Politics

What? Us Worry?

It’s over now. There is no doubt that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.

Bigger questions (e.g., how much did they collude, what info did they gain, did this info sway the election, etc) are the next frontier in this never-ending freak show of incompetence, corruption, hubris, and possible treason.

It is no longer liberal paranoia to ask about impeachment, or the 25th Amendment. At the very least, all patriotic Americans should be demanding answers and an end to blatant lies spewing from the White House.

But of course, that is not happening.

Instead, conservatives are telling us that working with a hostile government to undermine democracy and then covering it up, while distasteful, is not as bad as, say, lying about a blowjob. Or they are telling us that collusion is actually a good thing.

Hey, many Trump supporters insist that Jr’s meeting with the Russians never happened — despite the fact that he admitted it.

“It’s time to move on,” the White House has been saying for a couple of months now, and many of your friends on Facebook no doubt have said the same thing.

Yes, it is indeed strange how the crowd that still wants Hilary Clinton thrown in jail is very eager to let bygones be bygones when it comes to Russian hacking. And speaking of the former presidential candidate, we all know the outcome of her email fiasco. No charges were brought against Clinton, and while you may not have agreed with that conclusion, it was clearly the result of a thorough investigation that came to a definitive end. It wasn’t the result of some benign collective urge to “just let it go.”

No, my GOP friends, you don’t get to tell us that it is time to move on. We have to stay on this to the bitter — and I do mean, bitter — end, regardless of where it leads us.

Of course, you may think that the latest avalanche of disturbing facts is still not grounds for impeachment, or even for criminal charges. I do not agree, but we can have a civilized debate about this.

But to imply that the Trump/Russian collusion is no big deal, to insist that nobody in the Trump administration has done anything the slightest bit shady, to say it’s all a media conspiracy… well, that’s just grotesque hypocrisy and flat-out unpatriotic.

Or crazy — it might be that too.

Oh well, at least your healthcare is safe… for now.

 


The End Is Near… Supposedly

 

Is there anything more gauche than quoting yourself? Well, maybe starting an article with a rhetorical question is worse, but…

In any case, here is an excerpt from something I wrote last summer: “If there is one thing that the candidacy of Donald Trump has taught us, it is to never count him — or his followers — out.”

I was writing about the latest polls at that time, which showed that Donald Trump had as much chance of winning the election as Noam Chomsky did of landing a triple salchow to clinch the gold.

I mean, it was absurd to think Trump might capture the Electoral College — just ludicrous. Ha ha ha ha.

Ha ha.

Ha…

Yes, we’re all still laughing five months into this monstrosity of a presidency. Our laughter is not joyous, of course, nor is it resigned or world-weary. It’s more like the collective lunatic howling of the damned, which I guess still counts as laughter nonetheless.

 

Regardless, my point in that article was to be skeptical of all the experts who assured us that Trump would flame out in spectacular fashion and that America would never hand over the car keys to a man who isn’t even qualified to be the assistant undersecretary in the Federal Bureau of Weights and Measures, much less the fucking chief executive of the nation.

No, we were all a little too relaxed about the possibility of a Trump presidency. And I’ve written before about the liberal tendency to insist that this time — really, really, really this time — it’s all over for Trump.

As you recall, he wasn’t going to win the nomination, he wasn’t going to win the election, rogue electors were going to deny him the presidency, he would get impeached on his first day, he would resign in disgust immediately, and so on and so on. He would this, that, and the other thing.

All of this would prevent us from living in a world where the president of the United States repeatedly insults an ally just hours after that ally has suffered a terrorist attack, or makes America the undisputed bad guy in the history of climate change, or just in general resembles an evil, sputtering old man planning to slip razor blades into apples next Halloween.

And just today, we have confirmation of what we all knew, which is that this president is even more corrupt than Nixon and thinks “obstruction of justice” is some kind of fancy French dessert.

Well, here’s the truth: None of this really matters, because Trump’s base doesn’t care about any of this.

Hell, white supremacists and conspiracy nuts and right-wing hatemongers are all for the man, more than ever. And until just about everyone else in America says, “Enough of this shit,” his supporters are numerous enough to keep Trump’s wobbly, haphazard administration upright. The alt-right and the bigoted will not be dissuaded. They are a multitude of furious fire ants keeping the anthill from toppling over, even after repeated sprayings from the flummoxed homeowner.

