I’m not sure the last time the word “fulminate” came to my mind — perhaps decades ago. But recently on seeing and hearing Donald Trump, the verb spontaneously surfaced and morphed into a noun, and Trump became in my mind “The Fulminator,” a fitting moniker, especially in light of his penchant for labeling anyone who might hint at questioning or opposing him.

Why The Fulminator? “One who fulminates,” the definition of fulminator, is the essence of his being and persona. As the definition of fulminates suggests, he hurls denunciations, censures and invectives menacingly, stridently. They are like sudden loud noises or explosions of text and verbiage, whether from the podium or on Twitter, often expressed through innuendo that allows him to deflect critics. He and his quips come on quickly and intensely, as does a fulminating disease.

The Fulminator shares traits with a closely related word and substance, fulminic acid. Acids are, of course, corrosive, and this one is particularly dangerous because it is unstable and its salts are explosive and often used as detonators. This acid is volatile, and its vapor is toxic.

The Fulminator’s shadow is “The Terminator,” as depicted in films, comics and novels, and The Fulminator’s recent public suggestion that President Obama may sympathize with terrorists is a diversionary tactic to draw attention from what may be his true identity as a human engaged in a war against the barely surviving elements of civilized democracy.

Ironically, what The Fulminator has said about the president could just as well be said about him: Look, the Republican Party is led by a man who has something else in mind. You know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe the way The Fulminator acts, and they cannot believe the way he has trumped the Grand Old Party’s field of numerous candidates to become the party’s leader and voice. Surely there’s something else going on. It’s inconceivable. Surely there’s something else going on.

What might that something be? The Fulminator — like his Terminator shadow — speaks, reads, writes, even sweats, smells and bleeds. But in speaking, he mimics, echoes and amplifies to distortion national fears and prejudices, and in so doing pulls civil life toward the edge of his maelstrom of paranoia and delusion. Once in The Fulminator’s “rabbit hole,” civility and democracy barely stand a chance.

 

Van Anderson lives in Minneapolis.