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At each of these great gates of history, eighty to a hundred years apart, a similar generational drama unfolded. Four archetypes, aligned in the same order – elder Prophet, midlife Nomad, young adult Hero, child Artist – together produced the most enduring legends in our history. Each time the Grey Champion appeared marked the arrival of a moment of “darkness, and adversity, and peril,” the climax of the Fourth Turning of the saeculum. – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe
In September 2015 I wrote a five part article called Fourth Turning: Crisis of Trust. In Part 2 of that article I pondered who might emerge as the Grey Champion, leading the country during the second half of this Fourth Turning Crisis. I had the above pictures of Franklin, Lincoln, and FDR, along with a flaming question mark. The question has been answered. Donald J. Trump is the Grey Champion.
Until three months ago the 2016 presidential election was in control of the establishment. The Party was putting forth their chosen crony capitalist figureheads – Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. They are hand-picked known controllable entities who will not upset the existing corrupt system. They are equally acceptable to Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve, the military industrial complex, the sickcare industry, mega-corporate America, the moneyed interests, and the never changing government apparatchiks. The one party system is designed to give the appearance of choice, while in reality there is no difference between the policies of the two heads of one party and their candidate products. But now Donald Trump has stormed onto the scene from the reality TV world to tell the establishment – You’re Fired!!!
The linear thinking supporters of the status quo are flabbergasted and outraged by Trump’s popularity. The ruling classes never anticipate the mood shift of the peasants as they look down on the masses from their gated estates and penthouse suites. The country is looking for someone who can tear down the entire fetid, corrupt, rotting structure. The onset of phase two of this Crisis in 2016 will produce a populace more desperate, less trusting of the establishment and likely to turn towards someone like Trump, in despair. –Fourth Turning – Crisis of Trust (Part Two)
Strauss and Howe wrote their prophetic tome two decades ago. Their prognostications have played out exactly as they prophesied. They did not know which events or which people would catalyze this Fourth Turning. But they knew the mood change in the country would be driven by the predictable generational alignment which occurs every eighty years. Our regeneracy is now solidly under way.
“Soon after the catalyst, a national election will produce a sweeping political realignment, as one faction or coalition capitalizes on a new public demand for decisive action. Republicans, Democrats, or perhaps a new party will decisively win the long partisan tug of war. This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention. The regeneracy will be solidly under way.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
Linear thinking pundits, politicians, businessmen, bankers, bureaucrats, and citizens fail to grasp the cyclical nature of history. They think themselves progressives, falsely believing humanity and history move forward in a straight line. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is why they throw hissy fits when their predictions and beliefs are thrown into disarray by events and mood changes in the country.
The linear thinking establishment is losing their proverbial minds over Trump’s landslide electoral victory, they never saw coming. They’re flabbergasted, angry, and living in denial as history tracks a path it travels every eighty years or so. As the Greatest Generation departs this earth, there are few left who lived through the last Fourth Turning. That’s why the living generations are always surprised when another predictable crisis arrives. We never seem to learn the lessons of history.
Perpetual progress is a myth. Average American households haven’t seen economic progress in decades. Education continues to deteriorate, as the young become progressively dumber. Well-paying goods producing jobs have been shipped overseas, replaced by low paying, no benefits service jobs. Government is corrupt, inept, and discredited. Our culture is degraded, decadent, depraved, and despoiled.
Progress has devolved into regression. We’ve entered our saecular Winter and there is no turning back. It arrived with ferocious blizzard like conditions in 2008, and had been in a debt induced lull until this election. A bitter fierce wind has begun to whip across the plains and black swirling clouds portend a tempestuous future. As the gathering storm looms, the Grey Champion appears on the mountaintop.
“Americans have always been blind to the next turning until after it fully arrives.
