In January 2017 I promised an addition to our newsletter, TRUMPWATCH, in which we’d “…try to keep track of the most egregious lies, the most insane policies, the most blatant violations of Constitution and basic human values that the Trumpocracy has to offer.” By February it was obviously a promise I couldn’t keep. Just listing the “most blatant” desecrations was a fulltime job that even “real” news outlets were unprepared for. No matter how bad I feared things would be, the reality has been far worse. But as we finish our first full year of the man-child’s narcissism, lies, temper-tantrums, incompetence, constant golfing vacations and major brain failure; there is hope and it may come, despite all probability and at least in part, from Newt Gingrich…
Trump’s constant lying is an enigma to me. Is there no recognition of his perjury or just fear of any retribution for pointing out the serial dissimulation by this con artist? We can brush off lies about crowd size or the “most popular president ever”, but the constancy of his lying on more substantive matters makes it impossible to meaningfully consider any actual proposals. He lies to support policies, lies to oppose them, lies about errors and mistakes, lies about his daily schedule, lies about even the weather. I’m not naïve; I know politicians lie. Demanding purity from any politician leads to disappointment, but that doesn’t mean all lies or all liars are equal. In an article comparing Trump’s lies with past presidents’, the NY Times pointed out…
“the word [lie] is unfair to Obama and Bush. When they became aware that they had been saying something untrue, they often stopped doing it. Obama didn’t continue to claim that all Americans would be able to keep their existing health insurance under Obamacare, for example, and Bush changed the way he spoke about Iraq’s weapons capability. Trump is different. When he is caught lying, he will often try to discredit people telling the truth… Trump is trying to make truth irrelevant. It is extremely damaging to democracy, and it’s not an accident. It’s core to his political strategy”.
The Donald’s stream of Goebbels-ian alternative facts, his 8-year-olds’ attention span, and his limited command of language would indicate that he’s not “like, a smart person” despite his repeated assertions otherwise. Retrograde cognition along with his vexing narcissistic personality disorder makes DT’s contempt for “the other” conspicuous, adding another reason to loathe him. Trump has insulted women, Mexicans, blacks, Asians, Muslims, democrats, gays, handicapped people, veterans, gold star families, poor people, friends, enemies, countries who are friend or enemies, the White House… you get the idea. In fact, the NY Times put together a list of 410 People, Places, and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter. Our President has gone out of his way to mock every segment (except the one-percenters, Nazis, and white supremacists) of the America he pretends to love. Maybe it’s a strange sort of equal opportunity but it doesn’t unite us; it just shatters us further when we’re struggling already.
Trump’s toxic deportment has real effects. At home, Trumpets scrape to find “achievements” of any kind. Their one legislative victory was TrumpTax, but it was a victory for 1% of America at the expense of the other 99%. Abroad, American world leadership built through generations of brains, bucks, and blood is being decimated. Trump’s embarrassing withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord was unambiguously bad, but even arguable successes come with embedded failure. For example, I railed loudly against the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) during the Obama years for inadequate worker and environmental protection, inadequate benefits for the Middle Class, and the egregious TPP Trade Court made up of Corporate lobbyists. Though I was in favor of scrapping TPP, we DO need fair trade rules and nothing is being contemplated to replace it. Saying “no” is part of leadership but it’s not the end; there must be substantive proposals to move forward. Instead we and the rest of the world are left adrift.
My strong wish would be to erase everything this illegitimate president has done since he lied his way into the Oval Office. Everything with the Vulgarian’s signature should be erased. His tainted appointments should be torn out root and branch from Vice President Pence to Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch and on down every bit of the line, and the yawning gaps he hasn’t filled should be quickly staffed with very qualified, very boring people. Environmental regulations should be reinstated, immigration bans overturned, healthcare rebuilt, and consumer protections reinstated, If I had my way, we’d hold a do-over election and pretend Donald Trump never happened to our country. But Constitutional democracy doesn’t work that way and I spoke of hope instead of wishes. What hope could there possibly be instead? Disgust and desperation motivated Trump’s election but they may yet save us as well, because if America stands for anything it’s the idea that we all deserve better than disgust and despair; we deserve justice.
Maybe, faced with the painful reality that things aren’t fine just because a huckster asserts they’re fine, disillusionment will make us restructure our electoral processes to restore true participation in power. It’s long past time for a new generation to take over congress. I am disgusted by intrenched multi-millionaire old white guys paid to do the bidding of their corporate masters; I think grotesque levels of personal wealth or support from wealth should disqualify a candidate, as their priorities are clear. No important issue, be it electoral system failure, Social Security, Single-Payer healthcare, bloated military, imperialism and permanent war, global scale environmental ruination, charter schools and education, or any other will be allowed to change for the benefit of the majority while greed rules. I want to be represented by people I respect (even ones I may not always agree with) in a Congress that represents ALL Americans. Maybe we’ll realize that We the People can’t change anything without first changing our representation and money’s control over the process.