And so, none of these scandals are nearly enough to end our nightmare.

Of course, the impeachment-o-meter is hovering around 40%, so what do I know?

 


A Question of Motivation

Once again, I have unintentionally created a trilogy of posts. You see, my last two articles were about the conservative mindset regarding the deep state and climate change, respectively.

So in this post, we get right to the heart of the conservative struggle — the whole basis of the right-wing worldview.

And that basis is this: Liberals are evil bastards who want to destroy America and instill a globalist empire that enslaves humanity.

At least, that’s the gist of it, as far as I can tell.

Oh, I know plenty of conservatives are all about tax cuts or small government or traditional values (whatever those are), or some combination of Republican talking points. I’m not talking about the moderates or the dabblers.

I’m referring to the increasingly powerful right wing of the Republican Party. You know, the guys (and a few women) who spout crazy shit that would have gotten them kicked out of Thanksgiving dinner in 1998 but that today leads to leadership positions in the GOP.

We don’t need to go into the details of blatant xenophobia and misogynistic displays and neo-fascist overtures and actual physical violence.

Yes, let’s please skip the details.

Instead, we can look at science, which is not terribly popular with Republicans, but we’re going to embrace it anyway.

First, there is a wealth of data that implies “conservatives are more sensitive to threat,” making them more prone to a “bias that can distort reality, fuel irrational fears, and make one more vulnerable to fear-mongering politicians.”

So if a fear-mongering politician who distorts reality just happens to come along, well, he will find a highly receptive audience within the conservative base… ahem.

But you know what seals the deal with such individuals? That’s right — a common enemy.

Because according to science, conservatives also “emphasize patriotism, group loyalty, respect for authority and moral purity.”

So a right-winger sees a liberal mouthing off about Norway’s healthcare system or daring to question whether American is truly the greatest country in the world. The conservative views this as unpatriotic, disloyal, and disrespectful. And if the liberal happens to be gay too, well that’s just plain morally impure.

As such, the progressive doesn’t just have a different opinion. He or she stands against everything that the conservative believes in, and is therefore an irredeemable enemy.

Of course, this works the other way too, in that plenty of liberals believe every conservative is a racist who kicks puppies just for fun (and it is indeed bizarre that so many Republicans seem happy to live up to this stereotype).

But keep in mind that “conservatives tend to be more structured, rigid, and to prefer clear answers.” In addition, “Conservatives approach the situation from the start with greater reactivity to threat, a greater prior belief to the level of danger in the world.”

This combo makes them more prone to conspiracy theories, where one tidy explanation, rooted in fear, ties up everything. In fact, “conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe conspiracy theories that align with their beliefs.”

And that’s how we get to today’s America, where many conservatives sincerely believe that progressives have a secret plot to destroy the country, and only Trump can preserve the nation.

Of course, there is no answer as to why exactly liberals want to destroy America. After all, liberals are supposedly a bunch of rich elitists, so one would think they would want to preserve the system, not upend it. Also, studies imply that “liberals tend to value equality, fairness and protecting the vulnerable,” which indeed sound like the priorities of a progressive. But they don’t sound like the traits of a power-hungry cabal.

Along those lines, I can state that as a progressive, I have always been mystified why conservatives believe that liberals are hell-bent on one-world government. This is not even remotely on my list of utopian goals, but according to many right-wingers, I’m willing to assassinate people to make it come true.

Clearly, it is soothing to the conservative mind to demonize progressives and attribute vile motives to them. Granted, I don’t see how liberals can be both shadowy evil geniuses and idiotic libetards, but conservatives find a way to make it work.

Now, it may seem like a new development that conservatives are insisting progressives want to wreck the country just because… well, just because. However, this attribution of nefarious, ill-defined motives is more blatant than ever before. But it is not new.

For example, a dozen years ago, we liberals were asked, in all earnestness, why we wanted the terrorists to win. Many conservatives truly believed that progressives were rooting for Al Qaeda. Much of this was because we didn’t think invading Iraq was such a great idea.