Most of today’s adult Americans grew up in a society whose citizens dreamed of perpetually improving outcomes: better jobs, fatter wallets, stronger government, finer culture, nicer families, smarter kids, all the usual fruits of progress. Today, deep into the Third Turning, these goals feel like they are slipping away. Many of us wish we could rewind time, but we know we can’t – and we fear for our children and grandchildren.
Many Americans wish that, somehow, they could bring back a saecular spring now. But seasons don’t work that way. As in nature, a saecular autumn can be warm or cool, long or short, but the leaves will surely fall. The saecular winter can hurry or wait, but history warns that it will surely be upon us.
We may not wish the Grey Champion to come again – but come he must, and come he will.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe
To those who have never read the book or understand generational theory, they are appalled I would declare Donald Trump as the Grey Champion. They interpret the word “champion” as having a positive connotation. It has nothing to do with whether the Grey Champion is a good person, moral person, or likeable person. It doesn’t even have to be one person. Ben Franklin and Samuel Adams, both from the Prophet generation, are considered the Grey Champions of the American Revolution Fourth Turning. One was a diplomat who used his guile and cunning to propel the revolution forward. The other was a firebrand, in the mold of our current Donald Trump.
In most cases the Grey Champions are not revered or glorified until decades after the Crisis is resolved. Lincoln was and still is despised by just about everyone living south of the Mason Dixon line. Outraged businessmen attempted to convince Smedley Butler to lead a coup against FDR. Large swaths of Americans believe he is responsible for creating our welfare state and the unfunded liabilities which are playing a large part in this current Fourth Turning. The unintended consequences of decisions made in previous Fourth Turnings often become the catalysts for the next crisis.
The Grey Champion or Champions are Prophet Generation leaders who command respect due to their age, attitude and warlike demeanor. They were born shortly after the previous Great War Crisis and became the narcissistic young crusaders during the Awakening, driven achievers during the midlife Unraveling, and principled moralists summoning great deeds during the next Crisis.
They tend to inspire through their words and rhetoric, rather than through grand deeds. They are human beings, and as with all humans, they exhibit both positive and negative traits. Prominent positive traits include being principled, resolute and creative. Detrimental traits include being narcissistic, presumptuous, and ruthless. The Grey Champion arrives when the situation looks grim and the people need a jolt of courage to meet the frightful challenges ahead.
One afternoon in April 1689, as the American colonies boiled with rumors that King James II was about to strip them of their liberties, the King’s hand-picked governor of New England, Sir Edmund Andros, marched his troops menacingly through Boston. His purpose was to crush any thought of colonial self-rule. To everyone present, the future looked grim.
Just at that moment, seemingly from nowhere, there appeared on the streets “the figure of an ancient man” with “the eye, the face, the attitude of command.” His manner “combining the leader and the saint,” the old man planted himself directly in the path of the approaching British soldiers and demanded that they stop. “The solemn, yet warlike peal of that voice, fit either to rule a host in the battlefield or be raised to God in prayer, were irresistible. At the old man’s word and outstretched arm, the roll of the drum was hushed at once, and the advancing line stood still.” Inspired by this single act of defiance, the people of Boston roused their courage and acted. Within the day, Andros was deposed and jailed, the liberty of Boston saved, and the corner turned on the colonial Glorious Revolution.
“Who was this Gray Champion?” Nathaniel Hawthorne asked near the end of this story in his Twice-Told Tales. No one knew, except that he had once been among the fire-hearted young Puritans who had first settled New England more than a half century earlier. Later that evening, just before the old priest-warrior disappeared, the townspeople saw him embracing the 85-year-old Simon Bradstreet, a kindred spirit and one of the few original Puritans still alive. Would the Gray Champion ever return? “I have heard,” added Hawthorne, “that whenever the descendants of the Puritans are to show the spirit of their sires, the old man appears again.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe
The old man has appeared again. Just as he appeared eighty years after the glorious revolution behind the breastworks on Bunker Hill, providing spiritual inspiration to the farmer militia. The greying peer of Samuel Adams and Ben Franklin was just playing his role in the generational alignment which occurs every eighty years like clockwork. As the hour of darkness, adversity and peril arrives, the virtuous, fiery and unrepentant Gray Champion(s) appear through the fog of history like an apparition.
