Congratulations, you’ve read Part the First and Second you’re in the final lap! If I were to offer any excuses for the length of this tirade, it would be that the last four years have been a horror show and this is my catharsis. I recommend everyone do it, frankly! In any case, here’s the last of it:
After his first disastrous year, Trump continued to give living meaning to the term “dumpster fire.” Like a train wreck, you were appalled but what you saw, yet you couldn’t look away! As if that weren’t bad enough, the smell was so disgusting you wanted to vomit repeatedly. Somehow, you just hoped it would burn itself out.
Now, three additional painfully-long years later, we are almost there! But there’s still plenty of time to do the stupid, ugly, immature, petulant, crazy and unhinged thing! Plus, I haven’t even covered the worst of his crimes, failures, abuses, and generally-deplorable acts. Here goes!
Worst President Ever!
Among his many crimes against decency, rationalism and dignity, you also have Trump’s time on the world stage. At the 2017 NATO Summit in Brussels, he pushed the PM of Montenegro out of the way for a photo op, criticized NATO members for not paying enough, extolled the virtues of nationalism, met with Putin in private to come up with an excuse for the Trump Tower meeting, and publicly accepted Putin’s denials of election meddling.
To the whole world, Trump’s behavior towards US allies and its greatest rival told the whole story, as did the images of the two men sitting next to each other – Putin smiling smugly and Trump looking nervous and sheepish. Putin saw Trump as a “useful idiot” whom he helped into power to cultivate Russia’s interests, and Trump was happy to oblige him because he thought they were friends.
They met again in 2018 NATO Summit in Helsinki behind closed doors and Trump demanded that the notes from that meeting be destroyed. At the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires that same year, Trump was forced to sit alone as other world leaders conversed around him and wandered off-stage during a photo shoot with Argentine president Mauricio Macri.
At these and other summits, Trump was mocked behind his back, forced to sit alone as other world leaders conversed around him, and became the first president in history to be laughed at during a speech before the UN. At the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka, Trump blasted Japan for not paying the US enough, met with Putin again, and was embarrassed by his daughter Ivanka as she tried force her way into a conversations and was ignored.
During his time abroad, Trump also distinguished himself for being the first president to snub America’s fallen soldiers. While in France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of First World War, in 2018, he cancelled the visit to the American cemetery at Belleau (where the Marines who died in the Battle of Belleau Wood are buried) because “it was filled with losers” and “suckers.”
In addition to Putin, Trump also distinguished himself for his willingness to coddle Kim Jong-un. After a brief and short-lived Twitter war that almost led to a confrontation, Kim decided to open the door to disarmament talks with South Korea and the US. Trump met with him and was instantly taken in by Kim’s false charms and left convinced Kim had agreed to disarm.
Not only did Kim not agree to anything, but North Korea resumed its nuclear weapons program and missile tests shortly thereafter (yet Trump insisted he “kept his word”). When news broke that Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek (whom he had executed in 2013), was a CIA asset, Trump tweeted what was effectively an apology to Kim, saying “I would tell him that would not happen under my auspice that’s for sure.”
Once again, Trump sided with a foreign hostile dictator against this own country’s intelligence services. He even begged Kim to come back to the table when he tweeted that Biden was a dog who needed to be beaten to death: “I am the only one who can get you where you have to be. You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon!”
A similar thing happened with Erdogan, Turkey’s crypto-fascist president. It started when Trump was talked into ceding territory in northern Syria to Turkish military occupation, which would allow them to wipe out the Kurdish rebels in the region (who were essential to battling ISIS). Trump then wrote a letter to Erdogan begging him to “make a better deal,” which Erdogen then shared with the world in mockery of Trump.
This was in the course of Trump declaring the withdrawal of US from Syria, a decision which effectively handed the country over to Assad’s regime, Russia, and Turkey. It meant abandoning the US’ Kurdish allies, which Trump justified by saying that they “didn’t help us with D-Day.” It also allowed for ISIS to experience something of a renaissance after nearly being totally defeated.
Back home, things weren’t going any better for Trump. With the firing of James Comey and Trump admitting on air that it was because of the “Russia thing,” deputy AG Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the run-up to the 2016 election.
In less than two years, the investigation documented all of the contacts and coordination between the Trump campaign team and Russian agents, accounted for 10 separate acts of obstruction of justice (one of which was Trump’s attempts to have Mueller fired), and resulted in 34 individuals and three companies being indicted for felonies – 5 of which were Trump associates and campaign officials.
However, because of Dept. of Justice policy which states that a sitting President cannot be indicted for a crime, Mueller was restricted from issuing (or even recommending) an indictment against Trump. All he could do was provide the evidence and leave it in the hands of Congress, which had the power to impeach. However, between a GOP-led Senate and newly-appointed AG Bill Barr, Trump escaped justice.
