The problem with modern America is the assumption that it has only recently gone mad. The truth is it’s been mad since well before Donald Trump turned Washington, D.C. into a deleted scene from a David Lynch-by-way-of-John Waters fever-dream reboot of the 1932 sideshow classic Freaks. In fact, mad is the default operational setting.

Politics and governmental action have always been driven by overly exaggerated, if not downright imaginary, bugaboos. From the Red Scare to Yellow Cake, the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine to the Gulf of Tonkin, the War on Drugs to the War on Christmas, myth, rumor, and conspiracy drive a misinformed, easily misled public and feed the faux-outrage of pearl-clutching, power-hungry politicians.

The pitchfork fears of the former drive the actions of the latter, and the intent to capitalize on these fears prompts the latter to further feed the fears of the former, creating a cycle of confusion and combustion.

If there was only some way to harness this self-perpetuating cycle, we could give up fossil fuels right now. But alas, the only thing that fear burns is those who fan the flames and those who run from them.

Case in point: Right now we are witnessing the self-immolation of Trey Gowdy, a man who did more to drive a partisan wedge between the right and the left than arguably any other politician currently in office.

But you have to give Gowdy some credit, a whole lot of it actually. He’s leaving on his own accord, unlike most shock jocks. It’s simply not a sustainable career. The only way to survive and continue to outrage, is to be totally independent like Glenn Beck or Alex Jones.

Or you can just get elected president.

Now, no one has to tell you that our dear leader — the Mini-Midas of Mar-a-lago — is prone to publishing tweets that are far more incindiary than the “nappy-headed hos” comment that got Don Imus fired from MSNBC years ago.

You know this.

We all know this.

Trump most certainly knows this. Or else he wouldn’t seem to toss out molotov tweets with such fat-fingered gusto.

Unlike most, I take delight in Trump’s tweets — well, a good many of them anyway. They’re blustery taunts that bring to mind the best rap feuds of days gone by — Snoop and Eazy-E, UTFO and the Real Roxanne, Paula Abdul and MC Skat Cat.

The point is, I have a tremendous appreciation for trash talk.

But sometimes, Trump’s tweets truly scare me. In fact, sometimes it’s so bad I imagine myself back in my childhood home at 2 in the morning looking out my bedroom window because I thought I heard the air raid sirens go off in the distance, a sound that only meant one thing: The Soviets had fired their missiles and we’d fired ours back and soon everyone in America would be little more than carbon shadows on the walls of our homes. Mutually assured destruction.

That’s how I felt last week when Trump tweeted out the following threats: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’”

And then he followed it up by saying, “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War.”

I don’t know what bothers me most, that Trump is taunting Russia with smart missiles, that he believes things are more dire today than they were during the increasingly tense 45-year stretch of the Cold War, or that it’s all just reckless hyperbole from a boardroom carnival barker who belches out stilted megaphone micro-missives for the sole purpose of perturbing perpetually on-edge marks.

And right now, we should all be on edge.

Especially now that the nature of Trump’s conversations with James Comey have been revealed, or at least the former FBI director’s version of events. And in these statements, Comey details the president’s persistent preoccupation with the purported pee tape detailing The Donald’s dalliance with a coquette of Russian call girls who soiled themselves for his amusement.

While there may not be such a tape in existence, it’s clear from Comey’s recollections that not only does Melania believe the tapes may be real, but Trump’s attempts to proclaim his innocence appear to be of the you-doth-protest-too-much variety.

And if that’s the case, and the pee tape is released, I can’t imagine the hellstorm that’s going to be unleashed, one in which Trump finally lashes out at his Russian handlers. My biggest fear is that it’s one that will consume us all in a wave of fear and fire and death.

Imagine, the entire human race wiped out because one man visited a Moscow freak show and paid some chicks to take a leak.

Gooba-gobble, gooba-gobble. One of us. One of us.

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.