As the clock counted down to 1860, seventy-nine years after the climax of the previous Crisis, ideologues, warriors and righteous politician Grey Champions like John Brown, William Tecumseh Sherman, Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln stepped into the breach, as the terrible swift sword felled over 700,000 citizens.
Seven decades later as financial markets collapsed, the world sank into a global depression, with world war just over the horizon, a moralistic no-nonsense prophet generation leader arose to lead his nation towards their rendezvous with destiny. As ancestral generations entered the constellation that reoccurs every eighty years, elder warriors FDR, Douglas MacArthur, and Winston Churchill appeared to revive the spirits of their countrymen and fight the scourge of fascism.
No one can make the argument these three Crisis leaders were likeable. In fact, their personalities were grating and they were detested by friends and foes alike. What they did was ignore protocol, feelings, and minutia, to focus on the only thing that mattered – prevailing at all costs.
The previous two Grey Champion leaders – Lincoln and Roosevelt – are still reviled by many Americans, as they were by millions during their time. Unconstitutional policies and executive actions during the gloomy ambiguous days of the Civil War, Great Depression, and World War II left a long lasting impression on the country and play a major role in our current crisis. Both centralized power with the Federal government, drastically weakening the power of the states. Both set the country on a path towards increased taxation, spending and waging war.
Lincoln and FDR were elected Grey Champions, but Lincoln only received 39.9% of the popular vote in a four way race, while FDR won in a landslide with 57% of the vote over Hoover. It was clear Lincoln didn’t have a mandate, as Southern states began seceding after his election. Lincoln’s support in the North was halfhearted at best.
Lincoln captured only 55% of the vote in the 1864 election, with only northern states voting. His cabinet of rivals despised him. They plotted against him, actively opposed his policies, and gloried in his failures. After four grim years of slaughter and failure, he was assassinated just as his armies’ attained victory. To this day he is still despised by liberty minded states’ rights proponents.
Even though FDR won landslide popular vote victories in 1932 and 1936, his detractors and adversaries were numerous. FDR’s confiscation of gold, antagonism toward big business, and dictatorial style, convinced a number of wealthy businessmen to approach General Smedley Butler to lead a coup against FDR and install a fascist regime to run the country. His New Deal “make work” projects and socialist policies were widely scorned by free market capitalists, as they prolonged the Great Depression.
No one can assert Lincoln or FDR united all Americans in a common cause. Grey Champions are not universally adored or defended. They aggravated societal pressures that had been ignored or deferred by their predecessors. Compromise was not an alternative for these men. They were going to lead in a confrontational style suited to the times, using unyielding principles to vanquish their enemies. Grey Champions have a particular set of personality traits making them well suited to lead during a Crisis. They have the facility to overlook the complexities of life and focus on one simple imperative: society must prevail.
In Part One of this article I discussed the arrival of Grey Champions in previous Fourth Turnings; their attributes, deficiencies, and leadership skills; and why Donald Trump is the Grey Champion of this Fourth Turning – whether you like it or not. Now I will try to make sense of what could happen next.
“Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people. The establishment has trillions of dollars at stake in this election. For those who control the levers of power in Washington and for the global special interests, they partner with these people that don’t have your good in mind. The political establishment that is trying to stop us is the same group responsible for our disastrous trade deals, massive illegal immigration and economic and foreign policies that have bled our country dry.
