The cracks are beginning to deepen
There has never been a president like Donald Trump. There has never been a campaign like the campaign that Trump waged to win the election. And there has never been a first month of a new administration like the first month of the Trump administration.
His detractors — and I am one of them — need to stop saying, “This is not normal.” Of course it is not normal. It was never supposed to be normal. The appeal of Trump was built upon that precipice. The American people were fed up with “normal” as it pertains to American politics, so to use that particular phrase as a rallying cry of the resistance is to miss the point entirely.
Let us instead say that, “This is not right,” or better still, “This is not America.” Because it isn’t.
I still believe in America. And it is because of that optimism that I believe the colossal error in judgment that brought the Trump era upon us will be corrected in elections to come. Or perhaps much sooner. Eventually, those who supported — or still support — Trump will measure their embarrassment (or rage in having been repeatedly lied to) according to how soon they jumped off the bandwagon and realized that while the political system is indeed in need of serious reform and shaking up, that Donald J. Trump is the last man America needs as a reformer or a shaker.
Aided and abetted by years of attacks on the mainstream media by Fox News and other right-wing websites, Trump now presides over a “post-truth” country in which millions of Americans believe that absolutely no news source outside of their alt-right echo chamber can be trusted. In their twisted view, whatever he says — no matter how outrageous or how lacking in empirical evidence — is as “valid” as what anybody else says, especially if “anybody else” is in any way related to the mainstream media, with “mainstream” being defined as any news source at all that is not associated with the alt-right lie and hate factory.
By now, the sheer scale of Trump’s dishonesty is so vast that it is difficult to track. We barely have time to process and react to one outrageous lie before the next one is tweeted out at 3 a.m. or blurted out in a press conference or rally. Some of his lies are, without question, carefully calculated, including any lie that contributes to the assault on the media, a core strategy that helped get him elected in the first place and one he shares with history’s most notorious authoritarians. There is a reason that George Orwell’s disturbing masterpiece 1984 is suddenly back on the bestseller list. Trump may not read, but millions of Americans do, and they are quite understandably alarmed by the parallels in Orwell’s book and the defining characteristics of the Trump presidency.
At other times, Trump’s lies seem unpremeditated, even off the cuff, as if he is thinks he’s a guest speaker at a Dean Martin roast, cracking wise like a poor imitation of Don Rickles, just riffing on whatever pops into his corroded little mind. That probably accounts for his insinuation of a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened, just as the “Bowling Green Massacre” alleged by Kellyanne Conway never happened.
For a while, it appeared that nothing could break through the most impressive wall Trump will ever build — the wall between reality and Trump’s alternate reality. But in the past week, we have finally seen some serious cracks in the foundation of that wall.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has taken Trump to task over his ties to Russia — which may well turn out to be his undoing — as well as attack on the press. Possibly even worse for Trump, Fox News anchors Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace both “broke ranks” to challenge Trump on his attacks on the free press.
While these developments may not necessarily add up to a crisis for the Trump administration, they may portend what is to come, the gradual realization on the part of those Trump supporters who are not completely around the bend already, that Trump is not the refreshing political trailblazer they hoped he would be and voted for, but a self-absorbed, petulant tyrant who cannot seem to complete one declarative sentence that does not contain a lie.
Instead of draining the swamp, as he promised he would do over and over during his campaign, he simply restocked it with even bigger and more menacing reptiles, including an education secretary who is an avowed enemy of public education and an EPA head who is a climate change denier and in the tank for the fossil fuel industry. He based much of his campaign on Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, and then stuffed his cabinet with billionaires from Goldman Sachs.
The New York Times reported last week that Trump campaign aides had contact with Russian officials prior to the election, which Trump has repeatedly denied. We may well be a short step away from a full-fledged congressional investigation. If there is any evidence that Trump knew about Russia’s tampering into our election, we will have a scandal that will tower over Watergate, according to Dan Rather.
The cracks are getting larger by the day, and will only continue to multiply. No, this is not normal. It is also not right. And it is definitely not America.