If you despise President Trump’s words, tactics and policies, buckle your seat belts. Things are likely to get worse. It has become commonplace to claim the Republican Party now is the “Trump party.” Republican leaders certainly have devoted themselves to doing his bidding and have performed remarkable feats of mental gymnastics to reconcile their previously articulated values with those of his administration. But viewing the GOP as the “Trump party” is far too simplistic. This implies that once he is gone from the White House, things will return to “normal.” In fact, the GOP is far more likely to continue its radicalization, post-Trump, than it is to moderate. Trump is just the beginning. The social trends that propelled him into office will only accelerate. Researchers have identified a strong correlation between those with authoritarian tendencies and support for Trump. In fact, authoritarianism appears to predict support for Trump better than any other factor. Scholars on authoritarianism also believe that latent authoritarian tendencies are triggered by external threats (such as from China, Russia, ISIS or Iran) and by rapid societal change.
Piggybacking on that same theme, do not underestimate the danger: nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/
This willingness to eschew democracy in favor of authoritarianism was forecast by Zachary Roth before Trump’s election. He noted that, recognizing that they were about to become a permanent minority, Republicans decided that “being outnumbered doesn’t have to mean losing.” The strategies employed to undermine democracy included voter suppression, gerrymandering, fighting for the involvement of dark money in politics, judicial engagement, and something called pre-emption, by which red states overruled laws passed by more progressive local communities. But the most prescient analysis of what has recently become more obvious came from Doug Muder back in 2014 in an article titled, “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party.” He compared what was happening in the Republican Party following the election of the first African American president to the response of confederates to Reconstruction following the Civil War. There is no greater example of what it means to be privileged than watching the right abandon democracy in favor of authoritarianism as a means to maintain power.
Trump Keeps Trampling on the Constitution
Among the many abuses, Trump is now floating the idea of blowing right past presidential term limits. It’s quite apparent he wants the same status as his dictator buddies around the world. And it’s also apparent the biggest nutjobs among his Second-Amendment-loving Trumpeters would go to battle at Trump’s urging. These articles expose the Trump & GOP authoritarian dream of serving an indefinite term in office:
It’s been a big week for the president’s longstanding project to undermine the authenticity of American elections. On Wednesday, Trump went on national television to declare that he wouldn’t inform the FBI if a foreign power came to his campaign with information on an opponent, à la a more effective version of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. And to kick off Father’s Day on Sunday, he suggested on Twitter that his supporters may not accept an electoral-college loss in 2020, or the prospect of the end of the Trump era in 2024.
Trump has expressed similar ideas three times in the past year and change, beginning with his March 2018 joke about canceling the 22nd Amendment and establishing a presidency-for-life, because it’s worked so well for China’s Xi Jinping. “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.” On April 18, the day the redacted Mueller report was made public, Trump joked to a crowd at the White House that he might remain in the building for over a decade. When the CEO of the veterans charity Wounded Warrior Project gave the president a trophy, Trump said that it would “find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office.” The crowd laughed, and Trump added, “I was going to joke, General, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we’ll say six.” And in May, the president retweeted Jerry Falwell Jr.’s claim that “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”
Given Trump’s tendency to project with his hypothetical questions, the idea appears to be taking hold. That he has already declared that the 2016 election was stolen from him by “millions of illegal votes” cast for Hillary Clinton only makes the constitutional crisis more likely to come. His party, mired in its own crisis about non-existent voter fraud, is unlikely to counter him on it. As New York’s Ed Kilgore noted the last time there were concerns about Trump staying on past his term, what makes the “Republican subscription to asinine conspiracy theories about election stealing especially dangerous is that it reflects and feeds their leader’s inability to accept electoral setbacks as legitimate.” In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was worried that if the Democratic candidate for president did not win by a grand margin in 2020, Trump would contest election results. “We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” she told the New York Times. As Trump officially kicks off his campaign on Tuesday in Florida, Democrats may have to put more resources into that prep work if Trump continues these calls. Perhaps it might be best to channel the president’s own (unfounded) claims from April about vote counting: “You gotta be a little bit more paranoid than you are.”
Millions Failing to Recognize the Obvious Lies
It’s hard to know which is the bigger threat, that our nation’s leader is a pathological liar, or that many of our citizens display such over-the-top gullibility, abject ignorance & a total lack of discernment in actually believing those many lies. They willingly swallow the Trump BS! But that leader & his base taken together, it represents an assault on truth that could cause our constitutional rule of law & democracy to crumble. About half the article from theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/
Eventually, we all come to understand that words are the means by which we teach and inspire, defend truth, and seek justice. (Those of us of the Christian faith don’t consider it an accident that the first sentence in the Gospel of John is, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”) So words have extraordinary power—in our daily lives most of all, but in politics as well. Democracy requires that we honor the culture of words. The very idea of democracy is based on the hope that fellow citizens can reason together and find a system for adjudicating differences and solving problems—all of which assumes there is a shared commitment to the integrity of our public words. If you believe words can ennoble, you must also believe they can debase. If they can elevate the human spirit, they can also pull it down. And when words are weaponized by our political leaders and used to paint all opponents as inherently evil, stupid, or weak, then democracy’s foundations are put in peril. Which brings us to the dismal, demoralizing Donald Trump era.
