Four scary Trump tricks you don’t need to worry about — yet
Focus must be on actions hurting people now
I take a backseat to no windbag when it comes to squawking like Chicken Little about the coming Trump Brand Apocalypse. Sure, the sky isn’t falling yet, but the sky is the limit on the havoc this so-called president might wreak.
However, some doomsday Trump scenarios can be put on the back shelf for the moment, but kept under vigilant watch. There are clear and present dangers right now that are doing real, not hypothetical, harm to real people.
These four items on the standard list of potential Trump atrocities can go on a watch list for now, though many will disagree vehemently.
- America is at risk of becoming an authoritarian state.
“We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered,” Republican David Frum wrote in a rightfully influential article in The Atlantic. Agreed. But — and it is a big but — that “dangerous challenge” remains hypothetical, distant and 1,000 percent preventable. As Frum writes, “If the story ends without too much harm to the republic, it won’t be because the dangers were imagined, but because citizens resisted.” Agreed.
Given Trump’s instability, the incompetence his regime has displayed and the level of resistance from all sorts of citizen groups, Trump Reich is not imminent. I fully agree that successful resistance — if it comes — will come from civilians, not the parties. The immoral collaboration of the GOP is at Weimar levels. The Democrats finally seem to be getting tough, but have no leadership or public trust. The call now is to combat immediate abuses relentlessly and leave prognostication alone.
- Anti-Semitism. There is no doubt that Trump’s campaign used anti-Semitic codes and memes to stir up resentful, nativist and prejudiced emotions. None. Are Trump, Steve Bannon and company genuine anti-Semites? Who knows? We don’t need to know. Judge them by their deeds; don’t waste speculating about their gristly hearts.
American Jews are far from the most vulnerable in America. Voter for voter, Jews have outsized clout. Trump will have to go pretty whacko before American Jews truly need to fret, a skill our culture has mastered.
- The sanctity of the free press. O, we scriveners are so special! The president attacks us daily and his henchman says we’re the opposition. Trump must be a despot disguised as a scam artist.
Here’s the thing: Donald Trump has tried to discredit virtually every institution and authority in America with one huge exception — Donald Trump. He has repeatedly insulted federal judges, a despicable act for a person elected to protect the rule of law and the Constitution. He has trash talked the Republican Party, his primary opponents, “all the generals,” the CIA, diplomacy, NATO, the “hedge fund guys,” every prior president and, of course, Congress.
This is the essential Trump brainwashing ploy: Everyone is a loser except the one winner, The Donald.
Don’t worry about the press. It is one of many checks on presidents — effective in some eras, but not all. The best organizations will continue to provide excellent reporting and they have more space than ever thanks to the Internet. The public hasn’t trusted the press for years, so it’s not like Trump invented a problem, he’s exploiting an old one. The quality press has existential problems far worse than Trump’s playground taunts.
- The White House as subsidiary of Trump Tower. As repulsive and depraved as this potential corruption is, it is among the less dire bacteria infecting the White House.
Trump cannot have conflicts of interest because he has one and only one interest: Trump. This president will do as he wishes to aggrandize and please his insatiable ego — from sleazy business deals to insulting heads of state. The idea that he can separate himself from his brand and greed is absurd, no matter what Potemkin legal barrier he poses behind. So simply assume that Trump and his family of greed-bots will hoover up everything they can from Dad’s gilded reign. This will not cause disgrace, not deaths, poverty, wars or famine. With luck, it could lead to impeachable offenses.
I do not mean to be flip about these assorted cancers growing on the presidency. But they are slow growing. There are fast growing tumors that can do great harm to real people now.
The cynical and nationally self-destructive immigration ban is Exhibit A. It is ruining innocent lives around the world, terrorizing families, and totally ineffective in deterring acts of terror by foreigners in America, which are very rare anyway. Americans are giving up health insurance because of Trump-induced chaos. He is belligerently goading volatile countries. He is telling financial service companies they have no fiduciary duty to invest retirement funds for the benefit of customers, they’re free to maximize their own profits
This is where the focus of resistance must be now. It seems to be happening, an encouraging tick amidst so many disappointing tocks in these disconcerting times.