Trump’s Truth: Can Our Democracy Survive It?

Two of the essential building blocks of a democracy are truth and trust.  They are interdependent and necessary in the relationship between the government and the governed.  It is a fundamental component of the contract between us and those whom we elect.  Agreement to adhere to that contract is inherent in the oath sworn by every officeholder.  So too are there codified remedies should an officeholder fail to do so.  While we have experienced some such failures throughout our history, never has that contract been placed under the severe stress it is experiencing today.  Trump’s tenuous relationship with the truth and reality are stretching that contract beyond any potential recovery.

For two years his supporters, advisors and pundits have talked about a pivot. It seems that they simply weren’t willing to accept that Trump is who he is.  They believed that this was some kind of clever strategy to attract and hold his base.  They were sure that when he won the nomination he would change and become more presidential.  When that didn’t work and he was elected they were convinced that he would make that long-awaited pivot upon assuming the presidency.  Time and time again there have been predictions of pivots that simply didn’t come. The fact is that Trump is the narcissistic, intellectually-lazy, thin-skinned, vindictive, impulsive and amoral man he has been since the beginning.   Truth and facts are fungible, to be utilized when convenient and ignored when they don’t serve the narrative.  He has little understanding of the intricate working of our government or the complexities of international relations, yet doesn’t appreciate the necessity to learn them.  His obvious lies, intellectual laziness, his use of deflection as a means of self-defense and his wild accusations and characterizations are reminiscent of behavior typical of an adolescent.  Through his denigration of the press, the judiciary and any other institution or group that threatens him he is trying to control a world that he believes revolves around him. When it doesn’t go according to plan he lashes out and blames everyone except himself.  It is clear that his emotional development was arrested somewhere in mid-adolescence and remains there.

Our democratic system is dependent on the interactions of the three independent and equal branches of government.  It is further dependent upon the free flow of information facilitated by a free and unfettered press.  Should any of these important components of our democracy be interfered with, the system is placed in danger.  Trump has bluntly attempted to interfere with the judiciary and continues to interfere with the press.  A basic necessity for any leader is credibility.  Can he be trusted to tell the truth and be consistent in his behavior in accordance with that truth?  On a multitude of occasions Trump has proven that he is not to be trusted.  The world order is dependent upon a predictable and rational leader of the United States.  Trump’s behavior has shown him to be unable to meet that requirement.

In the few weeks since Trump assumed the office of president he has shown himself to be a threat to our democracy and to a very fragile world order. Those that expect him to change are the same as those who waited for the pivot.  His latest accusations regarding President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower is just another indication of how unstable this president is.  If ever there was a time when it was up to “we the people” to protect our democracy it is now.  He and his Republican colleagues are expecting a gradual process of acceptance and normalization.  We must make it clear in every way possible that we will never accept the Trump Presidency as normal or the gradual degradation of civil and human rights as acceptable.   He is not and never will be my president.

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