Thursday, June 8, 2017


Through a strange sequence of highly unlikely events, the United States has elected a President like no other. In just over four months in office, Donald Trump has created a tremendous amount of chaos and turmoil in Washington DC, throughout the nation, and in the world. Opposition to his Administration is rapidly spreading, and is reaching severe intensity. For some, it was not unexpected, as there were ample warning signs about his character, his emotional nature, and his fitness and preparation for office expressed and widely circulated prior to his election.  Others, including many swing voters who did want a change in Wash DC, hoped he would grow into the office, rise to the occasion, and disprove the concerns that had been expressed about him.  This has not happened.

The concerns about Trump's nature are again being expressed, now in more serious form, amplified by the reality of the policies he is proposing.  Is he evil, "dancing with the devil", with no regard for the damaging effect of his actions on others?  Is he mentally or emotionally disturbed?  He has been labeled  a psychopath, sociopath, narcissist, self-serving opportunist, megalomaniac, etc. by various mental health professionals. His angry, insulting outbursts, and erratic twitter behavior do raise questions.  Does he have fascist leanings, expressing an attraction for dictators, revealed by making some positive comments about leaders such as Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, and Rodrigo Duterte? Is he a racist, influenced by the association his father had had with the Ku Klux Klan; and also by early experiences in real estate, employing questionable management practices when owning tenement housing complexes in minority-dominant areas?  Is he a sexist, in the most negative connation of the word, attracted to women mainly for their beauty, exercising control and dominance over them, and using them readily for his own pleasure, whether consensual or not?  Is he overly combative and conflict-prone?  The fact that he has been involved in over a thousand lawsuits must mean something. The list could go on, serious charges all.

But Trump was elected in spite of these concerns being fully aired. His core backers, perhaps 20 to 30% of the population, are still solidly supporting him, and Republican party leadership is staying with him, to enact as much of their agenda as they can while he is in office, and also to not alienate Trump's voter base from supporting their party,  since they couldn't stay viable politically without the backing of Trump's core supporters in elections. Otherwise responsible Republican leaders are remaining mute or offering support in reacting to Trump's often disturbing antics or questionable actions, seemingly swallowing their principles and their pride in the process. So the Trump machine is rolling on, in spite of the damage it is leaving in its wake, and this is still after only four plus months in office.

Since it is clear it will not be the nature of Trump's character alone that will disqualify him from office, and the potential danger to the nation of a long Trump rule is too great for many who oppose him to accept, what options are open to them. Two immediate avenues remain that could lead to his removal. One is being found guilty of illegal, unconstitutional actions, and a special investigator and congressional investigations are already looking into questionable actions which could ultimately implicate Trump, but only over a long, uncertain, circuitous process. The other option is ever-increasing public opposition to his actions, focusing on the damaging effects his policies are having, and proposed policies likely to have,  on a majority of the nation's population. Whether dealing with healthcare, financial regulation, the environment, education, human rights, consumer protection, women's rights, gun control, voting rights, foreign affairs, etc., many of Trump's actions and proposals are downright dangerous, endangering the well-being of most citizens, especially the most vulnerable, while favoring vested interests, the select few, and his own self-serving biases. Opposition to his designs and policies is spreading in ways not seen since the Vietnamese War opposition. It needs to be vocal and heard loud and clear in the hallways of the Capitol, as Congress will typically not move until they are forced to by their electorate.  The gravity of the threats is seen by many as necessitating such a response, and the crescendo is rising.

Campaigns have been mounted to fight Trump on many of the specific areas in which large groups of citizens feel threatened, and these will grow in size and intensity as the threats come to be more fully experienced. One potentially powerful, overarching campaign which could be launched against Trump is that his entire campaign, Make America Great Again, was based on an entire fraud, just as much of what Trump is, and has done, is based on fraud. He campaigned on becoming a voice for the person in the street, to speak for the forgotten people, neglected by the establishment in Wash. DC and taken advantage of by Wall Street.  His Administration, in fact, is doing exactly the opposite, creating,  a new establishment of the millionaires and billionaires like himself who will call the shots in moving the nation towards Trump's own, more exclusionary, vision for America.