Not only did Barr misrepresent the findings of the report in his “executive summary,” McConnell and Republicans mobilized to claim Trump had been let off the hook (if not exonerated) so “case closed.” Again, to every thinking person, it was obvious this way a lie. The reason Barr had been appointed as AG was because of his opposition to the investigation, which he made clear before he was appointed.
Mueller also vocalized his opposition to Barr’s summary and the perception that the report somehow proved “no collusion/no obstruction.” In fact, he spelled it out in the report itself and reiterated as much during two separate testimonies before Congress. As he put it, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
He also indicated that according to the Constitution, any crimes by potential a president must be addressed by a “process other than the criminal justice system,” hinting at the possibility of impeachment. He further stressed that
the central conclusion of his investigation was “that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.” Does that sound like “exoneration” to you?
But it wasn’t over and Trump would once again collude to interfere in a US election. In addition to McConnell and Congressional Republicans blocking three separate bills meant to tighten election security, Trump began soliciting foreign governments for dirt on Joe Biden. Having won the Democratic primaries, Trump was now looking to repeat what he’d done during the 2016 election.
The worst instance was where he curtailed aide to the Ukraine until they did him “a favor” by announcing an investigation into the false claims they were spreading about Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Once again, thanks to a completely complicit GOP-led Congress – which stooped as low as to say “abuse of power isn’t a crime,” and “it’s not a crime if he thought he was doing right by the country,” – Trump got away it.
Last, there was the absolute disaster that was Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 epidemic. So much has been said about that, so I’ll just give it a brief pass. In 2019, Trump was warned repeatedly about the threat of COVID-19 and the potential of a pandemic. We know from the recordings provided by Robert Woodward that Trump considered it “deadly stuff”, “worse than the flu,” but that he “played it down” on purpose.
All the while, Trump continued to claim that there was no threat, that it was “nothing,” that they had it “contained,” and that it would “magically go away.” His firm leadership also included appointing his son-in-law to hoard supplies, withholding aid to Blue states unless they flattered him enough, holding rallies in the midst of it, undermining Dr. Fauci publicly, and speculating that bleach and UV light could cure it, if only these could be “injected” or “taken internally.”
As of the writing of this article, over 250,000+ Americans have died due to COVID, for which Trump said he takes “zero responsibility.” Instead, as the pandemic continues to get worse, he’s demanding that the nation “re-open,” has neglected financial assistance (to the point that people are risking their lives to go back to work), and is most angered by the fact that people are criticizing him.
If the last four years hadn’t convinced everyone that he’s a pathological narcissist, Trump has once again proven that the world could be on fire and his only thought would be “how does this affect me?” Much like his handling of Puerto Rico after it was devastated by hurricanes and “Sharpiegate,” Trump only cares about not looking stupid or incompetent while people die!
Yet somehow, he’s still at it. The 2020 election has come and gone and Trump still refuses to concede defeat or even admit it (except accidentally). Republicans in Congress continue to enable him and push his alternative version of reality, and his supporters continue to march in his name and demonstrate their willingness to kill for him.
So… What Now?
Seriously, how the hell did it all comes to this? And what are we to expect, moving forward? Well, if I were to review all of what I’ve written here without anger or incredulity, I would say that it the past years represent the culmination of the following:
- The concentration of media ownership into fewer and fewer hands
- Decades of conditioning by conservative media
- Demonization of mainstream media and opposing views
- The growth of internet counter-knowledge and misinformation
- The mainstreaming of fringe politics and racist movements
In this respect, I am reminded of the psychological evaluations that were conducted by Major Douglas Kelley and Gustave Gilbert during the Nuremberg Trials. Primarily, their job was to determine if the chief architects of the Holocaust and a war that left 70 million people dead on three continents were fit to stand trial.
At the same time, however, both men sought to address the burning questions that were on everyone’s mind. How could Germany, the most developed and advanced nation in the world during the 1930s, have committed such barbaric atrocities? How could seemingly normal human beings have murdered so ruthlessly and mechanistically?
From their evaluations, certain conclusions and generalizations could be drawn. Overall, three major contributors could be identified:
- Culture: During the 1930s, Germany was a nation where people were instructed from childhood to obey their parents, teachers, leaders, and authority figures. So when a man like Hitler becomes Chancellor, he is standing at the head of a nation of 50 million people who think it’s perfectly natural to do whatever he says.
- Propaganda: Since the Middle Ages, Germans had been taught that Jews and other populations (Slavs in particular) were neither true Germans and beneath them. So when the government starts claiming that they represent a mortal threat and that it’s necessary to eliminate them “for the good of the nation,” people would not be inclined to object.
- However, these seemed hardly sufficient to explain the inhumanity of these crimes. The only thread that truly connected these men charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to Kelley and Gilbert was a lack of empathy. In the end, it was only people who were capable of not seeing their fellow human beings as human beings that were capable of committing the atrocities.
