The President just announced his absolute intolerance for transgender people in the US military. He’s never expressed this sentiment before. And his motivation for bringing it up now seems as impulsively random as his stated reason. Medical costs? Experts agree it’s a non-issue.
So, another preposterous tweet from the unhinged individual who happens to be our president, is followed by obligatory expressions of dismay and outrage from all but the most rabidly ‘conservative’ groups, the most prominent of whom will use the occasion to express their obligatory and hateful approval. Another day wherein the news cycle is highjacked by a capricious narcissist with a mobile device.
I suggest we’re being played.
What Trump is really doing is manufacturing hatred. Turning resentment into outrage, outrage into fear, and fear into violence. While the headlines are taken up with this story, Trump is appointing more ‘alt-right’ judges to positions that last a lifetime. He’s also ignoring the hundreds of important departmental appointments that he should have made by now in order to keep the government working properly. He’s undermining the very rights and institutions he took an oath do defend and uphold, by spreading fear and dismay amongst the most heavily armed – and the most vulnerable – people in our country. It is a strategy that depends on increasing violence, so that people won’t mind, or won’t notice, that what’s left of their liberties are being taken away.
Trump is not a Republican. He doesn’t want to ‘limit’ government. He wants singular, authoritarian control. And, most ominous of all, he’s not the one creating the narrative toward that end. Recently the Jared Kushner non-story has dominated. Before that it was poor, beleaguered Sean Spicer. Kelly Anne Conway might say something provocative or have a melt-down soon. She’s the one who introduced the idea of ‘alternative facts’ after all. Being a distraction is kinda her thing. But she’s not creating this narrative either.
Meanwhile, the ‘mainstream’ news hardly mentions Steve Bannon, because he avoids the media like a mole rat avoids light. Why would the only member of Trump’s inner circle with a comprehensive political agenda avoid talking to reporters about it? Because his politics are proudly, aggressively, and adamantly anti-democratic. Steve Bannon is a Fascist. That’s what alt-right means.
The silence on this topic grows because Democrats are unwilling or unable to find the moral high ground, let alone stand on it, since they too have corporate benefactors who might be getting a bit uneasy at the dark turn our nation has taken, but perhaps not uneasy enough to do much about it. After all, corporate political cash is like kudzu, it grows in lots of places at the same time. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, cash from all kinds of sources can flow into the pockets of Senators and Congresspeople who ‘need’ it in order to make their mouths move, no matter what it is they are saying.
This is an emergency. We are being played by really bad people. Trump is what Hitler’s propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, called a ‘useful idiot’, and Steve Bannon is, well, Josef Goebbels. He has the ear of our buffoonish, increasingly demented president, and he’s feeding him vainglorious nonsense.
What to do?
It seems to me that now is the moment to declare and vigorously defend our rights. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are all under threat. So are our rights of due process, freedom of speech, assembly, and association. For far too many of us those rights have never been real, and if things keep falling apart, the rest of us will find out what that feels like. So we need to assemble, speak, and associate. Loudly, adamantly, and constantly. We need to unify around the precious and humane idea of Freedom, as opposed to allowing that word to stand for the narrow myth of forefathers whose rugged individuality, and guns rights, are the birthright of so-called ‘real’ Americans. Our so-called forefathers were wealthy, slave owning white men who’s ancestors – like those of all of us except Native Americans – were born far across the sea. They wrote some profoundly inspired documents, which are at terrible risk of being rendered meaningless by a buffoon with a clever sociopath whispering in his ear.
Cynicism is not an option now, nor apathy, nor violence. This moment calls for a new Civil Rights Movement, a new Anti-war Movement, a new Women’s Movement, a redoubled LBGT Movement, and a more urgent than ever Environmental Movement. None will succeed fully without the others. All belong under one banner now. Let it declare: Down with Corruption. Down with Fascism. Defend Democracy. Impeach Trump. He has already done and said things that are profoundly antithetical to the ideals of this country. He has already broken the law, multiple times. We must make his only option to leave office, and in the process we must make the politics of the moment unequivocal when it comes to all of the above. We must not trade in one set of rights, in order to keep another.
Now is the time to come together, and fill the streets, and the air with a unified and adamant demand.
Impeach Trump Now.