Trump: the perfect American

Donald Trump is the perfect American.

Born into a life of the unimaginable wealth, privilege, and freedom from consequences reserved for the 1% of the 1%, he yesterday made clear the paramount American principle that will dictate our reaction to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabian government: Money Talks. If you buy enough warplanes from us, you can brutally murder journalists; it’s all good.

We get the politicians we deserve. And the politicians we deserve further shape who we are. We got Trump because enough of us don’t care about facts, basic morality and ethical principles that we (sort of) elected someone who perfectly embodies our ignorance and arrogance to run the whole show. And now, ignorance and “America-first” arrogance are bedrock national policy, along with disregard for science and fact, at least when they come into conflict with making money or cementing political alliances and concentrations of power.

At least it makes it easy for the rest of the world to know where we stand on anything. Trump is nothing if not predictable. Flatter him, and he’s your best friend. Criticize him, and you are the enemy. Agreements are for the weak. History is irrelevant. Everything is for sale. Ratings are all that matter. (And brown people who speak other languages are scary.)

Spring 2018

So. A year later, let’s take stock.

Trump is still in office, though burnout within his cabinet is astonishing as people bail out or get fired left or right.

There is a broad feeling in the US (if not the world) that we are now in a “post-truth” society, where facts don’t matter. We have a president who regularly assails the media (even calling it “the enemy of the American people,” a play straight out of the fascist dictator manual), the judiciary, the legislative branch, and even his own intelligence agencies.

Fox News is basically Pravda for the Trump administration. Sean Hannity went berserk when Obama wore a tan suit or put brown mustard on something; Trump invites Russia to hack the election and pays hush money to porn stars he slept with right after his son was born and calls neo-nazis and white supremacists “very fine people” and Hannity doesn’t bat an eye.

And nobody cares. Or, at least, there appear to be no consequences for anybody in power.

The midterms are coming up and there’s broad consensus that there will be a big wave of progressive pushback and Democrats will retake the house and possibly the Senate, which means they’d have a bit more power to at least throw sand in the gears for whatever time remains until this nightmare ends. Then again, we know how the election was supposed to turn out, and what actually happened.

American decline, internally and globally, is in full swing and irreversible. No country with any sense would ever trust the US on anything from now on; the simple reality shows that negotiated treaties mean nothing to America and it all depends on who’s in power every 4-year cycle. Internally, we continue to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and wipe out the social safety net and decimate public health and education and the environment. There is a category of powerful and entrenched people – the “swamp” that Trump has made even deeper – who don’t see any problem with this, or at least have confidence that they’ll be shielded from the repercussions and the shit will fall on future generations after they’re gone. They might be right about that.

In any event, it says right here that Trump does not stand for re-election in 2020, unless something happens between now and then that somehow make it 100% certain that he would win, or unless he can construct the narrative that the system is “fixed” unless he wins. Because he won’t win, and he won’t let himself be put in a position where he could legitimately lose. His ego is far too fragile. He has to have it taken away from him so he can spend the rest of his life screaming from the sidelines about the injustices he suffered, and that he totally would have won in a landslide if he’d run. Put that in the bank.

The US is almost ungovernable now. Imagine what it will look like when the 35% or whatever of American voters who will support Trump through anything lose their man because the system finally shut him down. Riots? Secessions? Civil war? Where is the “unthinkable” line at this point? Consider how far it’s moved in the last 2 years.

People like me who still believe in the principles of the Enlightenment are on the losing side, but the right side. Facts matter. Thinking matters. The willingness – the RESPONSIBILITY – to change your mind when the facts don’t align with your wishes and opinions and beliefs, MATTERS. Maybe Enlightenment has to rise out of the ashes of human suffering; maybe we stop deserving it when we’ve been too comfortable for too long, and maybe things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better. But never stop fighting. And never adopt the other side’s tactics. Stay on the high road, even when – ESPECIALLY when – they go low, and even if they win as a result.

