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DISUNITED STATES Uncle Sam, like the snake that eats its own tail, is devouring himself...

and Donald Trump is holding volatile powder keg

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United Flames of America: US flag burns as protestors take to the streets in Kenosha

United Flames of America: US flag burns as protestors take to the streets in Kenosha

AP

Divisive: US President Donald Trump is desperate to cling onto power

Divisive: US President Donald Trump is desperate to cling onto power

Getty Images

Police attempt to push back protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Police attempt to push back protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha (AP Photo/David Goldman)

AP

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United Flames of America: US flag burns as protestors take to the streets in Kenosha

AMERICA, its Star Spangled Banner tattered and forlorn, increasingly resembles that doomed Beirut warehouse in the moments before its annihilating Big Bang.

Combustible, volatile, dangerously charged, a powder keg requiring only the tiniest accelerant to detonate and self-destruct.

Donald Trump's disunited States, a ticking time-bomb of racial division and hateful, inflammatory rhetoric, a Covid-ravaged dystopia, a confused, polarised, suspicious social badland, sits twitchily on the brink.

Fear and loathing abound.

November's election - regardless of the outcome - could be the kindling, the final blinding spark of anger and discord and division that sets the self-styled Land of the Free aflame.

All of 155 years after Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S Grant at Appomattox Court House, the terrifying reality is dawning that the world's most powerful nation is straying semi-blindly toward something close to civil war.

In a reprise of Mississippi and the 1960s Deep South, cities are burning.

Fifth Avenue, the world's most prestigious shopping street, spent much of summer boarded up against ransacking marauders. Manhattan's shimmering glass towers are empty, its famous watering holes and dining houses shuttered.

The landscape is bleak, one where the new abnormal includes the tear gassing of a largely peaceful protest to permit the Commander-in-Chief to pose outside a church with an upside down bible in his right hand.

Trump's diatribe of falsehoods, his alienating leadership, his incompetence in the face of a catastrophic pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, his desperation to cling to power, have driven one wedge after another into society.

Democrats present as America's great hope for redemption a 77-year-old who was twice previously a tailed off also-ran in the race for the Oval Office.

Conspiracy

Great voids have opened between Republican and Democrat; conservative and liberal; rich and poor; between increasingly entrenched blue-collar heartlands and coastal elites; scientists and conspiracy theorists; fake news and fact; bigot and moderate; law enforcement and citizen.

Social media and partisan broadcast giants (liberal, left-leaning media as indiscriminate in their bashing of Trump as Fox News are in their cheerleading) feed the estrangement - both sides retreat further and further into their favoured echo chamber.

With each passing day America is diminished a little more. The shimmer ebbs from Ronald Reagan's shining city on the hill. Uncle Sam, like the snake that eats its own tail, manically devours himself.

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Divisive: US President Donald Trump is desperate to cling onto power

Divisive: US President Donald Trump is desperate to cling onto power

Getty Images

Divisive: US President Donald Trump is desperate to cling onto power

Most acutely in the way of George Floyd dying in May gasping "I can't breathe" to the police officer kneeling on his neck, the disconnect is on racial lines.

Trump lauds white supremacists even as Black Lives Matter (an uneasy coalition of uncompromising radical and hopeful moderate) germinates and sprouts into a mass movement, a catch-all cry for those who yearn for change.

Police officers are accused of serial racism, the latest scandal occurring in Wisconsin as an agent of law and order deposits seven bullets into the back of an unarmed black man, even as the now paralysed victim's three young children look on mute and terrified.

And then, when the crippled Jacob Blake is taken to hospital, the police insist on handcuffing his terminally disabled body to his bedpost.

The optics and absence of basic humanity are grotesque.

In an enormously powerful gesture, basketball's biggest names - led by LeBron James, the most iconic figure in American sport - down tools and decline to play even as the NBA season arrives at its climactic moment. Baseball, soccer, even the genteel world of tennis follows.

For context, imagine Stephen Cluxton and Joe Canning and TJ Reid and David Clifford leading a mass no-show on the morning of All-Ireland finals.

James explained: "I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as black people in America. Black men, black women, black kids, we are terrified."

Ineptitude

As society crumbles and jobs vapourise, the incumbent's hopes of returning to the White House on a booming economy ticket perish.

America's Covid dead outnumber the combined capacity of Croke Park, the Aviva Stadium and Pairc Ui Chaoimh. The wealthiest nation on earth, a land of abundance, brought to its knees by staggering White House ineptitude.

Discourse has been cheapened to a point where Trump can legitimise the far-right QAnon. "I've heard these are people that love our country," Trump told a White House press briefing ten days ago.

America hurtles unmoored, like a plummeting elevator clacking off the floors, towards God knows what.

In 73 days, the USA goes to the voting booths and the people will decide.

Except they may not because Trump - in an insurance policy against likely defeat - has already cast doubt on the integrity of the ballot and declined to confirm he will accept the election outcome.

The words of Abraham Lincoln echo down the years: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

And so the touch-paper is lit and a wounded nation veers toward terrible conflagration.