Trump’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville was dangerously predictable
President Trump’s failure to govern while he simultaneously proves he is mentally and morally unfit is newsworthy, but it’s not a surprise. His use of false equivalence to link the heinous actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville to those of counter-protesters was reprehensible, but hardly shocking. Trump has been fanning the flames of intolerance and revealing his boundless insecurity since he announced his presidential run.
Like Monday’s solar eclipse, which captured the attention of the nation and will soon be forgotten, Trump’s shameful response to Charlottesville will be reduced to a gaffe by this political allies. His presidential failures have proven too overwhelming to analyze and sort simply based on the rate at which he makes unforced errors. Trump is the rare political figure who is remarkably predictable and yet continues to alarm us.
Counting on the remaining Trump supporters to muster the courage necessary to own this mistake and join the arduous process of healing our nation is futile.
Like the man himself, Trump loyalists are incapable of recognizing the harm caused by his erratic leadership and bombastic style. Summoning the will to stand up to the president is unthinkable for most members of the Republican majority in Congress. Elected officials have adapted by hiding behind ambiguous tweets condemning racism, yet they continue to support the racist leader of the Republican party.
With loyal enablers propping up his fragile ego and a rotating door of Trump surrogates failing to rein in the President, the course to Charlottesville was predictable, charted through a presidency of pandering and populism.
Propagating myths to justify political ambition
Like ancient civilizations trying to make sense of an eclipse, Trump defenders turn to mythology to make sense of a country they felt slipping away from them during the Obama years. Prior to widespread knowledge about the scientific understanding of an eclipse, dozens of explanations existed. Most of the tales can be traced back to the cultural values held by people of specific regions throughout history. Stories about thieving dogs and distraught bears taking a bite out of the vanishing sun helped people make sense of eclipses. In the absence of scientific fact, people clung to mythology to grasp something otherwise incomprehensible.
Unfortunately the same can be said for millions of Trump voters holding desperately to convictions based on a distorted view of America. President Trump creates enemies with carefully constructed myths and joins his followers by blaming others for real and imaginary problems in the world. His most impassioned disciples chanted, “Lock her up!” about Hillary Clinton and a majority of his followers continue to overlook his lies because they buy the underlying premise of his dishonesty.
The deluge of Trump-created mythology includes allegations of rampant voter fraud, the size of his Inauguration crowd, allegations that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower and most recently the legend of General Pershing stopping Muslim terrorists for 35 years. (List of Trump Lies) Rather than delving into a serious policy agenda or advancing US interests abroad, Trump spends his time watching TV and feeding his disillusioned base tweets about fake news.
Unlike people with strong ties to ancient cultures who are able to concurrently accept the scientific explanation of a solar eclipse and also celebrate cultural mythology, Trump’s staunchest defenders accept his myths without interest in reality.
In the wake of Charlottesville, we are reminded that far too many people still cling to false narratives to justify hate. President Trump is a petty man at a time when we are in dire need of moral leadership to unify our nation. Instead we are stuck with a President who shrinks in the face of basic expectations of decency. His response last week was so disgraceful that Heather Heyer’s mother - a mother whose daughter was killed by a domestic terrorist in Charlottesville - will not even take a phone call from the President of the United States.
A President who uses hate as political capital cannot be trusted to defend American values. Unlike our ancestors who turned to mythology to explain the inconceivable, this president simply ignores verifiable facts in favor of exaggerations and lies so he can promote his own interests. President Trump’s combative posture toward the free press continues to expose his insecurity.
Trump is delivering on a pact with his most devout followers
Trump’s rise to power affirms the clutch of bigotry on the United States. His racist birther allegations were among the many warning shots his voters ignored. Even Trump’s sharpest critics were surprised by his morally bankrupt display of incompetence in his response to Charlottesville.
Trump, cloaked in the mythology that Confederate monuments are purely a salute to Southern heritage, is laying his baggage right before our eyes once again. His lack of understanding and curiosity about history and the US Constitution should disqualify him from being our Commander-in-Chief. Like the Southern politicians who erected statues commemorating Confederate generals decades after the Civil War, Trump resorts to fear and intimidation to promote a destructive agenda.
Unlike the monuments, whose harmful expression lies in their placement outside courthouses and jails, Trump offers a troubled nation “both sides” and “many fine people” as further insight into his deranged worldview.
His privilege is intricately wound into the trajectory of his political rise. We should not be surprised that Trump is unwittingly exposing a United States struggling mightily to deal honestly with racism, when the man himself seems incapable of diagnosing its mere existence. His fragile psyche has impaired his judgment so much that he takes all criticism as an affront to his unprecedented election victory.
In light of “Grab ’em by the (explicative)”, denigrating a Gold Star family, and mocking a disabled reporter, Charlottesville is just the most recent in a long list of trust-shattering episodes. The Charlottesville low feels unique now, but the likelihood that we still have not seen the worst of Donald Trump is quite certain. It is also frightening.
First Lady Michelle Obama warned us in 2012 when she said, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” No one could have predicted the precise conditions that were going to reveal the smallness of Trump last week, but the path to Charlottesville was in motion long before Inauguration Day.
His abhorrent behavior and enmity toward those with differing perspectives is nothing new. The same followers who looked past his claim that Judge Gonzalo Curiel was incapable of doing his job because of his Mexican heritage are still excusing his astonishing absence of discipline, self-awareness and humility. The White House is buckling under the pressure to advance an agenda with a president crippled by his severe limitations and insecurity.
As a nation we declared implicit approval of racism by electing Donald Trump and now it is up to all of us - including Republicans and Independents - to change course and push back against hate. Candidate Trump signaled exactly what we should expect, and President Trump has delivered on those expectations.
With passion and dogged determination we can ensure that President Trump fails to deliver on the promise of division that many of his supporters believe his victory sanctioned. Charlottesville reminds us to remain vigilant and steadfast in our opposition to bigotry. Now, more than ever, we must not tire in the face of a deliberate threat to our ideals.