The debasement of words has reached a zenith with the coming of America’s 45th president, who dominates discourse in this country in ways perhaps no other president ever has. And if we hope to repair the damage that’s been done, we need to understand what it is about Trump’s misuse of words that is pernicious and dangerous. The least problematic part is the sheer banality of Donald Trump’s words. During his presidency, Trump has uttered no beautiful and memorable phrases. His inaugural address, which is a speech normally meant to inspire the citizenry, is remembered, if at all, for the phrase American carnage and Trump’s description of a dystopian nation, broken and shattered. More worrisome is that many of Trump’s utterances are an incoherent word salad. If you read the transcript of many of his interviews and extemporaneous speeches, you often find that Trump is not only unable to lay out a coherent argument; at times he’s unable to string together sentences that parse.
But that’s hardly the worst of Trump’s misuses of words. When it comes to dealing with those who oppose him, he consistently uses words to demean, belittle, bully, or dehumanize. He has mocked former prisoners of war, the disabled, and the appearance of women. He has perpetuated conspiracy theories. He has attacked Gold Star parents and widows. And he has engaged in racially tinged attacks. The number of his targets is inexhaustible because Trump’s brutishness is inexhaustible. Many other presidents have been viewed as divisive figures, but none have taken as much delight as Trump in provoking acrimony, malice, and bitterness for their own sake; in turning Americans against one another in order to turn them against one another. He seems to find psychic satisfaction in doing so. The banality and weaponization of Trump’s words are bad enough, but the greatest cause for concern is his nonstop, dawn-to-midnight assault on facts, truth, reality.
That places Trump in a sinister category all his own. Many politicians are guilty of not telling the full truth of events. A significant number shade the truth from time to time. A few fall into the category of consistent, outright liars. But only very few—and only the most dangerous—are committed to destroying the very idea of truth itself. That is what we have in Donald Trump, along with many of his aides and courtiers. We saw it at the dawn of the Trump presidency, when he insisted—and sent out his press secretary to insist—that the crowd size at his inauguration was larger than that of Barack Obama’s, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. And that behavior has continued virtually every day since. According to The Washington Post, Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims as president, roughly 12 a day. The Trump presidency is notable for the number and velocity of his falsehoods and misleading statements. They have been made in speeches and tweets, on matters significant and trivial, about others and about himself—and he virtually never apologizes or issues corrections. He says what he wants, when he wants, regardless of the reality of things.
In a 2018 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump said, “And just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” In other words, who are you going to believe—me or your lyin’ eyes? “The man lies all the time,” writes Thomas Wells, an attorney Trump once hired. In Bob Woodward’s book Fear, Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd describes the president as “a f******” liar,” telling Trump he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And the former White House aide Anthony Scaramucci, when asked whether he considers Trump a liar, admitted, “Okay, well we both know that he’s telling lies. So if you want me to say he’s a liar, I’m happy to say he’s a liar.” (In a later interview Scaramucci put it this way: “He’s an intentional liar. It’s very different from just being a liar-liar.”) Trump is not simply a serial liar; he is attempting to murder the very idea of truth, which is even worse. “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda,” according to the Russian dissident and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov. “It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”
This is an urgent matter, and it makes this a dangerous moment because without truth and a common factual basis for our national life, a free society cannot operate. And right now, for a significant number of Americans—including many people on the right who long defended the concept of objective truth and repeatedly rang the alarm bell about the rise of relativism—truth is viewed as relative rather than objective, malleable rather than solid; as instrumental, as a means to an end, as a weapon in our intense political war. A depressingly large number of Trump supporters—again, many of whom have for years agreed with the conservative political philosopher Allan Bloom that relativism was impoverishing our souls—now seem to relish this “post-truth” political moment.
Friedrich Nietzsche coined a term, perspectivism, to describe the idea that there is no objective truth; we all get to make up our own reality, our own script, our own set of facts, and everything is conditioned to what one’s own perspective is. We saw this illustrated in the 2016 campaign, when Newt Gingrich insisted during a morning-show interview on defending Trump’s claim that crime rates were soaring. When the host, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, cited FBI data to support her claim that we are safer and crime is down, Gingrich responded, “No. That’s your view.” When Camerota countered that this wasn’t simply a subjective matter and once again cited FBI crime statistics, Gingrich responded, “As a political candidate, I’ll go with how people feel, and I’ll let you go with the theoreticians.” In other words, facts be damned; my feelings will create my own reality. (By the way, those who assemble crime statistics are not “theoreticians.” They are documenting empirical data.)
Destroy the foundation of factual truth, and lies will be normalized. This is what the Czech dissident (and later president) Václav Havel described in the late 1970s when he wrote about his fellow citizens making their own inner peace with a regime built on hypocrisy and falsehoods. They were “living within the lie.” In such a situation life becomes farcical, demoralizing, a theater of the absurd. It is soul-destroying.
