It’s been over two months since Inauguration Day. Nothing has changed and let’s face it, nothing will change. In fact it might get worse, much worse. We shouldn’t be completely surprised. Trump has been telling us what he was going to do and giving us hints about who he is for a long time. We just didn’t want to believe that what we were hearing and seeing was real. Well, it’s time for us to face the facts and deal with them.
Just so that we are on the same page, let’s lay out what we know about Trump. We know that he is a narcissist and lacks a moral compass. Additionally, he has authoritarian leanings and demands total loyalty from those around him. It is clear that he trusts his own judgement above all others and once he has made a decision will never acknowledge an error. He has little respect for the law and tolerates institutional structures and behavior only as long as they are not an impediment to his goals. He is not an ideologue and makes decisions based strictly on self-interest. If he perceives that a decision turns out to be against his self-interest, he will unapologetically change course, never acknowledging the change or the error. We know that to him truth is fungible. It is what he says it is at any given moment. His communication is unrestrained and untempered. His behavior is often impulsive and reactive. We know that his promises are meaningless and that they are often part of the self-aggrandizing bluster that characterize his speeches.
While it is interesting to analyze and assess Trump’s characteristics, it is of no consequence if we ignore the ways they have translated into his behavior as president. There are a number of instances and actions that are very telling. First, a look at those with whom he surrounds himself tells us much. They too have authoritarian leanings and share his disdain for institutions and behaviors that impede or challenge. His cabinet choices, while in some cases showing some independence during the confirmation hearings , are being kept on a short leash. It is clear that many of those executive departments are being diminished in power and importance. In fact, each department has a “presidential advisor” on staff to insure loyalty and adherence. His EO’s have been destructive and antithetical to what America has stood for around the world. His rush to deregulate has degraded basic protections in areas such as water and air quality, food and drug safety and economic security. In all cases these changes favor big business and of course Trump. His behavior towards our allies has raised grave questions regarding the future of those alliances and his remarks regarding trade policy have been unsettling, at best, to our most important trading partners. His inexplicable behavior with regard to Russia and Putin has caused concern among his detractors as well as his supporters. The fact that he and his campaign are under investigation by the FBI in relation to possible collusion with the Russians during the campaign is shocking. Trump’s irresponsible and baseless accusations regarding Obama’s wiretapping of Trump Tower and his many other demonstrably untrue claims have brought into question his credibility. His relative silence regarding the major increase in hate crimes particularly directed towards Jews, Muslims, Latinos and Blacks is of great concern. This lack of action is a complete failure as a moral leader. Trump’s promise that with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act there will be coverage for all at lower costs will be a promise unkept if the healthcare bill that he supports passes the house. HIs inability to get this bill passed will also be a gross failure in his leadership and famed negotiating skills. His denigration of the press and the judiciary have been reprehensible. Finally, the values and visions reflected in the Trump budget speaks volumes and raises major concerns.
The time for sitting around and pontificating is over. We need to mobilize and challenge at every level. A few marches is a beginning, but we are far from the end. The 2018 election is around the corner and the opportunity to change the balance in state houses, state legislatures, school boards, and the house and senate cannot be wasted. Trump’s use of power is on the verge of turning into an abuse of power. Being shocked and concerned isn’t enough, Every Democrat, Progressive, Independent and concerned citizen must make themselves heard. Leading up to the election we must assertively present an alternative vision and challenge the current direction. Trump has shown himself to be dangerous to our democracy and to the world. The time for action is now.