By Damon Linker
If I were still a believing Christian, I might be tempted to think that Donald Trump is Satan himself.
No, I don’t mean that literally, but I do mean it seriously.
The idea of Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, a fallen angel, or demonic force who rises up in defiance of God, tempts human beings toward sin, inspiring evil, sowing chaos and disorder, tearing down good things, desecrating the beautiful, telling lies for the sheer thrill of spreading confusion and muddling minds — the pious believe such a being actually exists, wandering the world, intervening in lives, possessing bodies, polluting souls.
But it’s also possible to make use of the character as a metaphor, an idea, treating it as the fanciful creation of culture as it tries to make sense of something real in human experience.
What is this something? It’s more precisely a someone — the kind of person who delights in wreaking havoc, who acts entirely from his own interests, and whose interests are incompatible with received norms, standards, restraints, and laws.
Someone who actively seeks to inspire anger and animus, who likes nothing more than provoking conflict all around him, both to create advantages for himself and because pulling everyone around him down to his own ignoble level soothes his nagging worry that someone, somewhere might be more widely admired. This is a person who lives for adulation without regard for whether the glory is earned. The louder the cheers, the better. That’s all that counts.
And so the only thing that’s a threat is the prospect of the cheers going silent — of someone else rightfully winning the contest for public approval.
Donald Trump is the demon in American democracy.