Desperation may change Congress in 2018 and prompt the removal of the troglodyte-in-chief, but perhaps not. Perhaps, in a Congress purged of Trumpets, the torpid Democratic Party can re-polarize and return as the party of the working class with real progressive values. A strong clean and renewed party that can try to work with any lucid Republicans still standing (after the tax-cut purge I hope to see in the next cycles) to create actual laws, not executive orders, reflecting a consensus of the electorate. Desperation may prompt politicians and voters to consider solutions they’d written off before… as the Republican repeal of the Obamacare mandate implodes the healthcare system, the unthinkable solution of Single Payer HealthCare may suddenly become plausible. A disillusioned, yet stronger, electorate may force Congress to aggressively use tools like Newt Gingrich’s Congressional Review Act to reverse Trumpism’s worst abuses (and in fact, they already are).
Trump is making good on his promise (through Bannon) to “destroy the administrative state”, but we can’t let disgust make us forget that our “administrative state” is something we’ve built together for over 200 years. For all its very real flaws we take most of what it does for granted because it works so well. Living under the rule of laws may be annoying but (when they work) those pesky rules keep our military from running amok here and abroad, keep our courts impartial, our votes secure, our water clean, our workplaces safe, our drugs effective, our children educated, and so much more. Even those who voted for Trump are beginning to reassess now that the growing chasm between rhetoric and reality begins to adversely affect their lives.
Nothing will change if we settle for disgust, disillusionment, and desperation, but everything can change if we use them as a springboard to courage, satisfaction, and confidence. Trump has amplified some deep and ugly truths about America, but while he represents our lowest impulses I know he doesn’t represent our highest possibilities. My hope for 2018 and beyond lies with each of us individually and collectively working for justice and better ways.
Make a great year,
As we all buckle down for the second year of the Trumpocracy, education and involvement will be our friends, so please let me introduce you to some of my very best friends…
The Young Turks- Hard hitting, no BS, investigative reporting that’s rare anymore. TYT’s Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian bring together a host of hosts for real news and unvarnished opinion.
Justice Democrats– Supporting CorproDems is a waste of time, but supporting real Democrats may not be. “If you want a strong Democratic Party that doesn’t cater to corporate donors and will fight for the average American, join [Justice Democrats] to take the party back!”
WolfPAC– Real change won’t happen without real change in the System. WolfPAC is one of the many groups working to make Representatives representative.
Although we weren’t able to keep our Trumpwatch promise, other groups are still fighting the good fight. Here’s just a few…
Trump Watch– From the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Keeping a vigilant eye on the administration’s environmental actions.”
Trump Watch– From the Washington Post, “A running tally of Trump administration policies, statements and executive actions affecting civil liberties”
Trump Watch– From Nation columnist Jon Wiener
Trump Watch– A Patreon Project “…creating an objective daily report on our objectively worst President.”
Trump Watch– Donald Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio’s take on the unconventional president-elect’s transition to the White House.
Are Toxic Political Conversations Changing How We Feel about Objective Truth? By Fisher, Knobe, Strickland, and Keil in Scientific American, Jan 2018
Rebuilding America After Trump, by Chris Ladd on Forbes.com, Nov 2016
Syria Is Joining the Paris Agreement. Now What? By Robinson Meyer in The Atlantic, Nov 2017
The 410 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List by Jasmine Lee and Kevin Quealy in the NY Times, Dec 2017
In 355 days, President Trump has made 2,001 false or misleading claims by Washington Post Fact Checker, Updated Jan 2018
Making China Great Again- By Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, Jan 2018
YEAR END ROUND-UP: The MASSIVE List of President Trump’s Accomplishments In His First Year by Jon Hall in Free Market Shooter, Dec 2017
Brooke Baldwin reviews 4 weeks of Trump on CNN, Aug 2017
Trump’s end-of-year accomplishment list isn’t that skimpy. Of course, the party’s in charge, by Jonah Goldberg in LA Times, Dec 2017
Year One List: 81 major Trump achievements, 11 Obama legacy items repealed, by Paul Bedard in Washington Examiner, Dec 2017
Tom’s Tidbits- Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes! By Tom Dwyer in Your Car Matters, Jan 2017
Ex-Bush press secretary: GOP is doomed in the midterms if Trump continues to only cater to his base byTom Boggioni on Raw Story, Dec 2017
Delusional Trump Claims He’s Just As Popular As Obama Was After First Year by Farron Cousins on The Ring of Fire, Dec 2017
A Path to Power for the American Left by Ethan Young in The Indypendent, Dec 2017
Five things we learned from Donald Trump’s Christmas holiday, BBC News, Dec 2017
Republicans Mock “Coastal Elites,” But the Trump Administration Is Full of Them by Shaun King on The Intercept, Dec 2017
Trump’s Lies vs. Obama’s by Leonhardt, Philbrick, and Thompson in the NY Times, Dec 2017
Looking back at 12 months of Tidbits
2017 marked our 30th year in business, and Tom looks back over a long, strange trip. THANK YOU!
The Democrats are counting the 2018 chickens already, but they’d better offer an alternative to Trump… or lose
Our Sellwood neighborhood doesn’t have to wither… the power to save it lies with each of us
The Trump administration faces enduring questions as it gets underway for real
The First 100 were educational to us all, but are the Democrats learning the lessons they’ll need?
Obamacare made it obvious, but the “efforts” of the Republicans make it imperative
The Trump administration begins with a series of obvious and easily disproved lies. (Spoiler: It only gets worse)