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Trump’s troops


Trump is claiming there’s a “silent majority” that will come to his rescue and get him re-elected in November. This mystery voting block, he asserts, is ashamed to admit publicly that they intend to vote for him. And given the extraordinarily horrendous job he’s done presiding over the presidency, if I were a Trump supporter I’d be ashamed to admit it, too. But could he be right? Are there enough secret pro-Trumpers out there to give him a second term?

Whenever I ponder that question, I have to remind myself of things I agree with Trump about. Take this recent business of him sending unidentified federal troops into Portland, where they round up protestors in unmarked cars and take them—where? Trump claims he’s doing it to protect federal property. That’s a ruse, of course. He’s doing it to appeal to the law-and-order part of his base. Democrats are pretty upset by this, and I am, too; people are calling Trump’s troops “the Gestapo,” and with good reason. But I have to admit, whenever there’s a riot in Oakland—and it happens here more than most other places—I get really pissed off at the protestors for trashing my city. And I complain to our mayor that she’s not doing enough to protect businesses and infrastructure that routinely get vandalized.

That is, I suppose, the law-and-order guy inside me. There have been times when I’ve gotten so mad at the protestors that, in my fantasies, I wanted troops—any troops—to come in, bust some heads, arrest the more violent of the protestors, and keep my city intact. I want, yes, vengeance. And it never came, which made seeing the plywooded storefronts, some never to re-open, all the more frustrating.

Well, now, Trump is the manifestation of my fantasy. He is sending troops in to keep downtown Portland from going up in smoke; he is arresting people. Now that I’m getting what I wanted (albeit in a different city), how does it make me feel?

Well, for one thing, it forces me to re-examine my emotional response to the riots, and to re-appraise my fantasy solution to them. That’s the funny thing about reality: it’s easy enough to live in a fantasy world of revenge, but when the fantasy turns real, you have to go to a deeper level in your analysis. So I’m confronted with a basic dichotomy: I do not like the violent protesters. (I need to add that I love and support the peaceful protestors, who are by far the majority.) I do want the violent ones to be stopped, and to be made to pay a price for their mindless violence. That’s what Trump’s troops are doing in Portland.

But I do not want federal troops deployed anywhere in America without the express invitation of local leaders, such as mayors and governors. And Trump’s troops have not been invited by them to Portland; on the contrary, Portland’s mayor and Oregon’s governor both have insisted that Trump’s troops leave immediately. So I have to choose sides. And the side I’m choosing is for Trump’s troops to get the hell out of Portland.

Sometimes you have to choose between two undesirable things. That’s just how life is. Both alternatives suck, but one sucks worse than the other. In this case, we cannot have a situation where mystery troops, uninvited by local law enforcement or political leaders, are sent unannounced by the President of the United States into an American city, where they round people up without warrants. I know too much of history, and particularly of how the Nazis rose to power and corrupted that power once they seized it, for me to accept it in my country. It’s simply too dangerous: a slippery slope. And given Trump’s obvious attraction toward authoritarianism, and his twice-asserted vow that he will ignore the results of elections, we just can’t let this Portland situation be repeated anywhere in the U.S.

I still want the violent protestors stopped. They accomplish precisely nothing, except to destroy the communities they claim to want to help. I think the majority of them are stupid, ignorant, psychologically damaged individuals who need therapy and in some cases jail time. Anyone caught deliberately destroying property during an otherwise peaceful demonstration should be hit with the hardest hammer of the law.

But by local jurisdictions, not federal troops! I wish these mayors would react more stringently to the violent protestors. But unless I can walk a mile in their shoes and understand what they’re up against and dealing with, I realize my complaining is just so much blah blah. What I’m saying is, I’d rather live with a shuttered Target store than with a rogue, criminal president sending “his” troops into my streets to round people up and haul them away in black cars. We’ve seen that kind of thing before, and it never, ever ends well.

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