This was why, when the Nazi leadership met to discuss the “Final Solution To The Jewish Question” in 1942, it was decided that the task of exterminating the Jews and other people designated as “untermench” (sub-humans) would be given to the SS and the commandants of the concentration camps. Average soldiers and Generals (such as Erwin Rommel) could not be trusted to always follow extermination orders.
But men who had been sufficiently brainwashed and demonstrated a capacity for brutality and remorseless killing certainly could! The similarities are frightening and they remind us, yet again, that the same force behind Nazis can succeed in America.
Sinclair Lewis said as much in his famous novel It Can’t Happen Here, which has experienced a resurgence in popularity in the last few years (I wonder why!) Dr. Kelley himself warned that similar tendencies could take root in America and was concerned it was already happening in the post-war era.
As Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” He was certainly correct. But another thing evil needs is people who are willing to say “it’s not happening to me, so it’s not a problem.”
For the pro-Trump crowd, the fact that children were dying in cages, hate crimes had increased, Neo-Nazis were marching in the streets, police were shooting people of color, dictators were murdering freely, and people were being left to die from war, hurricanes, or a pandemic due to Trump’s extreme incompetence didn’t matter because… it wasn’t them! Hell, it wasn’t even happening because, “fake news!”
Godwin Strikes Again
Yes, I know that this is a perfect example of Godwin’s Law, and I know from personal experience that Trump supporters loathe being compared to Nazis. To that, I am tempted to say, “who the hell cares?” Or perhaps I ought to use the famous line that keeps popping up at Trump rallies on MAGA merchandise: “Fuck your feelings!”
Instead, I think I will explain this one last time to the MAGA crowd:
“Whether or not you think of yourself a racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, intolerant pig, you supported a man who is!”
That’s right, all you “very fine people” who aren’t Nazis witnessed everything the rest of us did. You saw, heard, and experienced every disgusting, racist, abusive, and corrupt utterance and deed. And what did you have to say? Nothing? Or did you just deflect onto any number of made-up, totally BS prepared talking points? Yes, we’re all familiar with them by now:
- “What about Uranium One?”
- “What about Benghazi?”
- “What about paying Iran?”
- “What about Hunter Biden?”
- “What about her emails?”
- “What about Tara Reade?”
- “What about ‘predators’?”
- “What about ‘you aint black’?”
Here’s the thing about all of these points. They are either lies, half-truths, or complete misrepresentations. Even if every one of them were as bad as you’ve been led to believe, the fact that you seem to have a problem with them and not Trump’s litany of far greater and unambiguous sins only exposes your own extreme hypocrisy.
But it’s not about believing what you say or the facts, is it? It’s about defending your decision to support the man. In that, you are just like the man you supported. You condoned all the horrible things he did, up to and including treason and letting 250,000+ Americans die from a pandemic that knowingly lied about! But in the end, all you care about is how you’re treated, isn’t it?
You want to be able to do and say whatever you want, and never be held accountable for it, right? And when things blow up in your face, it’s somehow everybody else’s fault for judging you unfairly. Wow! The list of things you and Trump have in common is astounding!
But I digress, this is not about what Trump supporters were willing to tolerate or the depths they sunk to just to avoid admitting they made a terrible mistake. This is not even about revisiting Trump’s and their litany of sins anymore. It’s about where we go from here. Forgiveness needs to happen, yes, even if it’s not entirely deserved. There’s no way a country can function when people are so bitterly divided.
Granted, that can only happen once the “very fine” who condoned Trump for the past four years make a break from their “alt-right” brethren and take responsibility for their own actions. Until then, the lessons cannot be learned and history is likely to repeat itself. It’s also not fair for the left-of center crowd to once again say “we tend to move forward” and sweep it all under the rug, which is what happened in 2008 (look how that turned out!)
Sooner or later, the current divide needs to be sealed and Americans need to stop viewing each other as mortal enemies. It’s political theater, it’s as pointless as it is stupid, and the only people who benefit are viscous, horrible, lying scumbags (aka. politicians!) The only alternative is that the Red States and the Blue States secede from each other and form their own countries.
But of course, Americans already tried that, and look how that turned out!
That’s all I’ve been wanting to say now for the past four years and I’m thrilled we’re now at the point where I can say it. In the meantime, to people in the US, here in Canada, and around the world, stay healthy, stay safe, and stay positive. Now I’d like to sign off with one word that I mean in every sense humanly possible: PEACE!
2 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on the 2020 Election and the Future – Part the Last”
Well said Matt. It’s great to read such a well written piece that helps me to keep grounded in the real world and not the Trumpism fantasy world.
It is a challenge, isn’t it? What can you do when government officials wage a ceaseless war against reality and 40% of the country helps them?