Today, just about everybody agrees that going into Baghdad was a bit of a booboo. Yet, I’ve never heard a conservative apologize for the smear job on progressives, or even state, “I guess liberals weren’t trying to sabotage America after all.”

Years from now, when everyone agrees that Trump was a horrific mistake, I imagine liberals will receive a similar non-acknowledgement of their concerns in the present-day.

But it won’t matter, because we’ll be too busy, you know, plotting to rule the world.

 


Deep, Like Really Deep

No, it’s not your imagination.

The Trump Administration really is that chaotic, incompetent, reckless, arrogant, and bizarre. It’s a wonder that this gang of hate-filled lunatics hasn’t destroyed the country already.

But of course, if you are a true Trump fan, none of this matters. Either you deny that there are any issues, and everything is going more or less according to plan, or you admit that there are real problems, but it’s not the president’s fault. In the latter case, a natural follow-up is, whose fault is it then?

I’m glad you asked.

According to the most ardent of right-wingers, Trump is not a blithering, easily confused gasbag who is in way over his head (I can see why you might think that).

No, all of his self-inflicted wounds are actually the mechanizations of the fabled “deep state.”

 

For your edification, the deep state is “a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies or the military, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy.”

This belief in a secret government means that “with varying degrees of credibility and credulity, conservatives have fed stories that Mr. Trump is the victim of sabotage by an adversarial intelligence community full of Trojan horse holdovers from the Obama administration.”

You see, it’s not that the Republicans have horrific ideas and terrible execution, it’s that the deep state — often with a sinister liberal agenda — is thwarting them.

But there are a couple of problems with this hypothesis.

First, despite acres of exposés and essays and think-pieces about the deep state, no one seems able to pinpoint exactly who is in charge of it — or even who the exact members of this cabal are.

Second, if the deep state is so damn efficient — and again, is also determined to crush conservative ideas — then why couldn’t it have, I don’t know, fixed the fucking election in the first damn place?

For that matter, how is that shadowy liberals are able to trip up Trump, without leaving any fingerprints, and yet they can’t implement any truly progressive ideas on a nationwide level?

I mean, if you can frame the president for false crimes and get away with it, it should be a snap to, say, repeal oppressive voter-registration laws, or keep public education intact. For that matter, whatever happened to that liberal-socialist conspiracy to steal everyone’s guns? When is the deep state going to get going on that one?

The truth is that liberals are mocked as wimps, as powerless, as perennial losers at the ballot box — right up until conservatives start fucking up. Then all of a sudden, progressives have this vast reservoir of influence and secret strength, which they dish out wildly against overwhelmed, heroic conservatives.

In this scenario, the Republican Party is not an uneasy alliance of corporate apologists, religious nuts, xenophobes, and crazies, who can’t agree on anything other than their hatred of liberals. No, it is a virtuous organization of (overwhelmingly) men who are too good and decent and pure to be a match for those backstabbing, cheating, and unbelievably powerful progressives.

Sounds reasonable to me…

 


An Irrational Rationale

I don’t care how smart you are (or think you are). You no doubt commit logical fallacies with disturbing regularity.

You see, the human brain — despite its astonishing capabilities and amazing structure — is prone to weird glitches like extinction bursts and black-and-white thinking and confirmation bias and myriad other quirks that prevent any of us from being Vulcans.

 

Among the strongest of these is good old-fashioned denial. You no doubt are well acquainted with this one.

For example, we routinely convince ourselves that our pants are too snug because we just washed them, and not because we’ve doubled down on the breakfast burritos. Or we’re positive that the hot waiter/waitress is checking us out. Or we just know that millions of people read our blog posts (ahem…).

On a political level, both liberals and conservatives are indulging in heavy denial, which is clearly a self-defense mechanism brought on by the horrors of the Trump Administration.

For liberals, this takes the form of hyperbolic articles predicting that Trump is going to be impeached — any day now… any hour now… the hell with it, any minute now. Just you watch!

Now while it is possible that this buffoon will finally commit so many nefarious offenses that he will get his ass fired, it is highly unlikely. House Republicans have made it clear that they will support this toxic narcissist no matter what, and as we all know, articles of impeachment have to start with the House — currently under Republican control. Short of a smoking gun regarding Russian collusion, impeachment is not going to happen.

