Goodness knows how many words I have written about this man. I want to think it is my last, but I’m not confident.
74,222,957 Americans voted for Donald Trump in the recent election. 46.8% of them don’t hold the President responsible for any of his mistakes. They see no wrong in his most vile acts. It is these people that have the secret to the why of it. Why are so many people dissatisfied with their lot in the land of milk and honey?
No doubt there are many factors like inequality, jobs and many others. Still, in this piece, I want to concentrate on my thoughts on Donald Trump’s Presidency and what he has done and how he has impregnated his worshipers with the same vile hatreds. In part, the why of it can be explained by what I call the “if it’s okay for them” rule.
Suppose my government or its leader demonstrates that it’s fair to act in a certain way then it is okay for me to follow suit. When America’s most privileged and powerful break the rules of accountability with impunity, the less well-off act with the same impunity, albeit the destruction of property or other violent actions.
Remember back in 2008 when:
“Wall Street nearly destroyed the economy. The Street got bailed out while millions of Americans lost their jobs, savings, and homes. Yet no major Wall Street executive ever went to jail.
In more recent years, top executives of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, along with the members of the Sackler family that own it, knew the dangers of OxyContin but did nothing. Executives at Wells Fargo Bank pushed bank employees to defraud customers. Executives at Boeing hid the results of tests showing its 737 Max Jetliner was unsafe. Police chiefs across America looked the other way as police under their command repeatedly killed innocent Black Americans.”
Nothing has been fixed. It all continues to happen, and the disenfranchised respond accordingly. If it is okay for our leaders to break the rules, then it’s okay for me to respond in kind.
Trump became President thinking that no law was too rigid for him to break thus setting an example for the entire population. He, over four years, became a threat to American democracy itself. “IF THEY CAN DO IT, WHY CAN’T WE?”
He told the people that the Presidency gave him the power to:
“… dig up dirt on political rivals, fire inspectors general who find corruption, order the entire executive branch to refuse congressional subpoenas, flood the Internet with fake information about his opponents, refuse to release his tax returns, accuse the press of being “fake media” and “enemies of the people”, and make money off his presidency.”
He was a President who lied without conscience about the election result insisting he had won when the evidence insisted Biden had. And of course, he had.
At the dawn of his exit, he has misused his Presidential pardons to the point of corrupting them. They are typically used as a pardon for possible wrong sentence, good conduct or the grace of forgiveness.
Those pardoned include:
“… aides convicted of lying to the FBI and threatening potential witnesses in order to protect him; his son-in-law’s father, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, witness tampering, illegal campaign contributions, and lying to the Federal Election Commission; Blackwater security guards convicted of murdering Iraqi civilians, including women and children; border patrol agents convicted of assaulting or shooting unarmed suspects; and Republican lawmakers and their aides found guilty of fraud, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations.”
Trump has not only deemed the crimes of those he has pardoned as unaccountable actions but also demeaned the courts that convicted them.
The problem here is societies’ willingness to accept his actions as standard, of somehow condoning actions that a mere decade ago might have condemned.
Other than saying the man was a sociopath, the why of it is not easily explained. If nobody is held accountable in a democratic society, norms collapse, and society’s very fabric decays with it.
History shows us that no former President has been convicted of ever having committed a crime. Perhaps this speaks volumes for the system. When Trump’s presidency is finally finished, and the last of his vilest words escape his tongue, he may very well face a barrage of lawsuits, but it is doubtful that he will serve time.
He will probably, almost certainly present himself with Presidential immunity or a self-pardon that will protect him.
One would think that the slightest hint of a criminal trial against the former President might see a partisan uprising across the states.
All this, of course, brings into perspective the power of future presidents. Congress might seek to make it tougher to break the rules. Trump will probably get away with all the mayhem he has created, including a new way of doing politics. Robert Reich writing for The Guardian, puts it this way:
“Congress may try to limit the power of future presidents – strengthening congressional oversight, fortifying the independence of inspectors general, demanding more financial disclosure, increasing penalties on presidential aides who break laws, restricting the pardon process, and so on.
But Congress – a co-equal branch of government under the constitution – cannot rein in rogue presidents. And the courts don’t want to weigh in on political questions.
The appalling reality is that Trump may get away with it. And in getting away with it he will have changed and degraded the norms governing American presidents. The giant windows he’s broken are invitations to a future president to break even more.”
America faces, whether they like it or not, the startling reality that Trump will get away with breaking many laws and degrading the norms of American democracy and decency.
Those who voted for Joe Biden voted for a return to normalcy whilst those who voted for Donald Trump voted for a continuance of his brand of hate-filled politics.
Democrats need to sort out the why of it if they want to return to a typical America. In the next four years, they will need to discover the answer to my question, address it and gain another term with control of both houses and set an agenda that will make America great again.
My thought for the day
If we are to save our democracy, we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should be transparent and tell the truth.
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