Spring prediction

Since I did such a good job predicting Trump’s defeat, let’s keep going. My prediction is that he won’t be president very much longer.

This is because he doesn’t WANT to be president. He never did. He never wanted to do the actual WORK. He just likes to be on TV and in front of cheering crowds. Actual governing, with limited powers, is tedious and messy and requires attention to detail and diplomacy, which he has, respectively, zero and zero of. What he wanted was what Hillary got: to win the popular vote, but to lose the election on a technicality, so he could spend the following years heckling from the sidelines with a sense of aggrieved injustice, convinced that the People love him and that he’s been wronged, and with the delicious ability to generate headlines every time he opens his obnoxious mouth and play to crowds and swim in the adulation he craves, with no actual responsibilities.

So I think he’s making it impossible for himself to remain president, consciously or unconsciously, through self-sabotage and an endless spiral of scandals upon scandals. He won’t quit, but he’ll have to make it feel like it was stolen from him by a corrupt system. And his followers will eat it up. Of course, this is all their fault to begin with.

The spineless Republicans in Congress will back him as long as he’s useful, to help them rip out health care protections and environmental regulations and wall street regulations and so forth, and then once they’ve used him up, they’ll suddenly find their morals and turn on him and congratulate themselves for being such great Americans that they’ll put country over party. And of course, they’ll just move a different Republican into the white house.

So that’s what it says here. No way he makes it to 2020, or 2019. Might not make it through 2017. Let’s hope not.

Message to the world #2

I just want to remind the world, in this tiny message in a tiny bottle, that a MINORITY GOVERNMENT is in place in America making these horrible things happen. More people voted AGAINST trump than FOR him. More Americans are AGHAST at what is happening than support it.

They have the power, for now. They may build walls; we will tear them down when it’s our turn. They may turn their backs on the world; we will reach out again when it’s our turn. They may abandon our commitments; we will renew them when it’s our turn.

We may come out of this better, if we survive it. Since we haven’t had a war here at home since the 1860s, maybe we’ve lost touch with suffering; it’s just something we see on TV. Maybe this is needed, as a horrible thing to go through with real consequences that will stiffen the spines of those who survive and help us rediscover our founding ideals.

Maybe not.

In any case, nobody would fault you for ceasing to take us seriously as a nation anymore. We let this happen. And you are right to realize that even after we get control back again, it could just as easily swing back to craziness on very short notice. Our people are ignorant and don’t care about things that aren’t right in front of them. America was a beacon for the world for a while. It may now fall to others to lead, as our empire crumbles. Germany has the moral high ground now, standing up for human rights and the rule of law and the things we once stood up for too. Maybe what remains of Europe will have to cauterize us like a wound. and just continue to move forward and light the way while we fumble in the darkness.

I am so ashamed.

Please just remember: there are more of us than there are of them. No matter what happens.

Do what you need to do.

Message to the world

Dear world,

We haven’t given you much reason to have confidence in us. We – or a minority of us – have just elected a protofascist, nationalist, racist, sexist, xenophobic, isolationist narcissist with the attention span of a fruitfly to arguably the most powerful position on earth. We have turned our backs on facts and science and love and decency, and shamefully given in to fear, hate, selfishness, ignorance, and monstrously unforgivable short-sightedness.

Nobody could fault you for just building a wall around US and leaving us to eat each other, while you continue to go forwards. Many of you have your own protofascist shit to deal with – there’s an upswing of it lately, and Islamic terrorists murdering innocent civilians in countries that have welcomed them aren’t fucking helping, guys – but still, we have taken a giant step back from the Enlightenment, and we have a long and painful road ahead of us.

