Monday, May 15, 2017

Oliver Cromwell (A Historical Model for Understanding Donald Trump?)

Oliver Cromwell was a religious fanatic and manic depressive farmer who recovered from his crippling depression and developed a fundamental religious mania as a way of giving meaning to his life. He was a member of the minor gentry in his local area, but conflict followed him constantly, whereby he argued and fought with anyone who did not share his views. He eventually sought the support of God for his beliefs and actions through the Puritan Church. He rose through the ranks of the Parliamentary forces that were fighting the supporters of the King, Charles I. He eventually made himself Lord High Protector of England, Ireland and Wales and then instituted a theocratic system of governance where all festivals and holidays (even Christmas), music, theater, football, pubs and inns were banned. Instead 'Fast Days' each month were introduced where citizens were compelled to fast and pray.

Cromwell believed that women and girls should dress in a proper manner. Make-up was banned. Puritan leaders and soldiers would roam the streets of towns and scrub off any make-up found on unsuspecting women. Too colourful dresses were banned. A Puritan lady wore a long black dress that covered her almost from neck to toes. She wore a white apron and her hair was bunched up behind a white head-dress. Puritan men wore black clothes and short hair.
Cromwell banned Christmas as people would have known it then. By the C17th, Christmas had become a holiday of celebration and enjoyment – especially after the problems caused by the civil war. Cromwell wanted it returned to a religious celebration where people thought about the birth of Jesus rather than ate and drank too much. In London, soldiers were ordered to go round the streets and take, by force if necessary, food being cooked for a Christmas celebration. The smell of a goose being cooked could bring trouble. Traditional Christmas decorations like holly were banned.
Despite all these rules, Cromwell himself was not strict. He enjoyed music, hunting and playing bowls. He even allowed full-scale entertainment at his daughter’s wedding. Life Under Cromwell
Fast forward to 2017 and the resemblances to Donald J. Trump and the conduct of his administration, at least in the popular media from both sides, are startling. This BBC documentary from 2001 looks at the life of Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) and in my opinion Old Ironsides would not feel out of place in the present White House, even with his fevered hatred of Catholics and teetotaler lifestyle. The creation of their own power base (Cromwell: New Model Army and the negotiations with its members following the second civil war and the uneasy peace, and the vast array of Right Wing organizations that pledged loyalty to Trump during the campaign of 2016) is another common feature, as well as elevating members of their own families to positions of power. Even the idea that theirs is a mission ordained my God is present in the political lives of both figures as well as an almost schoolboy behavior in times of pressure and stress (Cromwell started a giggling ink fight on the night he was writing the death warrant for Charles I's execution).

In fact it has even been asserted that Trump is a descendant of Cromwell on his mother's side, "Trump, a 12th great-grandchild of Cromwell’s, is connected to his line through his Scottish mother, Mary Anne MacLeod (Irish Central News).

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