Every once in a while, a post pops up on my Facebook page that goes something like this: “Name the one thing about Donald Trump that you hate the most.” Typically, my reply is “Just one?” Seriously, with everything this man has done, it’s really hard narrowing it down to just one.
But I think I finally have an answer. When all is said and done, it’s not his overt racism that I hate most. Nor is it his contempt for the rule of law, or the fact that he has the attention span of a gnat, or that he thinks he’s the smartest person in the room – despite all the available evidence to the contrary – or that he treats everyone like shit, or that he has no moral compass and that his favorite people appear to be dictators. Sadly, he’s not the first president to exhibit one or more of these character traits. Andrew Johnson was a racist, as was Woodrow Wilson. George W. Bush was hardly a Rhodes scholar, and Richard Nixon wrote the book on corruption; a book that Trump has added more than just a few chapters to.
No, the one thing I hate most about Trump is the way he is tearing this country apart. He has literally created an alternate reality in which his supporters fervently believe there is a deep state out to get him. The other day, I read a post from some author in Massachusetts who is calling for the arrests of everyone from James Comey to Hillary Clinton for conspiracy against Trump. If you thought that was crazy, you should’ve read the comments people left. Let’s just say if they ever decide to reshoot One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, I know where they can find some stand-ins.
To be honest, I’m frightened. I’ve never seen the country this divided; this caught up in a make believe world. The saddest part about this is that these poor fools don’t know they’re being played by a master manipulator. This is all part of an elaborate scheme designed by him to divert attention away from his real mission: which is to turn the United States into a banana republic. Years ago, I had this law professor in college who gave the class one simple rule: “Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you throw enough shit at the blackboard some of it will stick.” It was his way of warning us that he wasn’t going to fall for it.
Obviously, Trump has never heard of this rule. He’s thrown so much shit at the blackboard, he’s turned it into a toxic waste dump. And whoever succeeds him as president – whether that’s in 2021 or 2025 – will spend the bulk of their term in office cleaning it up. From his relentless assault on the media to his constant undermining of the Russia probe, Trump has so debased the national discourse that slightly more than a third of the country will believe anything he tells them.
Friendships have ended, families’ members have stopped talking to one another and marriages have been strained, some beyond repair. There’s a limit to what a free society can tolerate before it devolves into anarchy and Trump is pushing it past the breaking point. His rallies are little more than hate gatherings; recently a cameraman from the BBC was assaulted by a man wearing a MAGA hat.
There is a disturbing pattern at work here; one that appears to be working. Trump is so shameless in his deceit that virtually nothing he does shocks anyone any more. Indeed, people are more numb than they are surprised. And the media, once the vanguard of truth, have become little more than sidekicks for him. It’s as if Trump has taken his Celebrity Apprentice show on the road to Washington.
The sheer brilliance of the man is matched only by his depravity. No wonder he admires people like Putin; they speak his language. But there is one difference between the two men. Putin runs a country with no checks and balances, a kleptocracy posing as a republic. Trump is the president of an actual republic whose founders had the wisdom to put in place a strong constitution that has, so far, frustrated his more sinister impulses.
And that’s the one thing I’m most optimistic about. Despite his best efforts, the institutions of this country – most notably the courts – appear to be functioning the way they were intended to. He may be tearing apart the fabric of society and reducing what’s left of the Republican Party to a bunch of sniveling runts, but he isn’t winning, not by a long shot. Think about it: he hasn’t been able to fire Mueller, and with Democrats now in control of the House, his administration will be the subject of intense investigations through at least the 2020 election. He may act like a dictator, but, like his reality TV show days, that’s all it is, an act.
And as for the people who are under his spell, we can only hope that they will discover what the rest of us know all too well: that Donald Trump is nothing more than a snake oil salesman, peddling a cure for a disease he created.