Okay, now this is getting personal. I have spent my entire adult life maneuvering through political landmines and public policy debates. I have had Republican friends and conservative friends. I have dated women where serious but good natured banter has never prevented us from being friends and lovers. Being a committed liberal I have always defended others’ rights to express differing viewpoints despite the fact that I felt strongly they were wrong. This is America.
I consider myself to be a strong-willed yet pragmatic realist who is willing to compromise on everything except basic principles such as tolerance, nonviolence, and rationality. A former colleague once introduced me to his study group at the Kennedy School of Government as an irresolute idealist. I can live with that. I have salvaged my integrity in a profession where it is costly to do so and though I have stunted my ability to advance, what some may say “succeed,” I am perfectly comfortable with my life personally and my accomplishments professionally. It is important when all is said and done that we are comfortable with who we are. I sincerely doubt that Donald Trump can say the same. He is a deeply troubled individual who is sharing his misery with all of us and dragging us down with him.
Since his ascension to the White House I have found it increasingly more difficult to engage even long-time friends in discussions over matters important and unimportant. I have even experienced the loss of a personal relationship in part due to a sense of impending doom that noticeably changed her attitude towards the world. Of course that is a personal explanation to which I am sure I would get serious debate but that is my story and I am sticking with it.
Just this past week, however, I found myself in an internet discussion with an old college chum concerning the president’s furor over professional athletes not paying significant attention to honoring either the flag, the anthem, the country or God knows what and despite a friendship that has lasted over 40 years found myself in the middle of a verbal firestorm. He has always been more conservative than me but I thought over the years we had settled on a solid middle ground where we could both agree on basics and have respectful differences of opinion. That, however, is not the case here. What happened?
Whether or not it makes a significant difference, he lives in rural Georgia and I live in Los Angeles. Maybe the distance is much farther than I thought. What makes the disagreement all the more troublesome is that I am convinced it is a manufactured distraction from the serious debates that ought to be taking place, i.e., a potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea, the life and death realities facing residents in Puerto Rico, an expanding set of investigations into Russian interference with our democratic institutions and possible collusion bordering on treason, health care reform, infrastructure instability, immigration policy, economic inequality, voter suppression, systemic racism, and a general crisis in confidence with our government leaders and institutions.
While there are plenty of substantive, critically important, even life and death issues that we could and should be talking about here we are arguing over the merits of freedom of speech and expression. Are you kidding me? Here we are talking about the importance of worshipping the flag and/or the national anthem at a sporting event. Really? The flag was most likely made in China to begin with. It represents a symbol of the ideals that the country supposedly stands for. The first amendment is about as fundamental as it gets. We should respect the ideals not the symbol. Is this what it has come to? Unfortunately I fear the answer is increasingly yes.
The piece de resistance is when the argument inevitably turns to the inevitable respect for those who have died to protect those ideals. This is the ace in the hole, the trump card so to speak when all else has failed, default to those in uniform. Well, I have not talked to one veteran who buys it. Their comrades did not die fighting for the flag or the anthem, but rather the American way of life and the ideals for which it exists. This is America, defending the rights of others to disagree, to be different, to coexist in a democratic society. But the president either does not comprehend or outright rejects this most fundamental principle of freedom.
Whether Trump uses distraction via instinct or through premeditated strategic thinking is of little consequence unless the debate is over whether there is any intellectual component involved in his decisions at all. The fact is distraction strikes a nerve with his base and incites divisiveness within an exhausted, frustrated, and angry population dissatisfied with the string of defeats Trump has produced. His promises ring hollow, the lies and deceit sap citizens’ confidence in a promising future or even an acceptable present, the pretentious bravado and swagger of a three card monte huckster loses even its entertainment value, and each day brings with it the specter of negative sensationalism built around corruption and incompetence that destroys the collective national will. In Trumpworld distraction and conflict serve as the ying and yang of obfuscation and allows him to skirt from one disaster to the next.
Trump lives for adoration and praise and even the slightest hint of criticism will take him to the heights of fury and wild flailing that seriously questions his mental stability. To say that our president has anger management issues is to so blatantly state the obvious that it merely elicits a shrug of most shoulders. Anger management issues and control of the nuclear codes are a toxic mix and a disaster waiting to happen, particularly when your adversary possesses the same deficiencies.
Trump is a destructive force. In all likelihood the pace of the impending investigations is getting dangerously close to exposing the president and his family for the treasonous charlatans they are. The noose is tightening around the royal family and their collection of court jesters. Trump, the grand pretender to the throne with a debilitating narcissistic personality disorder is flirting with the ultimate embarrassment: namely being outed for the fraud that he is, and he is quite literally losing it.
Trump is not used to and has shown incredibly thin skin in the face of confrontation. The seriousness of the disaster in Puerto Rico has reached a boiling point and the fact that the mayor of San Juan is directly challenging his competency is severely compounded by the fact that she is a strong, compassionate, and serious leader. Of course, it is also compounded by the fact that she is, in fact, a woman. This triggers another major deficiency that was exposed during the campaign: namely, that Trump is a misogynist.
People will die because of Trump’s ineptitude and poor decision-making. These tragedies, like the one unfolding at this very moment on that Caribbean island will be a part of his legacy. The mayor has gone so far as to use the term genocide. Add that to his growing list of failures not only as president but as a human being.
If the evidence suggests that collusion with a foreign adversary is the glue which has held this motley crew together through an election rigged to defraud democracy they must be prosecuted for crimes against the nation. This should be keeping them up at night. Let justice be served. And the sooner the better.