It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities. The only thing that can stop this corrupt machine is you. The only force strong enough to save our country is us. The only people brave enough to vote out this corrupt establishment is you, the American people.” – Donald Trump
Seventy year old Donald Trump has assumed the Grey Champion flagstaff. In an increasingly chaotic world, normal working class Americans in flyover country were seeking a leader who could bring order, defeat the corrupt establishment, make tough decisions, and capture the zeitgeist of this moment in history. The ruling elite oligarchs and their fawning minions, occupying their strongholds in New York, California, Illinois, and D.C., are infuriated the peasants have dared to resist. In their secretive secure spaces, the elites are plotting with one purpose in mind – this uprising must be quelled.
They are now fanning the flames of discontent, funding professional protestors, and convincing the useful idiot college student millennials, Trump is dangerous to their future. It seems these mathematically challenged snowflakes have already forgotten about the $10 trillion of national debt and $1 trillion of student loan debt loaded on their backs by the Obama administration in the last 8 years. This is not to mention the $200 trillion of unfunded welfare liabilities awaiting them as they graduate with degrees in LGBT Studies and great jobs at TGI Fridays in their future.
As the legacy corporate mainstream media outlets hyperventilate over Trump going to dinner without informing them, while scorning and ridiculing his cabinet selections (even when he hasn’t made them yet), this Fourth Turning chaotically churns towards its inevitable bloody climax. The current violence in the streets may be Soros funded domestic terrorism, but it still creates more anger, bitterness, and further unwillingness to compromise or meet in the middle.
This country is manifestly divided between red and blue, with the red geographically occupying 85% of the country and blue centered in the liberal urban bastions of corruption. There are multiple civil wars brewing below the surface, between the establishment and the people; left versus right; rural versus urban; Wall Street and Main Street; and the haves versus the have nots. It hasn’t turned particularly bloody – YET.
It appears Trump’s cabinet will be filled with establishment insiders. Many of his supporters will be disappointed. The daily minutia flogged by the 24 hour cable news propaganda machines is meaningless in the broad expanse of a twenty year Fourth Turning Crisis. Every president ends up with Washington insiders in their cabinet. At the end of the day, it’s the president who sets the policy, decides what to prioritize, and sets the agenda for the nation. In the case of a Grey Champion assuming command in the midst of a Fourth Turning, events and his response to such events will dictate the course of the country and most likely the world for the next four or eight years.
The market reaction to Trump’s ascendancy has a stench about it. On election night futures dropped 800 points, but markets turned positive the next morning and haven’t looked back since. The stock market hovers at all-time highs. It’s almost as if the big swinging dicks on Wall Street decided to send a message – they are still in charge. It doesn’t matter who’s in the oval office, Wall Street calls the shots. If you cooperate and do as you’re told, the markets will ascend. If you attempt to implement any policy they don’t like, a crash will be manufactured (ex. TARP rejection by Congress). The currency and bond markets are in turmoil across the globe. Something is clearly getting ready to blow.
You can ignore the day to day gyrations, as the three core elements of this Crisis – debt, civic decay, global disorder – will produce a chain reaction implosion during Trump’s reign of power. The national debt is on automatic pilot to breach $1 trillion per year for as far as the eye can see. A $1 trillion infrastructure plan, rebuilding the military, building walls, massive tax cuts, trade wars and no spending cuts are a recipe for fiscal disaster. Trump’s advisors seem to be following Dick Cheney’s advice that deficits don’t matter. Steve Bannon’s documentary – Generation Zero – was based on the Fourth Turning, so you would think he would understand what’s coming next.
Interest on the national debt was $433 billion in FY16. That colossal amount was with a near record low weighted interest rate of 2.2%. In case you haven’t noticed the 10 Year Treasury rate has skyrocketed from 1.32% in July to 2.36% today. A 1% increase in rates across the yield curve will result in a 50% increase in interest on the national debt to $650 billion. Soc Gen’s Albert Edwards believes the current bond route could drive the 10 Year Treasury rate to 3.25%. That would blow a hole in our annual deficits. Isn’t leverage great?
