Lately, I have found myself growing a bit weary of writing about the Trump administration, and made a point of taking a break from it, at least for a little while.
Then yesterday, for an April Fool's joke, I went ahead and wrote a facetious piece expressing my sudden change of heart, suggesting that he now had my support.
Today, it's back to reality.
So, I turn back to someone who I recently wrote about Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University. He finds absolutely nothing amusing about Trump's buffoonery, and is trying to sound the alarm to anyone who will listen that all of what we are seeing right now is not simply the workings of an inexperienced new administration bumbling out of the starting gate.
Snyder sees something far more sinister about Trump and his cronies, and fittingly, it reminds him quite a bit of the subject matter that he actually specializes in. You might not be all that surprised to find out that it reminds him of the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1920's and especially the 1930's, by which point, the war to come had perhaps become inevitable.
He points out how Hitler was not initially taken seriously, either, and how many of his early financial supporters assumed that they would be able to control the man, only to find out, once Hitler had actually taken power, that the tables had turned on them, and that he was in fact in ultimately control. Snyder fears that this scenario might be playing out again, only this time, there are differences. This time, the country is the United States, and the time is right now. Despite the country being a democracy, there appears to be clear signs of an erosion of democratic traditions, and the rise of Trump to the presidency, warns Snyder, might the bell tolling midnight on American democracy, at least if we are not careful.
Many have passed Trump and other n his administration as too stupid or inexperienced to really know what they are doing, which is something that many did with another unpopular president, George W. Bush. Yet, Bush served two terms, started an illegal war, allowed blatant corruption to thrive, virtually destroyed the economy, and went very far towards destroying American credibility the world over. When one examines the actions of Bush and his administration, it will be difficult not to see how successful they were at getting their way on some key issues, including starting the war in Iraq, the passage of the PATRIOT Act, his healthcare bill, increased deregulation on a broad spectrum, and getting the economic bailout that he pushed for. Still, a lot of people seemed to take joy in mocking Bush, and portraying him as stupid, and even as a village idiot from Texas who had somehow fund his way to the White House, which is not all that different from the way that many opposed to Trump view our current president. And for all of the seeming animosity just underneath the surface between the Bushes and Trump, the fact of the matter is that many of these policies that Bush pursued and was defined by are also being pursued by Trump, only he goes much further with these. Trump and his team are much more blatant about the extremity of the policies that they pursue, and despite having been largely not been taken seriously to this point, they not only reached the White House, but they have actively pursued most of the exact things that Trump promised he would pursue throughout his campaign.
What continues to astonish me is the enthusiastic support that he receives from so many people. I know quite a few who actively support Trump, and some of them have been quite critical of me. One went as far as to ask me if I was really as close-minded as I seemed in dismissing Trump. Frankly, I went ahead and told him that maybe he was right, because all I see - and all I ever saw - in Donald Trump was a phony, was a narcissist and a crook, for all intents and purposes. Someone who only knows how to rise by making others fall, who can only get to where he wants to go by stepping on other people. This man is exactly what Mitt Romney suggested he was: a con artist. He lies so incessantly, that it has become difficult to even tell if the man knows what the truth is, or if he can separate a lie from the truth. That was bad enough when he was exclusively in the private sector, but it could really get him in hot water now that his officially capacity is as the ultimate public servant.
The thing is, there are indeed things in his mannerisms that seem, quite frankly, laughable. The fact that he eats pizza with a fork and knife, or that he splashed ketchup on a premium steak prepared by a world class chef. Or how he talks at a sixth grade level, often interrupting himself with his own unimpressive thoughts. Trump talks about women merely as conquests, and boasts that his own star power has them essentially willing to serve him, giving him full access to whatever he wants from them. Trump blasts some well-respected people in a very classless, but high profile, manner, and each time that he does this, it seems that his popularity shoots up. Maybe this trend will stop if and when people get tired of it, but that is a big if. He has very simple answers for what are actually quite complex problems, and tries to cut off all debate. His ego is that of an overgrown child, completely obsessed with himself, and with everything in his world reinforcing his own greatness and prominence. Throughout his career, he has always been unashamedly obsessed with his money and with his power. Now as president, he is completely fixated on his popularity, to the point that he still seems unable to let go of how big his election victory was, even though the fact that he lost the popular vote by nearly three million eludes him. Hell, he still seems like he is campaigning for president, as he continues to hold rallies that resemble campaign stops. The fact that much of what he suggests and or promises is either illegal or impossible seems to escape him, as well.
It is a sad statement that this man has made it to the White House, and is probably even more damning of where we Americans are right now than anything else. Yet, the fact of the matter is that Trump is indeed the President of the United States, which makes him a powerful man. Add to that the fact that Republicans control both the House and Senate, and are on the verge of controlling the Supreme Court, and you indeed get a situation where Trump has potentially more power than any president before him dating back to at least Hoover, and Hoover did not have access to nuclear weapons, and did not have so much other wonderful technology that could easily be used towards devious means. Hoover also was not out for ratings as Trump appears to be, he was not trying to entertain people. He was more serious, or at least, kept a more serious and low key public profile. The sad truth is that too many Americans have become attracted to outrageous personalities, and the more outrageous the personality, the more these Americans take to them. And who out there is as outrageous as Donald Trump? The problem is that this is real, and tens of millions of Americans seem to think that this reality star actually has earned the votes, rather than swindled them from people too naive to understand what, or who, they were actually voting for.
Perhaps now it is too late, because we have his orange majesty in the Oval Office. Or, perhaps, we should do as Professor Snyder suggests, and beware! Trump might seem almost like a comical figure, and the urge not to take the man seriously can be strong. God knows it is tempting in these times to imagine that his team really do not know what they are doing, and to dismiss them, and laugh at their portrayal on SNL. But my own suspicion is that Snyder is right, and that Trump and his team know exactly what they are doing. And that makes these dangerous and unstable times indeed. That means that this is no time for dilly dallying, or allowing ourselves the luxuries of believing what we want to believe, which is that Trump is too stupid or self-absorbed to do much damage. Clearly, he already has done some damage, and is intent on doing still more. We need to heed Professor Snyder's advice, and take action to make sure that Trump and his team do not grab more power than they are entitled to, because all signs suggest that this is exactly what they are trying to do, and that the motivation behind this is not nearly so pure as naivete.
Please watch this clip below of Professor Snyder warning television personality and political activist Bill Maher about taking President Trump seriously before it is too late: