How much longer will America allow Donald Trump—our accidental, disastrous president—to dupe a substantial number of Americans with lies and playing to the least discerning voters (watch any Trump rally), and to embarrass the rest of us with misinformation, conspiracy theories, ill-treatment of allies, disregard for freedom of the press, and misconstruction of the Constitution? Trump and Trump zealots have made America more mean-spirited, more indifferent to suffering, less committed to facts, more fearful of boogeymen, more untrustworthy internationally, and throughout it all, more subservient to our president’s childish ego.
America has but one chief “enemy of the people,” the autocratic hollow man whom many wise Republicans warned us of since before 2016. He captured the deteriorated Republican party and made it his. Opposing candidates who first saw him for what he was soon came later to lick his boots. Those in Congress even forsook their responsibilities as an independent branch of government in order to oblige him. Donald Trump calculatedly misleads, dupes, demeans, and ultimately diminishes this great country and its people. That is the only kind of leadership this increasingly despotic, paranoid man understands.
With the 2018 mid-term elections upon us, Trump has come up with what he believes will energize his base, an action taken by most candidates for office in all parties. With Trump, however, the campaign lies are especially transparent, fear-mongering, and blatant—for example, undocumented immigrants are shot through with dangerous felons; the “caravan” a thousand miles away presents grave danger to America; as many military troops are needed on our southern border as in Afghanistan; Democrats want to have open borders; Republicans will save ‘pre-existing conditions’ coverage; and on and on, untruths without end. That constant stream consists entirely of lies . . . with more unstated and undoubtedly more to come.
We voters foolishly made this unscrupulous, immature man the most powerful politician in the world, he whose lack of character deserves no respect from anyone with intelligence and integrity. Consequently, our most bullying politician was granted the world’s greatest bully pulpit. He has not used that pulpit for good, but for evil. I must point out that Trump’s lying is not a trivial matter; these are not “white lies” nor are they lies about his golf score. When a president lies, whole public sentiments can swing, non-violent situations can turn violent, public perception of minorities can shift, attitudes about military mobilization can change, positions on international trade can harden. An unfortunate feature of continual lying is the vexing effect that it is unwise to trust anything he says about any topic as I explained in my February 10, 2017 post, “Trump and the new American truth.”
Can presidential persuasion or mindsets, beliefs, and opinions cause someone to behave in, say, a violent way? No, no single act of a president inclined to violence is responsible for a specific act by someone else. But the probability of acts of violence increases, as does the probability that a single act of violence was stimulated by a president’s language and behavior. After all, we speak of a bully pulpit because we believe it has salutary effects. Similarly, there is likelihood that a president’s violent speech has violent affects, though not conclusive as to a single instance, just as an unusually muscular hurricane doesn’t prove global warming, but repeated powerful hurricanes increases the inference that they’re due to global warming.
In disasters and other heart-wrenching episodes in our public life, our president is bewilderingly tone deaf and often just disgraceful. When discussion of the international role of the United States as a moral leader arises, our president is not to be found. He is more likely busy with zero-sum trade matters, seeming not even to understand what is at stake. When freedom of the press is broached, he acts as if the press exists to augment the slavishly silly, cheering rally crowds rather than to ensure public transparency. The press, specific agencies, or persons are worthy only as long as they fit his egocentric hunger for glorification or acclaim. The result is that his opinion of someone or something cannot be assumed to be dispassionate, rendering it impossible to have confidence in his judgment about cabinet members, court appointments, White House staff, or anyone else. Trump has morally cheapened America.
His damaging attacks on persons, on integrity of government, and on reality itself have been facilitated by ceaseless misrepresentations to the American people by him and his enthusiasts. It is imperative to understand that these lies are not mistakes. They are not even just campaign tactics. They are strategies of governing—strategies custom-made for autocracy, but deadly for democracy. There is no escaping that Donald John Trump is the principal enemy of the American people.
Thave now been 185 posts (essays) in this blog since April 2013, the following ones particularly concerned with Donald Trump: “America’s celebration of ignorance,” Sept. 26, 2016. “October relief…sort of, Trump’s still here,” Oct. 28, 2016. “You and I deserve Despot Donnie,” Mar. 20, 2017. “Trump and the new American truth,” Feb. 10, 2017. “Prerequisites for the presidency,” May 30, 2017. “Our republic…if we can keep it,” July 3, 2017. “Fish rot from the head,” Aug. 18, 2017. “Moral courage and the Trump threat,” Nov. 30, 2017. “Aiding and abetting injury to America,” Jan. 6, 2018. “A disgraceful leader implicates all,” June 19, 2018. “Trusting our leaker-in-chief in Russia,” June 22, 2018. “Mr. de Tocqueville, we got the government we deserve,” July 18, 2018. “Trump is NOT America’s problem,” Sep 10, 2018. “Enemies of the people,” Nov. 1, 2018.