BE ANGRY Not only with Trump. But the people who make him possible
OKAY WITH TRUMP - in Tuscon, AZ, 2016. CREDIT: Johnny Silvercloud, Creative Commons license
I’D LIKE TO TAKE A MOMENT from the crusade to prevent Donald Trump from destroying America, just a brief moment to register a complaint: It’s not fair. None of it. As a country, we didn’t deserve Donald Trump when he took office in 2016. It also wasn’t fair that Trump turned out to be an even more treacherous president than predicted by his sorry, sordid history as a business cheat, a bigot, an abuser of women, a TV huckster and a liar. It’s wasn’t fair that after four years in the White House, Trump conspired to overturn the election that he’d just lost to Joe Biden. Now, it’s even more unfair that Trump, facing four major indictments, is still with us, and in the polls, running ahead of Biden. So, I’m taking a moment to reflect on the injustice all of this, even though it doesn’t count whether you, I or anyone else has hurt feelings. What matters is what we do to defeat Trump. On the other hand, I think that sometimes analytical, practical liberals forget to be angry – crazy mad, jumping-up-and-down furious and out-of-our-minds insane about being terrorized for eight years by Donald Trump.
WE DESERVE BETTER. By "we," I mean the millions of Americans who, among other things, are decent people. Most Americans love their children. They pay most of their taxes; they usually tell the truth; they are likely to stop at traffic lights; and often they are kind to their pets. Lots of Americans support and volunteer with hometown charities; they take care of their elders; most Americans don’t own guns, don’t shoplift, don’t say expletive deleted in public. A good many Americans wish that society should be less biased than we actually are; and a lot of Americans would like to curb the man-made gasses that are frying the planet. In other words, I believe that lots of us try do the right thing, at least what seems to be the right thing, at the time we’re doing it. Three years ago, we did this by voting Trump out of the White House. It was a happy outcome that seemed to be in line with something that the Sardinian philosopher, Joseph de Maistre, wrote in French in 1811: Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite:
One translation: Every nation has the government it deserves.
Another version: In a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve.
It sounds right, that democracy succeeds when its citizens work at it. But that turns out to be wrong. It's actually bogus. The fact is we often don’t get the government we deserve. Exhibit A: we got Trump.
TRUMP CAME TO BE, in part, because of an unfair election system. We expect that a candidate who gets the most votes wins. But that’s not always the case, thanks to one of the Constitution’s most flawed provisions, choosing winners not on vote totals, but “electoral votes,” determined by the number of each state’s U.S. Senate and House of Representatives seats. As you well know, the popular vote and the electoral count sometimes are out of sync. Hilary Clinton, in 2016, received nearly 3-million more votes than Trump, 48.2 percent to 46.1 percent. But the Electoral College, with a score of 304 to 227, waltzed Trump into the Oval Office. It wasn’t fair.
THANK YOU rally, Nashville, 2017. CREDIT: Dan Scavino, White House
HERE’S SOMETHING ELSE that’s not fair. A lot of the time, federal and state governments ignore what people want. Take guns. According to the Pew Research Center, 58 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws. Sixty-seven percent want government to prioritize alternative energy sources to curb climate change; 61 percent think there’s too much economic inequality. The Gallup poll says 69 percent would allow first-trimester abortions. Word from the State Houses and/or Congress to America: “Who cares?” So forgive me if I take a minute or two to complain, to be just a little indignant and out-of-my-mind furious, because the country and the world are in trouble, and we don’t seem to be able to fix them.
TRUMP RALLY in Phoenix, AZ, 2020. CREDIT Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license
NOW, FOR THE WORST PART. Remember those mostly nice Americans I was telling you about? Well, they are still here. But what Trump demonstrated in 2016 and what he’s showing us again, is that there’s a second bunch of Americans – and it’s a big bunch – who aren’t nice at all. More than 74-million people voted for him in 2020. And that wasn't fair to the rest of us. We’ve trusted our neighbors. We thought we shared most of the important things, the basic, core values like being a good loser, obeying the law, telling the truth and supporting the peaceful, non-violent transfer of power. We thought we could rely on each other, the folks in the house across the street and others, whom we've never met and who live on the other side of the country. The shock in 2016 was that even though Trump had lost the popular vote, millions of people did vote for him and cheered when the Electoral College put him over the top. Now, even more people would do it again. Even after Trump’s terrible presidency, culminating in his attempt to overturn the Biden election by engineering the 2021 riot at the Capitol, millions of voters are okay with that and want him to continue to do awful stuff, only worse. Think of it. The presumptive leader of the free world tried to cheat on an election, and lots of people are okay with that. Pollsters tell us that if the election were held today, more people would vote for Trump than Joe Biden. And the reason lies with those who are close to us. Our uncles, wives, great-aunts and brothers are okay with Donald Trump. The same goes for our co-workers, teaching assistants, second-best friends and the diners at the restaurant table next to ours. The guy driving the Honda Civic behind our F-150 is A-OK with Trump. People who went to daycare with us have grown up to be okay with Trump. Fans, who are cheering for our football team, are okay with Donald Trump. The patient groaning in the emergency room bay next to yours is okay with Donald Trump. The friendly lady, who’s walking in the park with her cute Jack Russell, is okay with Donald Trump. We are betrayed.
PRO-TRUMP - in Tuscon, AZ, 2016. CREDIT: Johnny Silvercloud, Creative Commons license
I'VE BEEN a reporter and writer for 58 years, long enough to have learned that journalists don't know very much, although I've met some smart ones. Mainly, what reporters know comes from asking other people questions and fretting about the answers. This blog is a successor to one inspired by our dog, Phoebe, who was smart, sweet and the antithesis of Donald Trump. She died Feb. 3, and I don't see getting over that very soon. Occasionally, I may try to reach her via cell phone.