Trump is the inevitable outcome of 30 years of the politics of personal destruction. It all begins with Tom Delay, Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich. Win at all costs and not only win, make sure you pulverize your victim. Trump has elevated the war on individuals to a war on our political institutions themselves. And he is getting as assist from social media and Fox News – vehicles Atwater, Delay and Gingrich did not have available
Trump is undermining confidence in the nation’s investigative and police agency, the FBI, calling it corrupt. He calls the only backstop to political tyranny, a free press, “fake.” Indeed, he has described the most basic element in our democracy—our elections—as “rigged.” He belittles and trashes every opponent (“Little Marco, “Crooked Hillary”) and person who does not bow down to him or criticizes him (Rosie O’Donnell, Meryl Streep, Arnold Schwarzenegger). Press releases from the WHITE HOUSE call Democrats “losers.” His treatment of past presidents like Obama and Bush (like them or not) is appalling. Any sense of decorum, civility, respect, politeness and fairness has been shoved aside. For Trump it is a zero sum game – where winning is the only thing that matters – and he NEVER loses. It is The Apprentice only with real lives. The only thing that is fair is what Trump says – everything else is a lie. This does not go unnoticed by a lot of angry and unstable Americans (with 280 million guns stashed away) such as the man who threatens people at CNN, or the “fine” folks in Charlottesville. Something will give. Hitler had his Reichstag or Ernst vom Rath. Trump will find his excuse. He is looking for one.
Trump is nothing but a cult of personality – there is no there there. It is all bombastic hot air with inevitable arm shrugs wrapped around simplistic language from someone who truly embodies self-promotion over knowledge. Trump may be an accident of American history. (contrary to his yammering, he actually lost the popular vote.) But the real question is whether he is a one-off event in political history or an inflection point wherein the shape, demeanor and direction of our government radically shifts. It remains to be seen how Americans interact with or reject the current state of governance – will it become so toxic that it actually brings down the nation itself or can the ship be righted.
Behind Trump stands a LARGE cadre of amoral, crass and cynical Republican leaders who are willing to have his back or put up with his shenanigans in exchange for allowing their hands-off, racist and soak-the-poor agenda to be enacted. They are accepting of someone who will be proven to be a criminal in due course. The sad part is virtually all of those blundering Representatives and a big chunk of the American populace already know he is a lawless thug – he is a man without a moral center. He is Don Corleone only not nearly has smart or entertaining. Evangelicals, who are backing him hook, line and sinker – have proven beyond any doubt they are nothing more than racist hypocrites – as Trump’s affairs, harassment of women, his overt racism and behaviour (which would be considered immoral by any other person) gets a pass with people like Jerry Falwell Jr, Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins. The behavior gets a pass not because he “born-again” but because he is not a black man or a Democrat or an immigrant. Has Trump even gone to church since inauguration?
We truly are beset with a sociopathic, puerile, ignorant and petty man with a genius (a loose term) for manipulation of the mass media. Trump is a modern-day Goebbels in his skill and has been doing this kind of thing for decades – and now with 280 characters and a cable news channel to spread the word. It is so easy for him to hide behind a Twitter account – and let the media decipher every tweet. Like all narcissists, he gets a major “high” out of the attention. For Trump, it is quite obvious we are living the lie big on steroids – tell one big and often enough and to Trump – it becomes the truth. And his ever-faithful minions are eating this up He perfected his use of the media in the 1980’s New York (“John Miller”) – and took it to a new level with The Apprentice. With Twitter, we now have the American version of Eva Peron doling out soma to the masses. Remarkably this is the only skill Trump has – a powerful skill, but the only. He gets credit for way too much stuff that is just a by-product of his out-and-out lies and/or his media manipulation. Management, critical thinking, long term analysis, and intellectual curiosity play no part in his psyche – Trump is the epitome of a true narcissist pining to be pleased at that very instant. Trump has already had a symbolic kristalnacht (Charlottesville or his dismissal of protestors during the primaries). It remains to be seen whether our fragile democracy can survive Trumpism – the outlook is unclear.
After Trump leaves, it will be profoundly important how we do our politics in the future. It is quite obvious the laws and the constitution need an upgrade. The Electoral college has to go – years of minority government acting as a majority has taken its toll. Presidential candidates need to be required to show taxes, undergo health exams, and divest their businesses. Elections need to be publicly funded. Electoral laws have to be fixed and made fair. Gerrymandering has to be stopped. NO life time appointments to the Supreme Court. Term limits. Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Sadly I do not have faith in a majority of Americans doing the right thing. 30-35% is way too many supporting this infant-king. Right now the only thing many Americans are looking at – are fatter 401ks and a PR “bonus” from their employers because of this “tax cut.” This is a byproduct of Trump – living for the moment rather than understanding the long term impact of this aberrant and dangerous behaviour. In addition, as long as the American people continue to elect people like Dana Rohrbacher, Steve King, Louis Gohmert, and Ted Cruz etc. who like Trump, have perfected spewing lies, hate and their own version of media manipulation for personal gain, we will have a government that works against the country’s best interests. We must also think about Trump’s (inevitable) impact on the financial system with this unsustainable tax cut, our relations with the world that he is gutting and his impact on the environment with policies that are literally destroying the planet – these are things that simply cannot be undone so easily. Even Bill Kristol (of all people) has asked – are these tax cuts worth all the destruction Trump is unleashing?
It will take more than Trump turning America into “All My Children” on cable news to right this ship.