subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Trump has a scary plan. Obama can thwart it



After Trump insulted 94-year old George H.W. Bush the other day, in a speech in Montana and then on Twitter, there was speculation that it wasn’t just some random rant, but a carefully calculated move to continue the process Trump started a while ago: disparaging the Republican Party and its icons as only he can do with taunts and smears, thus turning his followers against the GOP to which they long felt they belonged, in order to create a new political party based on loyalty to him: The Party of Trump.

He ran as a Republican, so why would he want to destroy his own party? Simple. For Trump, it’s not about party, it’s about him: his power and wealth. This is a man whose motives increasingly appear to be seizing control of the government and institutions of America, doing away with elections, and ruling as long as he remains alive.

Am I paranoid? Trump loves authoritarian dictators like Putin, Kim Jong Un, Xi of China and Erdogan of Turkey, who are setting themselves up to rule their countries for life. As I blogged last week, his children—Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric—already are talking about inheriting the power after he’s gone.

And to judge by the reaction of his followers, he is succeeding. I read the comments on Breitbart. I hear what Trump cult members on Fox “News” say. Believe me, they are ready to accept a suspension of the Constitution and allow Trump unlimited, unchecked power. Not only ready, but eager: they’re so angry that they long for a dictator who will rule with impunity and punish his and their enemies with gusto and vengeance.

The unreal thing is that this scenario is no longer unimaginable. Two years ago it was. One year ago it might have been. But we are now in a situation where America is in imminent danger of collapsing into a fascist dictatorship, and there are very few obstacles I can see that might prevent it from happening. Even a devastating Mueller indictment might not budge the needle.

Are there any Republican-Trump defenders out there who will say they’re okay with him being defeated in 2020 (assuming he’s still in office)? I don’t believe Trump himself will do down without a fight. If he loses the election, he’ll question its legitimacy—and his radically conservative Supreme Court could easily side with him. He’s egging his followers on, and he believes his followers are more aggressive and have more guns than do Democrats—which may well be true.

This trade war he started is an example of how far he’s willing to go to test his followers’ loyalty. It’s clear that the Chinese, Canadians, Mexicans and Europeans, in fighting back, are targeting Red states, through stiff tariffs on corn, soybeans, motorcycles, cars, pork and other products. It’s clear that tens of thousands of workers in those Republican states will lose their jobs. And yet, these soon-to-be laid-off workers say they don’t care how much they have to suffer because of Trump; they love him anyway. I can’t begin to fathom this mentality. It really looks like they’re in a trance, which is why Trumpism increasingly is referred to as a “cult,” as for instance here, and here and here. These citations all are negative; bizarrely, the Trump son who is most likely of all the Trump spawn to go to jail, Donald Jr., himself concedes that Trumpism is a cult.

I’ve argued for nearly two years now that if we want to understand Trump, Trumpism and Trumpites, we have to turn, not to history or politics or economics, but to the science of psychopathology. Why are some people attracted to cults? Why do they remain in them even when it becomes apparent that doing so is destructive to them and their loved ones? How can we intervene to rescue them?

This last question is perhaps the most vexing, because there doesn’t seem to be any way of getting through to Trump’s most ardent fans and convincing them that what they’re doing is wrong. They are beyond the pale: of reason, of compromise, of logic and fact, of morality. It’s a fruitless question to wonder which came first, their cluelessness or Trump’s baiting. Both conditions arose simultaneously, assuming shape over the years, until they morphed into each other. Trump, Trumpism and Trumpites are now a gigantic mass, a glob of protein fueled by resentment, refreshed by violence, filled with yahoo nationalism, and eager for a fight. And to judge by Trump’s behavior lately—that Montana speech was a real doozy—he’s tripling down on the stoking. In his head, he’s riding a big wave (North Korea, the economy, 90% Republican approval), and while some of us believe what he’s really holding onto is the tail of the tiger, we do not yet have any indication that the tiger is not predisposed to be friendly toward him.

Around the edges of this gathering storm lurks Barack Obama. Every once in a while, as if to confirm his “No Drama Obama” personality, he gives a private speech in which he quietly urges Americans to vote, as he did late last month at a fundraiser in Beverly Hills.

But Obama seems to have succumbed to the unwritten rules of the Former Presidents Club: Stay low-key, out of sight, and keep your criticisms, in any, rare and ambiguous. I wonder why. Nobody wrote that rule: former Presidents can say and do whatever they want. Joe Biden has been outspoken in denouncing Trump; so has Hillary Clinton; both are former presidential candidates. But Obama—the most popular Democrat of our time—remains largely invisible. I couldn’t agree more with the Hartford Courant when they editorialize that, “to the annoyance of many Democrats…Obama has largely floated above the political fray,” because he “doesn’t want to aggravate political polarization and wants to preserve his credibility by speaking out only selectively and on key occasions.”

I have a message for the former President: The country is already polarized. It’s getting more so, not less. The danger of the triumph of Trumpism—which is the death of our democracy–mounts by the day. The longer you remain quiet, the more your charisma fades into irrelevance. It’s time for some drama! What “key occasions” are you waiting for, anyway? You have your pick of dozens right now.

I would love to see Obama Arising, thundering across the cities and towns of America like an Old Testament prophet, sounding the alarm, bringing crowds to their feet—not at some fancy Beverly Hills fundraiser nobody can afford to go to, but in arenas, town halls, auditoriums, universities, shopping malls, wherever he can find a platform, eyes blazing, exhorting us to action, and action now. Every minute Obama wastes “not aggravating political polarization” is another minute for Trump to consolidate his forces. This is a race against time, people, and right now, The Resistance is facing formidable odds.



Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts