I have not written on my blog in recent months. I was so demoralized by the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election I just needed time to reflect. I was never enamored with Clinton, but I knew from observing him for 30 years that Trump was dangerous. I could not, and after 8 months of the Trump Administration still can’t, imagine what will become of our country if we actually have to endure 4 years of this insanity.
The Founding Fathers showed unbelievable brilliance in drafting the Constitution. They actually foresaw the possibility that through the ignorance of the electorate someone incompetent to serve might ascend to the office of President of the United States. They built in protection against that in the institution of the Electoral College. The intent was to allow appointed representatives from each state to provide a check against voters electing a charismatic but unqualified candidate to the office of President. I am sure they never imagined that the electors would be so committed to a political party over the welfare of their State or Country that they would elect such a person! But in 2016 they did!!
During the primary election cycle the other Republican candidates for President in 2016 mostly met the minimum qualifications to be President. They knew and vocally expressed what a significant majority of American voters knew and said on elections day: Donald J. Trump is unfit for the Office of President! He is in fact exactly the kind of person the Founders were trying to protect us against.
Regardless, after the more rational and sane Republican candidates dropped out of the race, most turned around and endorsed the candidate they had repeatedly identified during the campaign as unfit for Office. After all he claimed to be a Republican! So what’s a little incompetence or corruption when he has the right Party affiliation? An interesting parallel is that “party men” in the early ‘30s decided to let the charismatic Hitler be Chancellor of Germany so they could better control him!!
Now eight months after taking office Trump is demonstrating every day that he is uniquely unqualified to hold the Office. He shows himself to be an incompetent, narcissistic, autocratic, hateful, amoral, and dangerous pathological liar. He seems to have no idea about, or interest in, democratic governance, Constitutional separation of powers, or the rule of law. And some of us suspect his defense of the “very fine” neo-Nazis and white supremacists carrying torches in Charlottesville makes him a probable racist and white supremacist himself. Other than that he may be a nice guy!!!
But where is the Republican Party now? Are they willing to exercise any independent authority in their co-equal branch of government? So far most members seem to be either supporting Trump’s erratic and dangerous behavior, making excuses for it, or just keeping quiet. Few are calling him out on his abuse of the free press, contempt for the Courts, warmongering, or his disdain for democratically elected leaders of allied nations and international institutions. Is the Republican Party that much more important to members than the American People, or world peace and stability? Sadly, it looks that way to me!
And what about evangelical Christians and their leaders? Aren’t they supposed to stand against hate, bigotry, and dishonesty? Isn’t basic morality, ethical behavior, and personal responsibility any longer part of their theology? Do they no longer care about the poor and disadvantaged among us? Even if they agree with some of his economic and regulatory policies why are they not standing up loudly critical of his persistent lying, personal attacks on individuals, and lack of empathy for Dreamers, Muslims, and other minorities? And even if the evangelical leader class is too enamored with Trump and the political power they feel gravitating toward them, where are the everyday evangelical Christians? Why is there no grass roots movements of people calling themselves evangelical Christians standing up against the abhorrent behavior and excesses of the President? Are Trump qualities what the Christian right now values most?
I remember evangelicals being fond of posing the question: “what would Jesus do?”. Most know I am not Christian. But if the Bible I read is truly the Word of God I have little doubt! He would take the whip to Trump and his supporters who consume themselves with greed and power just as the New Testament records he did to the money changers in the temple. Instead, we seem to have a Trumpian hate enabling brand of Christianity today in his evangelical base.
Many of my friends are confident that a Trump Presidency will not last an entire term. I hope they are right, but I don’t share that confidence. I have no doubt that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election. With their brilliant use of social media and successful promotion of false narratives I even suspect that they may have swung the election in Trump’s favor. And I am sure that the Trump campaign operated on the edge of the legal envelope when it came to getting help from the Russians. Regardless, I will be pleasantly surprised if a criminal case can be made that the Trump organization engaged in criminal collusion with the Russians. And even if it did the criminals will likely be pardoned by “The Man”!! Obstruction of justice may be the only serious challenge to Trump’s term. But even if that happened the Constitutional crisis that causes will never be resolved in time or in a way that will protect the Country from the Trump Presidency.
Regardless of how any of that plays out in the coming months or years, there are a couple of realities. The damage Trump has already done to our international relations, our domestic institutions, and the rule of law will take a generation to heal. His warmongering (be it trade or military) words on the international stage are probably having the worse effect. Other world leaders and their people listen to the President of the United States. They are listening now, and watching what he does.
When the largest economic and military power in the world sends mixed and/or conflicting messages about its national intent and future relationships with other nations their leaders get nervous. When the President talks about radical trade policies that threaten to disrupt the free flow of goods and services other nations takes it seriously and begin contingency planning for that event. When the President issues bellicose pronouncements about “fire and fury” in a potential confrontation with another nuclear power the world shudders!
These signals, and a dozen others are having a devastating impact on the world order. Trump has already sown the seeds of a world economic recession at a minimum. We won’t necessarily see the signs tomorrow, next month, or even this year. But the drivers of economic growth have already been negatively impacted.
Regardless of the employment rate in this country, the level of the stock market, or other indicators of US national health, I predict this time next year economic reality will look very different. I believe from what Trump has already said about international trade, his military posturing, as well as the position he has taken on the TPP, the international climate change agreement, NATO, and other international institutions will have significant negative consequences. Other nations will pull back and realign themselves in ways that will hurt the US and slow world economic growth. We are already seeing some of that in the Asia-Pacific just since he tore up TPP. And if the Trump Administration were to actually make good on some of the disruptive promises he has made the downward spiral will only accelerate and deepen.
Going forward I am not necessarily going to comment on everything that is happening. But from time to time I will probably express short opinions and concerns about specific national policies. I will post a “friend of the Court” brief I wrote on political gerrymandering soon.
We live in interesting times. In one way my generation may be fortunate. We likely will not see or live with the worst fallout from today’s political landscape. I do worry about the world my grandchildren will live in though!!