By the time you read this, America and the world will have changed.

Life is often a tension between what you dream of and what happens - and learning how to live is about reconciling those two strands as best you can. 

But holding the world hostage because it does not look exactly the way you want to is a dangerous and destructive decision. You can become a stone in a stream, meaning the river has to flow around you, slowly grinding you into sand as it does.

That's what happening to Donald Trump this week. He's now standing mid-stream and refusing to face a simple truth: he's yesterday's man. 

For the last four years, I've watched what's been happening to this country with an Irish immigrant's eye, and I think have been more alarmed about the developments because of my outsider's perspective.

What I have seen, over and over, is one community of conservative white voters retreat further and further into resentment and hostility as their power and force of numbers diminish. It reminds me of the isolationist path of Ulster Unionism during The Troubles. It's such a lonely path.

I can't count the number of times a conservative white man has come up to me in a store or other public setting to lament the growing loss of public order that he feels is flourishing in New York City now. He always speaks to me because I am white and because he assumes I share his outlook. You're white too, you get it, his look always says.

But where I see a melting pot with extraordinary potential, he just sees ugly chaos. He will often tell me of what the world looked like in his father's day (and, if he had his way, what it would like again).

He is unnerved by all these immigrants because he does not speak to them or know them and he doesn't want to speak to them or know them. He has never seen their value and doesn't intend to start now.

So many conservatives have never embraced the incredible racial diversity of America nor do they ever plan to, instead they have stood in cold judgment and rejected it all. A line has long ago been drawn.

Masked military police assemble at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC

Masked military police assemble at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC

It's a well known American stereotype by now, the resentful old white guy, isn't it? From Archie Bunker to Clint Eastwood, we know the type. Eastwood has even made a film where he sits on his front porch with a rifle across his knees, scowling at all the minorities moving into his neighborhood.

No one can scowl at immigrants with the undisguised contempt of Clint Eastwood. Conservative white voters adore him because they see themselves in him, because he understands their point of view.

But it must be exhausting to divide the world up into winners and losers like this. To see American life as a brutal game with a set of rules that enforce that simple, stark divide.

No one chooses where they are born or into what race, so the rules seem especially stupid if you ever actually think about the rules, rather than play the game.

It must be exhausting to police all these fault lines of race, identity, inheritance, and class. You might as well take a bucket and sponge to the ocean and try to mop it up. It's pointless.

For the last four years, Donald Trump has been Clint Eastwood sitting on the front porch with a rifle on his knees. He was swept into power after conservative voters experienced the shock of a black man moving into the White House. Trump was sent there to do what so many old white guys in supermarkets have asked him to, restore the natural order, undo what Obama did, put down chaos.

What the last four years have revealed though is that the old conservative order is finished. America won't willingly get in Trump's DeLorean time machine and be transported back to 1950. The culture wars are over, and progress won.

So the Republican Party can stack the Supreme Court with conservative justices who are itching to remove – rather than expand – rights, but they will be fiercely resisted because history only moves forward.

Once rights are granted, once the genie of freedom is out of the bottle, they become harder to recapture and remove.

In Ireland, the unionist community has stayed loyal to a British Empire that no longer exists. All those black bowler hats and imperialist orange sashes look increasingly out of date in the age of Brexit and the now disunited kingdom. Just as in America all those red hats and MAGA were just silly made-in-China throwbacks to a long-gone time. 

Because whoever wins this week, Trump is already yesterday's man, not tomorrow's, and if his presidency ends in January or in 2024, it's all the one.

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