From the time that Donald Trump’s horror show of a presidential campaign began with a poetically appropriate descent down his own personal escalator to nowhere, political opponents, political observers and his battalions of true believing sycophants never believed that he would actually become President of the United States. This disbelief made it possible for many to ignore, excuse or laugh at the Buffoon Who Would Be King. And it can be seriously argued that it was this disbelief that set forth the foundation for his improbable victory and historically disastrous presidency.
Future historians will be awestruck at the fact that virtually the same population of Americans who elected Barack Obama twice would then elect Donald J. Trump. And historians will be dumbstruck at the amount of damage one man could do to institutions that were established and refined (albeit imperfectly) over the course of more than two hundred years. And yet, in November of 2018, with the second anniversary of his inauguration approaching, Donald Trump may not have a Soviet-style military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, his thoughts, words, actions, enablers and true believers are responsible for the potential degradation and decline of the United States.
Lest such rhetoric seem a bit extreme, it will be important to consider facts that are irrefutable. While there has always been a natural and therefore healthy tension between the presidency and the press, there has simply never referred to the press and journalists as “enemies of the people”. This cartoonish, playground epithet might be dismissed as ignorant lunatic ranting except that the history of dictatorships over the past 100 years almost always featured the demonization of the press so that the only truth is the truth uttered by the fearless leader/savior.
Whether it involves insulting reporters (“stupid” is a curiously favorite word in Trump’s truly limited vocabulary), turning “fake news” into a serious discussion point or banning journalists from the White House press briefings, the 45th president goes lower every day in his attack on the press. And once the dissenting press becomes the acknowledged enemy, we are only a few goose steps from the dissent of any citizen becoming a message from “the enemy of the people”. And history tells us what happens next.
And even though Trump’s vocabulary is limited by his limited reading and even more limited attention span, his increased use of the term “nationalistic” is reminiscent of the same kind of danger we easily recognize when we see a child racing through a gas station with a flaming tiki torch in hand. Yet, while we recognize the tiki torch toting tot as a danger, we get tangled in rhetorical nuances when it is obvious that white nationalists hear the Trump dog whistle as loud and as clear as Klan klaxon horn.
This call to arms has left people dead in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and California in just the past two weeks and no matter how much Trump may deny it, there is blood on his hands. And as long as he continues spewing presidential hate speech disguised as ignorant ramblings of a megalomaniac, there will be more blood.
And as bad and as dangerous as Trump’s domestic destruction is –and it is bad and dangerous – his behavior on the international stage may prove to be even more terrible. Using a word like “nationalism” in regions of the world, where millions of people died as a consequence of such rhetoric, is more than stupid. Trump has not only inspired mini-Trump-wannabees in Italy, Poland, France, Egypt, and Turkey and in other countries where the road to fascistic perdition was only paved over in recent memory. The consequences of Trumpspeak are too horrific to contemplate, but a smoldering globe needs only a few more flamethrowers before conflagrations become common place.
And lest an apocalyptic vision seem too extreme, consider the irreversible damage to the environment that have been occasioned by the Trump administration. The removal of “job-killing” regulations have given rise to “people-killing” environmental danger zones across this country. The damage that can take place over the few years of a Trump presidency can result in near-permanent damage for decades, no matter who becomes president. But when the President of the United States ignores science and refutes facts with hoots and catcalls, there are too many Americans believe that he is actually making sense.
This country has never seen a president with such obviously malign intentions. His racism is there for all the world to see. His misogyny is part of his DNA. His ignorance fuels his disdain for intelligence and logic. And his cavalier attitude towards potential disasters – nuclear, climate, environmental, infrastructure, economic – should give pause even to the most ardent of his Republican enablers, because Republicans have children and grandchildren too and because Republicans cannot possibly wish to bequeath a dystopian future to those children and grandchildren.
It should be clear by now that the nightmare that is Trump is not a dream – he is a reality, as are his supporters. But everyone has the ability to determine what tomorrow can be and Trump does not have the power to control that future unless that power is granted to him by those who sit by idly, hoping that he will change or hoping that he really cannot be as bad as he seems to be.
Last words – Trump really is that bad.