Well, the Trump Presidency is two years old as of yesterday at noon. That means that, God willing, we’re past the halfway point. Of course the weekend had plenty of drama, with a bunch of white, Catholic kids from Kentucky having an altercation with a Native American elder in Washington, an incident that went viral on social media. Donald Trump did some ignorant tweeting too, and Mike Pence compared him to MLK. You can’t make this Presidency up.
At the halfway mark of the Trump Presidency, I’m pretty comfortable calling it a failure. He’s the worst President of my lifetime, and that includes Reagan and Dubbya. The man is ripping the country apart at the seems, unleashing division I’ve never seen before. It’s bad. It’s really bad.
I’ve come to two other basic conclusions at this point on Trump:
- He’s a stone cold lazy moron. I’m not telling you to underestimate him, he’s the greatest marketer in the world. I’m saying that’s all he is though- a basic conman who sells his grifter schemes to people who are desperately looking for something to latch onto. Donald Trump was never a good businessman, he bankrupt a casino for God’s sake. He is ignorant on economics, ignorant on foreign affairs, ignorant on basic civics and the workings of government, ignorant on societal change, and ignorant on the challenges facing working people. He’s notable ignorant moron because he’s stupid, but because he’s lazy, narcissistic, and detached from the people. He doesn’t want to learn about foreign policy, and things like why America defends the Kurds. He doesn’t want to learn about economics, and see how global trade is necessary for our consumers and businesses, let alone what actually should be reformed in the global market. The man is a basic “Trust Fund Baby” type, ignorant to the world in his old age, but completely sure he’s an expert in everything, because he’s rich and famous. He’s a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, and ignorant to all the social sciences, basically because he’s intellectually lazy and arrogant.
- He wishes he was an autocratic dictator and actually effective fascist, but instead he’s an ineffective buffoon. Can we be honest for a moment- Trump wishes he could run America like Putin, or Erdogan, or MBS, or any other foreign leader that has close to absolute power in their country. The real reason Trump defends Saudi Arabia over the Kashoogi murder is that he wishes he could pull that off. But he can’t, which is why I stop short of some of the hyperbole about fascism with Trump. First, and by a thread, our Democratic institutions have held up against his worst excesses so far. We were able to elect a Congress that put Nancy Pelosi in his way before he could get into a full scale roll back of the Bill of Rights. Second off, Trump is too stupid to be Putin. He drives staff and advisers away who challenge him, the exact kind of people effective leaders need to enact their agendas. He’s a narcissist. He’s too greedy and proud to navigate the complications of governing. It’s why not one mile of wall got built in his first two years, or why they couldn’t repeal the ACA, or why so many of his directives and policies got knocked down in courts. The man is a buffoon. This is not to say he’s not doing major damage. An idiot with power can do lasting damage to Democratic norms, the federal workforce, the judiciary, international relations, immigration law, and lots of other areas. What I’m saying is the reason we’re not actually seeing death camps, journalists being killed, and ethnic cleansing is everything I wrote under number one has made him an ineffective executive.
The byproduct of Trump’s two years in office was seen this weekend in the “Right to Life” Marches, the Women’s Marches, and even the Indigenous People’s March. Activism, and passions, are at an all-time in America. I could use this space to write about my general distaste for Linda Sarsour and some of the other organizers of these marches, but to do so is to totally miss the point- this is the point of a society that has a First Amendment in it’s constitution. That millions of women took to the streets to declare their political being is a good thing. In fact, even though I disagree with their policy point, the pro-life marchers taking to DC is a good thing. Our government of elites can be detached from the people, and it’s good when the people make sure they can see and hear us. If the only positive out of Trumpism is a more animated public, that’s not a small victory.
Of course, this has also brought us an unprecedented incivility in our discourse. Trump’s gutter language, his calls for opponents to be locked up, his flagrant disregard for the law and well being of others, has brought us to this point. It’s a point where high school kids attempt to belittle a Native American elder, where Nazis march in our streets, and yes, where Congress members call the President a “mother f*cker,” out of pure frustration with his government. Trump’s hate empowers more hate, and prompts an equally angry response. It creates a race to the bottom, as frustration builds among all of those newly politically active people on all sides. Trump’s language tells his supporters than it’s ok to hate, ok to look down on marginalized people, ok to treat people of different views as pond scum. And guess what? The MAGAts, in their red hats did. The Covington Catholic boys are just the latest, and frankly not nearly the scariest visualization of this. And what does this induce on the other side? For me, frustration. Hence, I’m referring to them as “MAGAts.” For millions of others though, it’s fear. They wonder if they still can belong to this society. They wonder if they can physically stay here. Now based on what I wrote above, I do think some of the fears about Trump are hyperbole. It’s easy for me to reason it all out though, I’m not the target. I’m a white, straight, Catholic male, from suburbia. For many other people, reason goes out the door when their rights, their freedom, and their lives are called into question in open rhetoric, from their President.
It is in this environment that extremism thrives. Confirmation bias starts taking hold when people are angry, hateful, or afraid. Extreme policy positions, without any actual plans or thought, become popular. Grifters, loons, and hatemongers rise up in our politics. Anti-semitism has creeped into the left, Neo-Nazis are being accepted on the right. Extreme, radical ideas are suddenly accepted as legitimate to debate. The door is wide open once it’s cracked open an inch.
It is important that our 2020 Presidential candidates see through this mirage, this moment, and see it for what it is. Our political discourse right now is not what most of America is. At most, somewhere between one and two percent of America was marching in the streets this weekend. The other 98% just aren’t there. That’s not to say they’re happy- most of them didn’t vote for Trump (he got less votes, with 46% of the vote), and they just summarily kicked Trump’s party out of control in the Congress. I’d go further and bet 99% of the people at the marches don’t want the country ripped apart by our political divisions we are suffering. Donald Trump is President because of the luckiest of breaks in the electoral college that gave him a win with 3 million less votes. It’s important that our candidates for President not lose site of an obvious truth- this is not who we want to be. We’re better than Donald Trump. We’re better than our politics. We just need a leader who can help us realize that again.