Grappling with Trump

Witnessing Donald Trump’s unpredictable, illogical, uncivil and deeply disturbing actions since he took office is an experience that’s difficult to describe, let alone assimilate. I’ve seen nothing like it. There’s no ‘American’ place to put it.

Comparisons to Watergate don’t work for me, because with Nixon, as conniving and manipulative as he was, there was some feeling of living in a shared reality. So, chillingly, it’s comparisons to the Germany of the 1930’s that has more resonance when it comes to Trump. A LOT more resonance.

How?

Well, for starters, there’s the fact that citizens of this country who are not white Christian males are seeing their rights called to question, if not outright violated.  This is built on a pathetic foundation of lies, starting with the distorted idea that white Christian males are a victimized group and also a group that is entitled to be treated better.

Make America Great Again

There’s nostalgia for a past when things were better (for white Christian  males) and a belief that this is how it should be. And this is founded on a lack of education, a lack of empathy, and a lack of any sense of real history.

Instead of an actual awareness of and learning from history, we have this illusory, Halcyon nostalgia that Hitler milked then, and Trump and his minions are milking now. They lather up the right, fueling their feelings of entitlement and of having been wronged. They point to an enemy or enemies, promise to oust them  – and that’s how they gain and consolidate their power.

So in Trump’s regime — like Hitler’s, the only people who aren’t going to be targets of hate are white Christian males. We see T-shirts proudly calling a presidential candidate a cunt and trumpeting “Lock her up!” We see immigrants, African-Americans, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, journalists, and the LBGTQ community targeted. We see racism emboldened and unleashed.

And we see the acolytes of the Alt-Right placed in positions of power.

I am not naive about racism in America. We have a long, long way to go. But having a white supremacist as a senior advisor to the President is an in-your-face move that sends clear messages to each and every one of us.

Like Hitler, Trump talks in black-and-white terms when nuance is accurate and is what’s needed. Nuance doesn’t serve him. He talks about “bad guys” and “bad hombres.” He decries “fake news” like the NY Times. His goal is to cut off access to real news by undermining trust in anything other than what emanates from his Twitter-feed or from Breitbart.

And the GOP? The GOP has itself tied in knots as it tries to decide whether to prioritize the good of the country or of the party. Look to history, Paul, Mitch — that would be my advice to you.  Look to history and grow some. Put your legislative agenda aside and use this time to dethrone a dangerous madman.

And for me? I keep looking around and thinking, how did we get here? Trump lost the popular vote, yeah. But a whole lot of people voted for him.

People who carry a lot of anger and hatred. People who believe they have been wronged and deserve retribution or recompense … or a return to a golden past that was built on the backs of other people.

I know there’s got to be more nuance here than I tend to see. I know I need to listen and try to understand. But I also know that there’s a line. Trump is over that line. His administration is over that line. Nothing normal or okay about it … so Democrats, do your damnedest, and hopefully the GOP will come along.

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