Personally, I find it more likely that Trump will quit in frustration than get removed from office. But I’m realistic enough to admit that this is also improbable, and we are most likely stuck with this malignant clown for 45 more months.

Liberal denial gets even deeper when we look at the Not My President movement. Of course, progressives don’t mean this literally. They are well aware that Trump is officially president… well, most of them anyway.

But saying Trump is not my president is more than just a protest. It is a soothing comfort, a reminder that I didn’t vote for him and neither did my progressive friends. And it means that the man is, you know, not legitimate (whatever that means), and that America doesn’t have millions of racists, and that the way I choose to view the country is more somehow more honest than the unpleasant truth that we don’t get to have individual presidents and that we are subject to the whims of uneducated, hate-filled people who live in electorally relevant states. Nope, he’s not my president (la, la, la, la…)

However, for the most powerful, awe-inspiring display of denial on a national political level, it is difficult to top our old friends known as moderate Republicans.

Ever since Trump announced his candidacy, old-school and sane Republicans have been shouting that Trump is not really a conservative. They point to his shifting opinions and absence of core principles and the fact that he once hung out with the Clintons.

Before the election, they said Trump was a stooge whom Democrats had planted to create havoc in the primaries, and that Obama had forced conservatives to vote for a xenophobic lunatic (the poor Republicans had no choice!). And authentic members of the GOP proudly declared that they were members of #NeverTrump.

Of course, most of those NeverTrumpers have now meekly admitted that their definition of “never” is actually “a few months,” as they sheepishly fall into line behind their mighty leader. The GOP has thrown away whatever principles it had, even supporting ideas they once opposed, in the interest of party unity. And Trump is pursuing an aggressively right-wing agenda that appeals to the GOP base and the most reactionary members of Congress.

None of this screams, “secret Democrat.” Plus, there is the fact that — and here I will try to be delicate — he is the fucking standard bearer of the Republican Party and its most high-profile member.

So spare us the No True Scotsman fallacy. Trump is every bit a real Republican. In fact, he is exactly what the GOP wanted, 100 percent their creation, and fully their responsibility.

No amount of denial can change that.

 


In Accordance with Prophecy

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about self-loathing progressives. Yeah, I’ve really been letting them have it, to the point that one begins to wonder if I’ve turned on my fellow liberals and become, well, self-loathing about it…

Damn, this is not the kind of irony that I appreciate.

So please allow me to re-aim my cannons at the true villains of American politics: the hardcore right-wingers.

This xenophobic herd of nutjobs has basically taken over the modern Republican Party. And one reason they have been so successful is because of simple human frailty.

I’m talking about self-fulfilling prophecies. As we all know, this is “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.”

There are various subsets and versions of self-fulfilling prophecies. But the one that interests me is how stereotypes mingle with this psychological condition to create some rather unpleasant behaviors.

You see, “psychologists have theorized that stereotypes can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, that people internalize stereotype messages, living up — or down — to those expectations.”

We see this with ethnic minority teens who are treated like criminals, when they’ve done nothing wrong. Eventually, a few of them think, “If you’re gonna treat me like a thug, I’m gonna be one.”

Along those lines, we are not supposed to point out that some Trump voters have displayed bigoted behavior, because that just backfires and increases the odds that they will fully embrace racism (yeah, it’s a conundrum).

In essence, whether you call someone a racist or a rapist, enough repetition of the accusation ensures that they will become exactly that.

So how does this bizarre human quirk relate to politics?

Well, as I’ve pointed out, way too many liberals are indeed acting like the angsty wimps that conservatives insist they are.

And I have to admit that a few of my liberal friends openly despise the American flag — and not because of some principled stand against the nation’s flaws or its problematic history. They hate the flag because conservatives have called them America haters for so long that they’ve internalized the label.

But now we’re seeing the reverse.

Conservatives have been called, among other things, racist and misogynist sociopaths who delight in stomping on the poor and wrecking the environment, just for kicks.

And how have Republicans responded to these inflammatory charges?

They have given America a president who draws cheers from Nazis, boasts of his sexual assaults of women, and shows complete disdain for anyone who is not a millionaire.

Well, if that is not embracing a self-fulfilling prophecy, I don’t know what is.

Yes, many commentators are asking why “today’s conservatives feel such antipathy, disregard and hostility toward the poor.”