All I ask is that you remember that America is bitterly divided, and there are more of US then there are of THEM. Because of our idiotic electoral college that gives more weight to the votes in former slave states, our orange-skinned short-fingered vulgarian has ascended to the White House despite losing the popular vote by millions of votes. That’s our bad, and it shouldn’t have even been that close, but still, Trump and his people are A MINORITY of Americans. Far less than half of us support him. The rest would still be decent world citizens who believe in truth, fairness for all people, the rule of law, and equal opportunities and rights for ALL human beings on the planet, not just those we think are similar to us.

Millions and millions of people took to the streets around the world today to protest the current state of affairs; I was among them, as I hope many of you were too. This video shows a tiny slice of what happened. Take heart and believe. Believe in the Enlightenment. Believe in progress, and moving AWAY FROM hate, fear, and selfishness, even though they have temporarily triumphed. We know you can’t solve our problems, other than by continuing to be better on your own and leaving us in the dust. Don’t wait for us. Just remember that most of us are with you, despite the loud and ugly voices of the minority that has taken power here. Our voices will never be as loud, but there are more of us than there are of them.

Wish us luck. We’re going to need a lot more than that, but I don’t know what it is just yet.

Seems like a good point for a reboot.

If this isn’t a moment to start over and refocus, I don’t know what is.

2017 is upon us. I spent 2016, and much of 2015, reassuring friends and family that this whole Trump thing would just give us a good scare, but that in the end of course he’d lose – deep down, we aren’t THAT stupid – and everything would be fine. I was completely convinced of that, right up until about 11pm on election night, as I watched the unbelievable cascade of swing states go down one by one, and realized that I was wrong and the world was now upended.

And now progressives are being told that it’s our fault for not listening enough to the concerns of poor, poorly educated white people.

I don’t fucking buy it.

Trump is an absolute nightmare come to life for anyone who shares the values of the Enlightenment. The four cardinal virtues are courage, justice, wisdom and temperance. He possesses none of them. Bluster is not courage. His reaction to perceived dissent is to punish it (flag-burners should get a year in jail or lose their citizenship). He has parlayed a life of sumptuous wealth and privilege into nothing but self-aggrandizement; he has absolutely no qualifications to be President of the United States. Not a day of public or military service in his entire life. He lies pathologically and brazenly, unapologetically and even proudly, and his supporters eat it up, thinking he’s laughing with them and not at them. He boasts about the power he wields that allows him to sexually assault women and walk in on half-naked teenagers whose beauty pageants he owns. And now as the President-elect, he tweets about the balance of global nuclear power, which can extinguish life on earth in a breath, as carelessly as he tweet-feuds with celebrities who make him mad. People who voted for him are either racist / sexist / whatever-ist themselves, or willing to tolerate someone who IS in exchange for the liberal tears they’d been craving.

This wasn’t what the next four years were supposed to be about. The issue was supposed to be that we weren’t moving forward quickly enough. Not that we are actually being pulled backwards towards the dark ages again. Not that we have to actually put our focus back on civil fucking rights again, like it’s even a fucking question.

I have no idea how we’re going to manage this, but I know this: I am in the resistance. I will never back down from facts, science, reason, logic, intelligence, and compassion for ALL people, all races / ethnicities / religions or lack thereof / sexualities / genders / nationalities and whatever other categories that fearful people use to put people in “other” groups. If this makes me an enemy of the new State, then so be it. I don’t want to belong to a State that resists any of that.

NO to walls, to fear, to hate, to discrimination, to wars, to unjust laws, to the power of wealth, to racism, to sexism, to homo/trans/xeno/islamo/whateverthefucko-phobia, to destroyers, to ignorance, to malice, to abusers and manipulators and gaslighters, to tyrants and to would-be tyrants. And a spectacular FUCK YOU to the Patriarchy, and to those for whom it was teed up and ready to smash, and who chose not to because of fear, hate, selfishness and/or ignorance.

I’ve had 50 years of relative peace and comfort as a white American male. I’m ready to give that up. It was a good run. Whatever it takes to resist the rise of fascism in America, I will do.

No more silence. No more normalizing.

Vive la Resistance.