The housing market was already rolling over due to high prices and stagnant household incomes. With mortgage rates jumping by 1% and possibly more, housing bubble 2.0 meets pin 2.0. Auto loan defaults were already surging, as every Tom, Shaniqua, and Julio in America got a new vehicle with a low payment lease or 7 year 0% loan. Over 25% of all student loans are not being repaid. The stock market bubble has been sustained by corporate CEOs borrowing to buy back their stock at all-time highs. Their corporate earnings have been falling for several quarters in a row and now the interest rates on their record levels of debt are going higher.
In addition, the USD is now at a 13 year high, up 10% since May and 30% since mid-2014. This will further weaken the profits of our global conglomerates. Making America great again by bringing back manufacturing jobs will be DOA if the USD keeps rising. It just so happens earnings are falling with interest rates and currency rising, when stock market valuations are at record highs. The euphoria of the Trump victory will be short lived as the country officially enters recession and the stock market drops by 30% or more within the next year.
The civic decay already proliferating during and after the election will be exacerbated as bad debt wipes out financial institutions, corporations, and willfully ignorant consumer borrowers. The lesson of 2008 has already been forgotten. Rather than rolling out his grand vision, Trump will be dealing with a financial crisis which will make 2008 look like a walk in Central Park. Will he follow the same failed policies used after 2008 – NIRP, QE, and saving Wall Street at the expense of Main Street?
Or will he level with the American people, allow Wall Street banks to go bankrupt, let the free market purge the system of trillions in bad debt, tackle the unfunded entitlement liabilities, and have Americans endure a Depression in order to reset our economic system? It will take a Grey Champion with a high level of moral fortitude and courage to demand such sacrifice from the citizens of this country.
With the left already trying to provoke a race war, once the Depression takes grip and the social safety net of entitlements begins to fray, the civic decay in the urban ghettos will reach a tipping point. Cities will burn, looters will run roughshod as police refuse to enter lawless neighborhoods, and commerce will grind to a halt.
If social justice warriors, black lives matter terrorists, or any other group of useful idiots decide to take their protests and violence into the red zones, outright civil war could break out. The Grey Champion is likely to clamp down on this civil disorder with the use of troops. Civil liberties will be trampled as the Federal Government attempts to maintain control. Fourth Amendment fans will not be pleased.
With rigged markets at record highs and the establishment still holding this Ponzi scheme of a country together, so they can extract a few trillion more before the collapse, the illusion of normalcy has lulled tens of millions into a false sense of security. Global disorder expands exponentially by the day.
The Middle East is a powder-keg; Russia and the U.S. are one mistaken shoot down from war; Europe is being overrun by Muslim hordes even as their insolvent socialist paradise goes bankrupt; NATO provokes Russia on a daily basis; Japan’s decades long depression worsens; China’s debt bubble approaches the breaking point; and currency wars are waged across the globe. Delusional Americans willfully ignore the facts because acknowledging them would require painful choices and accepting the consequences of decades of bad decisions.
As Trump focuses on filling his cabinet posts and preparing for his inauguration eight weeks from now, the forces of evil are gathering strength and preparing for battle. We are in the midst of the lull before the storm. Nothing has changed since the election from a debt crisis perspective. It seems the mainstream media pundits are purposely asleep at the wheel as The Obama administration has dialed the government spending up to 11.
Obama has made it his mission to reach $20 trillion in debt before he departs. At the current rate of debt accumulation, he will reach his goal by mid-December. The Obama administration has increased the national debt by $324 billion in the first 48 days of the fiscal year. That’s a rate of $6.75 billion per day. The rate of accumulation last year was $3.3 billion per day. This is out of control, and not a peep from the propaganda media, or incoming administration.
The ongoing Soros funded protests in liberal urban enclaves across the country are setting the stage for a major confrontation in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2017. Obama continues to fan the flames of faux outrage from the left. Soros and his domestic terrorist co-conspirators are planning violent demonstrations in the midst of the inaugural celebration. Obama will order the police to stand down and allow the situation to get out of control.