It’s also fair to ask why the GOP is celebrating old men who openly parade their racism. Or we could ask why blatant sexism within the Republican Party is lauded rather than condemned.

What’s next?

Will Republicans attempt to destroy the environment for no discernable reason?

Will they rush to defend any white men accused of vile behavior, just because liberals have said they are a bunch of sexist, xenophobic bullies with authoritarian tendencies?

How could it get worse? Will the GOP double up and exhibit disdain for both the poor and the elderly at the same time?

Or perhaps they could devastate the environment while simultaneously hurting children?

No, all we needed to see was the GOP health plan, which primarily failed because it wasn’t vicious enough to the needy.

If it keeps going this way, we may have to replace the traditional symbol of the Republican Party, the elephant, with something more appropriate, like this:

 

Maybe it’s all just a cry for help.

 


Rave Reviews

So two months into America’s slow-motion collapse, it’s time to ask, what do Latino leaders think of our sociopathic, incompetent lunatic of a president?

Well, 403 Hispanic opinion leaders recently took part in what the National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP) calls, “the closest thing to an ongoing survey of national Latino leadership in existence today.”

Now, the NILP takes the rather odd position of breaking down survey results by Latino subsets (e.g., Puerto Rican, Mexican, Other Latino), so overall numbers are difficult to ascertain.

Still, the range of responses is pretty consistent across demographics. For example, the percentage of Hispanic leaders who think Trump will create “the wrong kind of change” in America ranges from 84% to 93%. That’s a pretty tight grouping.

So we can safely say that, for example, Latino leaders believe Trump is a menace on immigration, because anywhere from 93% to 98% of them think that.

As you can imagine, the survey’s results are fairly grim for the Orange Menace. We see that 93% to 99% of Latino leaders believe that Trump will divide the nation. And it’s clear that Trump’s Muslim travel ban isn’t exactly popular with Hispanic leaders, in that 87% to 96% of them disapprove of it.

So is there any good news for Trump in this survey?

Well, this is as close as it gets to positivity for the president:

Latino leaders are divided over whether Trump should be impeached for his business conflicts of interest, or for his shady dealings with Russia — with some even saying he should be impeached for his refusal to disclose his tax returns.

That’s right. Latino leaders aren’t split over whether Trump should be removed from office. About 65% to 73% of them want that.

The only bickering is over the precise way to do it.

For Trump, this constitutes a victory lap.


You Made Me Do This

Recently, I badmouthed those liberal celebrities who blame themselves for the rise of Donald Trump. Of course, our titans of the entertainment industry have bigger problems to face, like opening the correct envelope, so I’ll leave them alone.

Instead, I’m going to focus on progressives in general — be they famous, infamous or completely unknown — by pointing out a disturbing trend that has emerged since November. This is the tendency of leftists to absolve conservatives of all responsibility for Trump’s election. Even weirder, my fellow progressives are saying it is our entire fault that America has a cackling xenophobe in the White House.

Indeed, many good leftists are bowing their heads and admitting that it is the most malignant of monsters — political correctness — that explains, “more than anything, how the left created Trump.”

Progressives are shouting that the left abandoned the white working class, and that liberal elitism pushed rural voters away, and that liberals became bullies and gave conservatives no choice (no choice at all!) but to embrace Trump.

All this strikes some other liberals as whiny and self-indulgent. But I disagree.

I believe that it is the political equivalent of spousal abuse.

 

It’s clear that some liberals have been punched, degraded, and insulted by conservatives for so long that many progressives now accept the horrible image that right-wingers have created for them.

Just like in cases of spousal abuse, liberals are justifying the repulsive behavior of many conservatives, releasing them from blame, admitting the ill treatment is deserved, and then lining up for more.

Let me be clear. I am not making light of the issue of domestic violence. Some of my friends and family have suffered through this agony, so I don’t employ this metaphor lightly.

But it is eerie how so many progressives, no matter how much they are slurred and ridiculed, turn around and say that we had Trump coming, just be virtue of being liberal.

Remember, right-wingers never blamed themselves for Obama. Hell, they shrieked that liberals were idiots who had destroyed America by voting for a Kenyan socialist who was going to take away all their guns. Obama’s election only increased conservatives’ disdain for progressives, and it lead to zero self-loathing or reflection on the part of conservatives.