His Utterances are Gibberish, which Here in Part 2 We Accurately Describe It as Classic Trump BS
Some more instances of the prez mangling the truth came from that ABC News interview aired last week. By closing in on a documented 11,000 lies during his 2-1/2 years in office, that likely exceeds by 100x any other president in our 2-1/2 centuries history. The fact he lies so much isn’t just my opinion, but is indeed a fact that is verifiable. And it’s sad. When a nation’s leader lies constantly as Trump has, most intelligent Americans can easily figure that out over time, which obliterates the trust people should have in their president. And foreign nations also can’t trust his word, very problematic when our country is regarded as the leader of the free world & preeminent military power. It’s hard to make good deals & establish healthy relationships when nobody trusts you. The consequences of a completely dishonest presidency could culminate in catastrophic results. For the blindly-loyal Trumpeters who inexplicably still trust this guy, check out these articles exposing the unmistakable Trump BS:
Veteran GOP strategist Rick Wilson on Tuesday pointed out one of the biggest problems Democrats must face up to “very quickly” during the 2020 election — President Donald Trump’s ability to lie, and lie rapidly. Wilson warned on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” that Trump will “spout a torrent, a tidal wave of BS in this campaign and they’re gonna try to play catch up with it every day and they’re not going to be able to because he can lie with a speed and faculty that no one else has ever had.” The Florida based political consultant had earlier explained how Trump could “say anything and do anything and there’s no boundary he can cross” that loses the votes of his hard-core supporters, such as the members of his base who attended his reelection campaign launch Tuesday in Orlando. “The ones that were committed enough to go and show up in that room tonight, they live in a completely separate political sphere now,” said Wilson, who previously worked on political campaigns for former President George H.W. Bush and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “It is hermetic,” he added. “They live inside Donald Trump’s definitions of reality. He can tell them ‘the wall is 3,000 feet long and made of solid gold and has alligator moats’ and they’ll say ‘Of course it does.’” “They believe what he tells them, and it doesn’t matter.” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column reported last week that, as of June 7, Trump had made 10,796 false or misleading claims in office since his inauguration in January 2017.
Trump has been ramping up his “Deep State” rhetoric again. He’s back to blaming a cabal of bureaucrats, FBI and CIA agents, Democrats, and “enemies of the people” in the mainstream media, for conspiring to remove him from office in order to allow the denizens of foreign shi*tholes to overrun America. But with each passing day it’s becoming clearer that the real threat to America isn’t Trump’s Deep State. It’s Trump’s Corrupt State. Not since Warren G. Harding’s sordid administration have as many grifters, crooks and cronies occupied high positions in Washington. Trump has installed a Star Wars Cantina of former lobbyists and con artists, including several whose exploits have already forced them to resign, such as Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, and Michael Flynn. Many others remain. When he was in Congress, the current White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from payday lenders, then proposed loosening regulations on them. Trump appointed Mulvaney acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of all things.
The Corrupt State starts with Trump himself, giving new meaning to the old adage about a fish rotting from the head down. When foreign governments aren’t currying favor with Trump by staying at his Washington hotel, they’re using state-owned companies to finance projects that will line Trump’s pocket, like China’s $500 million entertainment complex in Indonesia that includes a Trump-branded hotel. Trump claims the Deep State allows foreigners to take advantage of America. The reality is Trump’s Corrupt State allows Vladimir Putin and his goon squad to continue undermining American democracy. “I’d take it” if Russia again offered campaign help, Trump crowed last week, adding that he wouldn’t necessarily tell the FBI about it. Just days before, Trump acknowledged “Russia helping me get elected” the first time. Despite evidence that Russia is back hacking and trolling its way toward the 2020 election, Republican defenders of Trump’s Corrupt State won’t lift a finger. Trump and his Republican enablers are playing magicians who distract us by shouting “look here!” at the paranoid fantasy of a Deep State, while creating a Corrupt State under our noses. But it’s not a party trick. It’s the dirtiest trick of our time, enabled by the most corrupt party in living memory.
Trump is Smashing our Hope
On Friday, former evangelical Republican, Peter Wehner explained why President Donald Trump’s divisive behaviors caused him to leave the conservative right. “My faith is more important than politics,” Wehner said in a C-Span interview. He went on to explain that while he understands why Republicans voted for and support Trump; he noted that they miss the mark when they refuse to stand up and hold Trump accountable for his actions. “Most self-proclaimed evangelicals are conservative, in their ideology and their politics. The president represents the Republican Party, which has traditionally been the more conservative party. The president is advocating policies particularly in areas that evangelicals traditionally care about,” he said. Wehner said, “My criticism is not that they support the president or his policies.Where I criticize, a lot of the evangelicals is that they won’t hold Donald Trump to account. The man was an unindicted co-conspirator on hush money payments to a porn star. He was having an affair with her on his third wife after their son was born. If that had happened to a liberal Democrat, such as Bill Clinton or Barack Obama — can you imagine what the evangelicals would say?”