Donald Trump is probably the most hated president in U.S. history. He may be the most hated public figure since Osama bin Ladin, Saddam Hussein, or even Adolf Hitler. In less than five months, he has transformed America — not into some “great” nation that never really existed, as his red ballcaps promise, but into an alien regime hovering just north of banana republic status.
I won’t list all the ways he and his administration are destroying America. Most likely, you already know, and if you don’t know, then you haven’t been paying attention and this blog isn’t intended to inform you what’s been going on. If you, like 35 – 40% of the people in this country, think he’s been doing a great job and is really making America great again, then you have no business reading this post anyway. It’s not my desire or my responsibility to change your mind.
Donald Trump isn’t the problem though. The problem has been with us since at least the early 1980s, with the beginnings of deregulation (rolling back the laws that prevented monopolies and exploitation of workers), the breakup of the unions, and the then-revolutionary idea of trickle down economics, whose original intention was to eventually lift up all boats. Perhaps Reagan actually thought his economic policies would work. I don’t think he ever intended for things to go this far. But they did, because limitless greed and predatory business practices became too addictive and no one wanted to put the brakes on. Those benefiting the most from Reagan’s tax breaks and corporate welfare became insatiable — and at some point they sold their souls because they liked the endless flow of goodies too much.
In a nation where being the best, and having the best and most of everything were becoming the only things that mattered, empathy and caring for others became like an emotional appendix — something that was a liability in the crass, bright new world of me-first and conspicuous consumption. So caring and civility were tossed aside in favor of selfishness and even sociopathy. It took almost four decades to reach the point where this state of affairs was no longer sustainable, and in 2008, with the housing crisis, the structure was revealing how broken and rot-infested it had become. For eight years, we had a no-drama, pragmatic leader who managed to keep things from getting too much worse. So it wasn’t until 2017 that the rotted structure actually started to collapse, with the election of a pathologically narcissistic, conscienceless, authoritarian would-be dictator who is attempting to destroy anything that’s left of the country that made him what he was.
Donald Trump isn’t the cancer. He’s just the pain we feel. If Hillary had been elected instead, the disease would have silently continued to grow worse without our realizing it, until nothing could be done. The far right would have nursed their simmering hatred for Hillary and demonized her even more than they demonized Obama. Congress, the senate, and the judiciary would have continued to turn even more seats over to far right Republicans dead set on removing our civil rights, dismantling our institutions, destroying the environment, and taking away our freedom. If you think things are bad now, they would have been much worse four years from now and someone like Trump or even worse (yes, it’s possible) would have come to power in the next presidential election. Progressives would have had even less power to change anything than they do now. I think had someone like Trump come to power after four years of Hillary (who would have been constantly obstructed and then blamed for not being able to do anything) , we would have quietly become a bona fide one-party country where any dissent would be silenced or even punished. We would be beyond hope.
I don’t think things are that dire yet. We are on orange, but not yet red. There are still a few checks and balances in place. Although a minority, there are still some Democrats in powerful government positions. The legitimate news media is under attack, but it’s still vibrant and thriving, in fact more so now than it ever was. The fake news media (Fox News) that has fed the disease is now facing a reckoning and may never recover. Republicans are slowly realizing the seriousness of our situation. Progressives have realized this all along — we told them so, but they didn’t listen. Now maybe a few finally are.
The rot runs deep in America and in 2017, it can no longer be hidden or ignored. The political situation right now is like stage 4 cancer that didn’t start to hurt until the end. Oh, maybe there was a sense that something was wrong but there was nothing obvious or painful enough to make us want to change our ways. Cancer can be carried for a long time before you realize there’s anything wrong. Once it starts to hurt, and you finally make that doctor’s appointment, it may be too late. But it also may not be too late, and the pain is an alarm telling us we must take action and we must reclaim those values we thought were hampering us.