Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception.
The day after the Presidential election in November left me reeling. The decision to elect Donald Trump was incomprehensible because of his deep flaws and utter lack of preparation and qualification for the office of President. Since he has taken office, none of Trump’s actions have provided any relief from these concerns. Whether I’ve looked at his executive orders, appointments, policy directions, public statements, conduct or behavior, the conclusion is the same, Trump is unfit to be President. He is corrupt, crude, uneducated, prone to fits of anger, engages in widespread nepotism, and acts utterly un-Presidential. He has nothing to mitigate any of the concerns I felt that fateful Wednesday when it was clear that he had been elected President. At the same time virtually all of his supporters have been unwavering in support for him. The Republican Party seems impervious to the evidence before them about vast array of problems Trump represents, supporting him, if not enabling his manifest dysfunctions.
Over the past month and especially the last week my views of what Trump means have shifted. If anything my conclusions about the meaning of his reign in the White House are worse than before. Mr. Trump was elected President due to the actions of the Russian Federation and their unprecedented hacking activities and seeding of false narratives into the public conscience. The Russians deeply favored Trump in the election for two clear reasons, their dislike and fear of Clinton and the congruence of Trump’s tendencies with Putin’s in terms of basic philosophy. In addition, Trump’s manifest incompetence would weaken the United States’ role internationally. We have effectively lost the role as leaders of the Free World, and ironically put Germany in that role. Trump’s erratic actions and lack of Presidential skills, knowledge and behavior makes the United States weak, and unable to stand up against a resurgent Russia. The whole thing is actually worse than all of this because Trump represents a new direction for the United States. He represents a new commitment to authoritarian rule, diminishment of freedom, plutocracy, kleptocracy and erratic jingoism.
This gets to the core of what I’ve realized about the meaning of Trump. The reason the Republicans are not disturbed by the Russian influence on the election or the President is their Sympatico with the Russians. The ruling philosophy of Trump and Republicans is the same as the Russians. They use traditional religious and Nationalist values to build support among the populace while ruling to slant the entire government toward two roles, putting money in the hands of the wealthy and authoritarian policies to control the populace. Both scapegoat lots of minorities and fringe groups with bigoted and even violent responses. Neither the Republicans or the Russians are interested in Democratic principles and act steadfastly to undermine voting rights at every turn. The Party and its leader in turn driving a strong support among the common man are defending the core traditional National identity. This gives both Putin and Trump their political base from which they can deliver benefits to the wealthy ruling class while giving the common man red meat in oppression of minorities and non-traditional people. All of this is packaged up with a strongly authoritarian leadership with lots of extra law enforcement and military focus. Both Putin and Trump will promote defending the Homeland from the enemies external and internal. Terrorism provides a handy and evil external threat to further drive the Nationalist tendencies.
Here is the difference between Trump and Putin. Putin is a mastermind and a truly competent leader whose main interests are power for himself and Russian by proxy. Trump is an imbecilic and utterly incompetent whose interests are personal greed and power. He cares nothing for the Country or its people. Whether he is a witting or unwitting pawn of Putin doesn’t matter at some level. He is Putin’s pawn and his rule is a direct threat to our Nation’s future and place in the World. The situation we find ourselves in is far graver simply having an idiotic narcissist as President; we have a President who is undermining or Nation through both direct and indirect actions. We have a ruling political party that acts to enable this and making a foreign power more effective in the process.
The combination of the Republican Party and its leader in the President are fundamentally reshaping the United States in a corrupt and incompetent mirror to Putin’s Russia. Only time will tell how far this will go or what the long-term consequences will be. The end result will be a United States that loses its position as the sole superpower in the World. The only ones benefiting from this change are Russia and the cadre of wealthy people served by both regimes. The rest of us will suffer.
Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.