So why are liberals prone to accepting blame for the actions of conservatives, even clamoring for it at times?

Well, there are many reasons for this.

First, liberals tend to be nicey-nicey and avoid hurting anyone’s feelings (that conservative chestnut has a grain of truth to it). And in this case, progressives don’t want to get all mean and point out that many Trump supporters are straight-up misogynists and racists.

So progressives imply that Trump supporters are merely misunderstood, and that if we just charm red-state America enough, these people will forget all about their hatred of gay marriage and fear of Latinos.

It’s just that easy. Yup.

Of course, we would have to ignore statistics like this one: “A whopping 39 percent of Trump voters believe that women who get abortions should face legal punishment, an opinion that is otherwise so unpopular that even the anti-choice movement disavows it.”

But of course, they can’t be criticized for that loathsome viewpoint. It’s all the liberals’ fault.

Far too many leftists are saying we must reach out and plead with Trump supporters, who in turn don’t have to change at all. It is the progressives who must alter their worldview. This is despite the fact that Trump lost the popular vote (overwhelmingly) and has one of the worst approval ratings for a president this early in his administration. No, let us — the progressives — drop all our principles and try to understand the fury of a small group of conservatives, even as they deride us as dim-witted, latte-sipping wimps.

This brings up another point, which is that liberals are insulted routinely, and yet, we have not used this as a pathetic excuse to “blow up the system” or whatever euphemism the right wing is using to endanger democracy.

“But wait,” the bruised and battered liberal says. “We made them hate us, because Hollywood skewers them mercilessly in popular culture.”

Hey, here’s an interesting statistic for you. Latinos are the most underrepresented group in popular culture, and when we are shown, it is usually in stereotypical or highly negative ways.

No, the white working class has no idea what it’s like to be mocked.

But let’s accept the argument that the entertainment industry — and by bizarre extension, all of liberal culture — has been vicious to conservatives. Well, liberals don’t say, “suck it up, snowflake,” because that would be, you know, not nice.

Instead, the self-loathing liberal says that this is perfectly reasonable grounds for embracing demagoguery.

Think about that.

We’re basically saying it’s ok to get annoyed that, for example, many black people prefer the term “African American.” And not just peeved, as when one rolls his eyes, dismisses something as silly, and then goes about his business.

No, we agree that the logical reaction is to fly into an eye-popping rage and vote for a narcissistic nutjob. How in the world does A follow B? Why is becoming furious at the idea of women getting equal pay somehow acceptable, and even more so, a solid rationale for voting for an unqualified man-child who is cozy with dictators?

But progressives ignore these reddest of red flags, and they simply say, “Hey, right-wingers, we apologize for asking you not to slur Asians and refrain from throwing shit at mosques. We don’t know what we were thinking.”

Again, this is the political equivalent of saying, “I’m sorry I made you so angry that you punched me in the face. I’ll go get your beer now.”

As a final example of this twisted tendency, look at how many liberals are falling over themselves to proclaim Trump “presidential” now that he has successfully delivered one insult-free, semi-coherent speech. This most meager of accomplishments has convinced many progressives that Trump is a changed man, and will do the right thing, and will be the president for all of us.

And he bought me flowers and didn’t hit me on my birthday and he’s a changed man it’s different now don’t you see he really loves me and it will be better now and…

And…

And…

 

 


Choose Your Dystopia

Within the landslide of inanity, insanity, and alternative facts that has gushed from the Trump administration thus far, one true statement has miraculously emerged.

This was when the Minister of Misinformation said that Trump would renege on his campaign promise to release his tax returns because “people don’t care.”

And she is correct. Most Americans don’t give a damn about Trump’s taxes, nor do they care that he is breaking his word. Hey, most Trumpkins don’t even see it as the tiniest bit problematic that the president has myriad conflicts of interest and doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution and that pesky Emoluments Clause.

So it’s clear that Americans are just fine with the executive brand functioning as a get-rich-quick scheme for a select few. Hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if shilling for the Trump brand becomes an overt job duty for administration officials… wait, what? Oh, that has already happened.

This is plutocracy, where the ruling class derives its power from its wealth, with no regard for what’s best for the nation.