Trump seems intent on destroying the very process that has made America great. During our nation's over 200 years of history, there has been a progressive forward movement, with more and more Americans, often through long-fought political struggles, receiving the rewards of being included in The American Dream. The American Dream involves inclusiveness, equal opportunity, fair play, acceptance of differences, the possibility of upward mobility. It is an ideal, an objective our nation values and tries to achieve, however rarely if ever fully obtained.  Trump's policies directly attack the fundaments of The American Dream.  They are destroying the very principles, purpose, and policies that have made our nation great, the inclusion of more and more people in The American Dream. The progress, through sweat, toil, and tears, our nation has made, he seems intent on rolling back, reversing. Those protesting are equally intent on not letting this happen.

The American Dream is deeply embedded in the American psyche. When people think of America as an "Exceptional Nation", that is one of the prime qualities they are referring to. The long, arduous process leading to the American Dream being what it is today is not to be taken lightly. There was a political battle for non-property owners to gain the right to vote, an even more intense, lengthy battle for women to become able to vote a century later.  Women are still battling for their full share of rights, and against strong forces preventing them.  A Civil War was fought to free the slaves, and another hundred years passed before civil rights legislation was enacted to give African Americans other rights they had long been denied. Intense battles were fought to regulate corporations and holding companies from grossly unfair business and employee practices.  Setting aside some public land to preserve its natural beauty and keep it available for public enjoyment occurred only after long political effort. Programs like Social Security and Medicare, for citizens in their later years, were fought tooth and nail by conservatives. And so it goes. The American Dream had to be fought for, long and hard. Retaining it in the current political climate, especially under Trump's influence, will also be a real battle. One well worth fighting for!

The current weakening of the American Dream began before Trump. A strong, vibrant, mobile Middle Class is vital to the concept of the American Dream, and the Middle Class in America has been under attack and in decline since the eight years of Ronald Reagan. The tax, labor, and budgetary spending changes which were a part of Reaganomics began the decline of middle class strength in the US, and the percentage of wealth held in the hands of an ever smaller percentage of the population began to increase.  Neoliberal trade and economic policies enacted during the Clinton years increased the pressure on the middle class, and its decline, in numbers and in percent of wealth held, continued.  The Bush-Cheney era Iraq War diverted needed domestic spending to defense and war budgeting, while continued lax financial regulation set the nation up for the economic collapse of 2008, from which only the most wealthy have fully recovered. The middle class is still struggling with the effects of employment offshoring and limited domestic employment opportunity, and homelessness and extreme poverty have become growing problems. Obama did what he could to expand healthcare to millions of citizens who lacked insurance, met massive resistance on this and other attempts to met social needs, and was fortunate to achieve what he could. The government was becoming dysfunctional, caught up in polarization and political gridlock, failing to meet people's needs.

Enter Trump, an opportunist of the highest order. He saw an opening, set himself up as an anti-establishment candidate on the right, took advantage of a vast field of  establishment-based Republican candidates, and won the nomination through an insult, divide, and conquer process.  The presumptive candidate the Democrats offered, Hillary Clinton,  assumed victory was hers against such an unlikely candidate, failed to understand and speak to the voters anti-establishment fervor, and was lax in campaigning, not going to some key Democratic, labor-based states,  Not too surprising she lost, considering the lack of enthusiasm her campaign aroused, but still amazing that Trump won, leading to the chaos the nation now encounters.

Domestically, there is a battle going on between Corporatocracy and Democracy.   Thanks to Trump, it is now the high rollers in the corporate world that are not only winning, but winning more than ever.  His  "draining the swamp" is better identified as clearing out all the rules, all the regulations, letting those with the most money and power have their way.  The lust for mega-wealth he exemplifies is creating a capitalism gone berserk, a world of winners and losers, a no holds barred Zero Sum Game, let the participants beware, winners take as much as they can get.  In the Trump World, the Golden Rule as a social ethic, in personal life or  in government, is being perverted from "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" to "Whoever Has the Gold Rules".  Perfect for Trump, for his family, his corporate supporters, the Koch brothers, etc. Not so good for the rest of us! Internationally, too, Trump has his own agenda. The world, to him and his foreign policy advisors, is an "arena" in which to compete. Cooperation, alliances, attempting to work together to resolve international conflict, is overrated, lessening ones ability to gain the advantage. Perhaps Trump offers  the kind of world he is most comfortable in, and the kind of nation he wants to live in. Its not at all the kind of nation and world that many of us desire to be a part of. It is incumbent on us to mobilize our resources and our energies to ensure that his intent, his vision, his inversion of the American Dream does not become the reality we live under. We deserve, and demand, a much better, more just, more inclusive, destiny.