A greedy bully seizes his moment to make a grab for power. Bootlicking kiss-ups swarm around him. Mobs of partisans are seduced by lies, propaganda, and virulent ideology. Plagues and violence breakout. People die and the nation falters. This is a common, recurring tragedy: tyrants rise to power, sycophants suck up, the moronic masses cheer it on, against their interests.
And things fall apart.
This is a tale of the contemporary political landscape of the USA, but it is also a story as old as the Ancient Greeks. Plato and Sophocles described this trio of political characters; they warned that tragedy unfolds in the absence of reason, and proposed wisdom and virtue as the cure. This account was well-known to the Founders of the United States, who imagined the U.S. Constitution as a solution to tyranny. The dream of Enlightenment required educated citizens and leaders informed by philosophy, theology, and history. The Trump era prompts us to think about perennial themes in politics, philosophy and morality. The bad news is that there have always been morons, sycophants, and tyrants. The good news is that once we know this, we can prepare a response. At times, each of us can be tyrannical, moronic, and sycophantic. That is why we need reason and virtue, as well as a political system that restrains our worst inclinations.
This book brings historical insight to bear on current affairs, the arc of the Trump phenomenon, and uses the contemporary moment to illuminate universal themes of human society.