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Est. April 5, 2002
November 15, 2018 - Issue 764

America in Deep Trouble
During Trump's Reign


"For the most part, the president has used the same
techniques for 'governing' as he did to win the Republican
primary elections:  He used name-calling and base
language to whittle down his opponents in the field,
all the while steering clear of laying out any positive programs
or policies to address the real ills that the country faces"

The national train is off the rails in President Donald Trump's America.

There are many indications that prove it, from a self-professed Nazi receiving tens of thousands of votes in Illinois, to the isolation of the U.S. in Europe in the past week by most of the European nations for his recent “nationalist” stance when he spoke to his base, to his persistent claim that America's free press is “the enemy of the people.” That's for starters.

After he was schooled about the difference between patriotism and being a self-proclaimed nationalist by French President Emmanuel Macron, he returned to the U.S. and proclaimed that France would have lost World War II if it had not been for the entry into the war by the U.S. Being a non-reader and a non-listener to his advisers, who do have a sense of history, he obviously had and has no clue that, had it not been for the aid of the French at the time of the War of Independence, there likely would be no United States of America. He was there for services to commemorate the end of World War I in 1918.

But then, there are so many things about which he knows nothing. He pays attention only to his “gut” in making decisions and, although it is substantial, it has not made good decisions for him or the country. An ignorant gut does not infuse the brain with the intellectual substance that results in sound decision-making.

What he does not know will hurt the U.S. and it is hurting the U.S. He has started trade wars that are likely to result in economic difficulty, if not chaos, for the American people and the world. He has stated that “trade wars are easy to win,” but there is no evidence that he has won a single trade war, or that he is likely to win one. He has stood before his base at political rallies and proclaimed, “I am a nationalist,” leaving out the part about being a “white” nationalist. With his attitudes about black and brown and Native Americans, he has loosed upon the nation white supremacists and racists that have shown up in numbers at numerous rallies and marches, and he has been slow to identify them and denounce their presence and their existence. His presidential win was celebrated by the Klansman David Duke. The New Republic magazine, in 2016, noted, “Donald Trump has made people like David Duke feel as if they’re no longer on the fringes.”

How does that wash with the American people? So far, none of this has stopped many of his base from supporting him and voting for him. An indication of that support shows not just in the South, but in northern states like Illinois, where Arthur Jones received 56,000 votes on the Republican line. According to The Forward newspaper, “Jones, a former American Nazi Party leader, ran as a Republican candidate in the heavily-Democratic Third District outside Chicago. He was able to make the ballot because he was the only person to run in the Republican primary. He was condemned by the state Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition, but they were unable to remove him from the ballot.”

Trump relentlessly attacked Central and South Americans even before the beginning of his administration as “not the best” coming to the U.S., and he declared that they were criminals and rapists and may be carrying diseases. All of this was without any understanding about what caused the attempts at asylum or finding work that would support their families, something that they could not do in their home countries.

So it has been with the “caravan” of migrants numbering in the thousands, from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which he used as a distraction from some of his other Trump-created problems. But his constant lying and dissembling have served him well in that regard and it did take the news cycle off the mid-term election that saw Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. Trump called it a complete win for the Trump party.

The president was roundly criticized by many, even in his own party, when he failed to appear at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial about 60 miles northeast of Paris, where hundreds of Americans from World War I are buried. The reason he gave was that it was raining and his helicopter could not take him to the commemorative event. Others, including a contingent from his administration, did attend, presumably by car or bus, while he stayed in his hotel room in Paris. That prompted a grandson of Winston Churchill, Nicholas Soames, a Member of Parliament, to tweet (Trump's favorite method of communicating with the world): “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry (he's not fit to represent his great country).”

This week, his press secretary said that he declined to participate at the cemetery by car because he did not want to disrupt Paris traffic and that roads would have had to be closed to allow his motorcade to pass on such short notice. Anyone who has ever negotiated Paris traffic would know that a Trump motorcade would not have bothered French drivers in the least. He need not have been as considerate as his press secretary indicated. In fact, consideration by Trump for anything or anyone but Trump would have been the shocker. He obviously preferred the solitude of his hotel room.

Trump's standing with the rest of the world is the nation's standing. The disrespect that he has shown toward other nations and their leaders has been reciprocated in full measure. His unilateral withdrawal from multi-national agreements, whether trade or defense, has removed any trust that the rest of the world has had for the U.S. Allies and antagonist nations can't believe anything Trump says and his lies and dissembling continue unabated and, by one recent count, he uttered such prevarications more than 80 times in one day, according to one press report.

One of the more interesting, if not frightening, aspects of his presidency is his apparent admiration of dictators and strong leaders of any kind. He has shown great respect for Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who has executed members of his own family, as well as senior officials in the government and military with such unique instruments as anti-aircraft guns, mortars, and flame throwers. His “deal” with Kim to “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula is proving to be an indication that he's been had by the dictator. He has congratulated Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, who for the past two years has presided over a “war on drugs” that has left hundreds dead in the streets in extrajudicial killings. The dead have been those who were thought to be drug dealers and drug dealer-users. Trump thought Duterte's response to the massive drug problem in his country has been very efficient. In the recent execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, Trump has been very reluctant to implicate crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, primarily because he does not want to endanger the sale to the Saudis of some $13 billion in weapons of war. Others have said that a Turkish recording of the events in the embassy do indicate that the 15-member hit squad did so at the direction of the crown prince.

These are a few who he has held up as leaders to be respected, even admired, while, for U.S. allies, Trump has indicated his disdain for their hesitation to deal with their own problems (such as surges of migrants from poorer countries) with the same brute force. Although Trump would like to have the same kind of power in his own country, there is still a body of law and respect for it that prevents it.

He has given comfort and support to white supremacists and racists which have brought them out of the woodwork. They have marched and rallied in support of white nationalism and just plain racism. In the Illlinois midterm election, even Republicans could not prevent a Nazi from running, since they did not put up a candidate in a primary election. Constituents in that heavily-democratic district must have known they were voting for a Nazi, yet they voted for him. The president has made it easier for them to vote as they did.

His most egregious crimes against democracy are his demonization of the press and his strike at the heart of regulations that might make life livable. He's called the press the “enemy of the people,” when this was clearly projection on his part; he has striven every day of his tenure to degrade every aspect of government, local and national, so that the people eventually will have little confidence that there is even hope that government will be for them and not the economic elite; he has nearly destroyed the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been the last hope for providing clean air and water for all; he has degraded the quality of food, in that toxins that are used in the raising of crops continue to be used under his regime, and finally, he has put in charge of government agencies people who have been hostile to the very reasons for their existence.

For the most part, the president has used the same techniques for “governing” as he did to win the Republican primary elections: He used name-calling and base language to whittle down his opponents in the field, all the while steering clear of laying out any positive programs or policies to address the real ills that the country faces. He had none and, to date, he has none, since he's in the White House to shred what's left of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The Democrats are the majority in the House of Representatives after the mid-term election, but it is only to be hoped that they will be up to the job of resurrecting the structures of a decent government. If they expect to bring the country back to what it was as recently as three years ago (profoundly inadequate then), they have five years of work ahead of them. The people who voted last week showed a small amount of confidence in the possibility of change, though they kept the Republicans in charge of the Senate. Global warming and climate change and a declining democracy at home present the Democrats with difficult challenges. Now that the Republican Party has become the Party of Trump, Democrats had better not fail to fulfill that bit of confidence shown by the people. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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