But wait a second. I thought we were heading into neo-fascism. That’s where a horde of grotesque political movements — ultranationalism, populism, anti-immigration sentiments, nativism, xenophobia, and so on — coalesce into a situation where an unpredictable strong man runs roughshod over liberal democracy. Good thing, then, that Trump has nothing but respect for our system of checks and balances, such as his adoration for our judicial system… yup. So maybe this is a more accurate indicator of our national predicament.

Now, you might ask, “But what about all this Orwellian nightmare stuff I keep hearing about? Isn’t that what’s going on now?”

 

Well, it’s true that Trump and his flunkies have mastered doublespeak. For example, they can claim massive voter fraud (despite a complete lack of evidence), while simultaneously insisting Russian hacking is a myth (despite an overwhelming amount of evidence). Hell, they can insist the sun was shining when we know it was raining.

By the way, the president insists that “he has ‘solved’ Latinos’ fears of being under attack by his administration.” That, my friends, is impressive 1984 jamming.

Of course, it’s also possible that we are also living in an autocracy, which is a system of government where one person rules with absolute power.

As some commentators have pointed out, “Trump will try hard during his presidency to create an atmosphere of personal munificence, in which graft does not matter, because rules and institutions do not matter.” And this approach “will create personal constituencies, and implicate other people in his corruption. That, over time, is what truly subverts the institutions of democracy and the rule of law.”

More bluntly, America has handed “power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a cult of personality around himself,” and that “everything we know suggests that we’re entering an era of epic corruption and contempt for the rule of law, with no restraint whatsoever.”

OK, that’s pretty grim. So let’s try another direction. Maybe all this is just America’s flirtation with kakocracy. You know, that’s rule by the absolute worst.

If so, it will not end well. Many commentators believe that with this group of reckless clowns, impeachment or removal of the president under the 25th Amendment are real possibilities. But even if that happens, Trump “will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books.”

And even some conservatives are saying that Trump’s presidency “will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars.”

At that point, we will enter a whole new dystopia — maybe one that doesn’t even have a name yet.


So Far, So Horrific

We are now approximately 1% of the way through the Trump presidency. That means, mathematically, it will only get 100 times worse.

To be fair, things are actually going great… for white nationalists and people who think immigrants are plotting to kill them in their sleep.

For the rest of us, not so much.

You see, the start of the Trump era is, by many accounts, “the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.”

 

The rate of Trump’s grotesque actions outpaces our ability to react to them. Are we really supposed to call our congressional representatives and organize protest marches and boycott companies and sign petitions every single day?

Hell, we barely have time to unboggle our eyes and force our slackened jaws shut before another monstrous executive order comes washing over the American landscape. The best we can manage most days is to force down our vomit.

But here’s one thought that will keep us focused. One inescapable truism that we should keep in mind at all times.

And it is simply this: Trump means everything he says.

All the talk about whether we should take him literally but not seriously, or vice versa, was overcomplicated nonsense from the start. It should have been apparent long ago that when a wannabe dictator says he’s going to do something, he fully intends to do it.

Trump is not capable of metaphor. I doubt the man even knows that word means. I’m serious — the guy boasts about never reading books.

You see, our tiny-fingered, small-minded president does not engage in subtlety, and the only time that he backs off on some of his more egregious pronouncements is when he no longer has any interest in them and/or because they no longer serve a purpose (e.g., prosecuting Hillary Clinton).

Otherwise, he is remarkably consistent.

This does not mean that he will succeed in his endeavors. For example, that fabled wall with Mexico is never going to be built. But this is only because reality will intrude. This barrier might take the form of logistical issues or— it’s possible — political resistance.

But he will not stop of his own free will. He will not moderate his views. He will not listen to reason or decency.

I have never understood why any sane person would think otherwise.

For example, some conservative Latinos voted for Trump under the bizarre assumption that he would be more respectful to Hispanics or even compromise on immigration. That idea doesn’t look so bright now.

Of course, that’s not as bizarre as Middle Eastern immigrants who just assumed his talk of banning them was, I don’t know, some oddball banter from a kooky billionaire.

Heed their regret. And please remember this for the next four years. He means everything that he says.

That makes it even scarier, doesn’t it?

 


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