Picture the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention. There is one major difference. There will be hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who will not stand idly by and be abused by millennial snowflakes, BLM thugs, and feminazis. This event is likely to trigger clashes across the country. The gloves will be off and the situation could spiral out of control.
Those hoping for the Trump presidency to somehow derail this Fourth Turning are delusional. Fourth Turnings never de-intensify. They build to a bloody crescendo, with the existing social order left in tatters and clear winners and losers. I think it is useful to describe this Fourth Turning in terms everyone should understand. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his Lord of the Rings trilogy in the midst of the last Fourth Turning. It’s not a coincidence the heroic figure of Gandalf the Grey saves the day during the Battle of Helm’s Deep. He was the Grey Champion.
In today’s parlance, Helm’s Deep is occupied by normal working class Americans (aka the deplorables). George Soros is the evil Sauron, creating an army of Orcs with his immense wealth to destroy the good people of Helm’s Deep and abolish their way of life. Through relentless propaganda, violent protests, and the creation of useful idiots through our government indoctrination camps (aka public schools & universities), Soros is attempting to conquer our society and turn it into a global socialist playground for himself and his oligarch cronies. They had us surrounded and were breaching the walls. Two weeks ago the battle seemed lost. Soros had his Orc General Clinton positioned for certain victory.
When the situation looked darkest, the Grey Champion materialized on the horizon with reinforcements indispensable in turning the tide. The feeling in flyover country when Trump ascended the podium to assume the mantle of the presidency was on par with the feelings of the Helm’s Deep citizen combatants when they realized Gandalf the Grey had arrived to save the day. As we know, the victory at Helm’s Deep did not win the war. Sauron regrouped and resumed his attack on humanity in short order. Soros is regrouping as we speak and girding his forces of evil for a final showdown. This war is still being waged. And the victor will not be crowned until the mid – 2020s.
The deplorables were in search of a prophet generation (Boomer) Grey Champion to lead them through this era of darkness, adversity and peril as this Fourth Turning careens towards its climax. The Grey Champion doesn’t have to be a good person, but they must lead and display tremendous confidence in their cause and path. Humbleness, thoughtfulness, graciousness and building consensus are not the traits of a Grey Champion.
Lincoln and FDR have many detractors, but during their Fourth Turnings, they most certainly led, casting aside impediments (often illegally), initiating conflict and enduring many dark days, with bleak prospects for a successful resolution. But they forged on despite the setbacks, failures, and tragedies. Both died on the doorstep of victory. Those of a libertarian bent, thinking Trump will restore Constitutional rights, will be disappointed, as he is likely to strengthen and expand government control of our economy, healthcare system, speech and communications.
As this Fourth Turning traverses obstacles towards its ultimate climax, the intensity will escalate to an earth shattering dimension. Bold decisions will need to be made, requiring a leader who displays incredible confidence, unflinching determination and inspirational leadership. Political correctness and cultural warfare gibberish will have no place in the coming trials. Trivialities will be disregarded; techno-narcissists will be forced to abandon their iGadgets and pick up a weapon; financial oligarchs will see their fortunes evaporate in the blink of an eye; revenge and retribution will be meted out in equal portions; and the possibility for worldwide annihilation will be ever present.
Winter has arrived, bitter winds are blowing and Spring is many years away. Grim times have befallen the planet. The prospect for a tragic outcome grows by the day. The storm clouds loom on the horizon. There will be no avoiding the coming tempest. Trump cannot defuse the banquet of consequences, decades in the making, headed in our direction. The best he can do is maneuver the country through this minefield of history without blowing the world up. There will certainly be financial chaos, widespread death, colossal destruction, and an all-out war to the finish. Let’s pray the Grey Champion can lead us through this valley of death to a new High. There are no guarantees and our choices will matter.
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning
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