Sunday, April 8, 2018

Trump is Henry Jekyll's Potion

     It's all about Donald Trump (at least in his funhouse mirror worldview), yet it isn't.
     Those of us in the reality-based community find it all too easy to blame Donald Trump for everything that's wrong with our once-great nation. He's the world's biggest lightning rod and, yes, we can trace the corruption, the forced deportations of Dreamers and Wall Street's instability directly to him. Throw a ton of shit at Trump and at least half of it will stick.
     But let's not give Trump too much credit- He did not shape this country nor create the political climate that makes the Bush and Obama years look like a 16 year-long golden age of bipartisanship. He merely exploited it for his own ends. And, yes, even exacerbated it. Trump's like that hard, white little clot that creates the most gigantic zit so that we're left wondering when the damned thing will finally pop and drain.
     But all Trump is is a vulture. As with Hitler (Yes, I'm invoking Godwin's law- sue me), Trump is a vulture who swooped in during a period of national discontent and stoked the anger of certain demographics still smarting from the fact that a biracial man led "their" country for eight years despite their best efforts. And Trump is now feeding on the carrion that used to be a healthy, functioning democracy that actually began dying decades ago.
     That's why I call Trump a vulture, although perhaps that, too, may be too kind since birds such as vultures, condors and buzzards are actually a vital and necessary part of the ecosystem. And these scavengers actually do their part to clean the earth.
     Donald Trump did not create racism or antisemitism, although one half expects he'll wake up at 4 one fine morning and claim credit for it on Twitter. Racism goes all the way back to the very dawn of our history when white landowners had no problem buying other human beings captured by force in Africa, transported in unimaginably horrid and inhuman conditions during the Middle Passage then sold like cattle in open auctions.
     Donald Trump was born the year after the Holocaust ended. And antisemitism has been around for several centuries longer than our unique brand of racism.
     Corruption has been steadily growing in American politics for at least two centuries. Whereas political patronage had been an unforgivable crime and any allegations of it could easily result in a challenge to a duel, as in Andrew Jackson's time, such a charge results only in yawns. Now we have an EPA administrator in Scott Pruitt who stays at a property owned by a major energy lobbyist for $50 a night and Trump says that's appropriate for Washington DC (If that's true, then someone should suggest he adjust his rates accordingly at his clip joint of a hotel down the road from the White House). And Pruitt fell behind even on that cushy arrangement.
     But the greatest danger facing America is the effect Trump is having on Americans, the real source of power even in this failing, listing democracy. People who ordinarily would have been horrified at the thought of a man having five children with three wives and bedding an endless succession of less-than-morally upstanding women during and between, people who'd previously never would've thought of voting for president a man who openly defended and embraced neonazis and antisemites, are now defending this man to the death.
     People, college-educated, usually articulate people have been fooled into thinking Trump is the greatest president ever even after just one full year in office and get vicious with even family members who say the slightest thing disparaging Trump. He's turned us into monsters.
     Trump is Henry Jekyll's potion.
     Since 2015, we've seen a startling rise in antisemitic activity.
     Since 2015, we've seen an undeniable spike in racist hate crimes.
     Since 2015, we've seen crimes against American Muslims skyrocket.
     And that's just the beginning of the vitriolic hatred we've seen in a country that was supposed to be moving in the direction of multiculturalism and racial and religious diversity.
     Trump is nothing more than an incipiently senile Elmer Gantry. As with Gantry, Trump has renounced booze and tobacco but just can't quite keep it in his pants. He preaches morality  to those who swear by it while proving himself a hypocrite at every turn. However, at the end of the film version with Burt Lancaster, Gantry eventually finds some sliver of conscience after his love interest dies in a fire.
     Trump simply doesn't have a conscience, let alone the ability to find one.
     When Trump Tower caught on fire last night (for the second time this year), all Trump could say was how well it was built and he never said a word about the elderly man who'd died or the four firefighters who were injured battling the 50th floor blaze. And apparently, Trump Tower was Grandfathered out of complying with Mayor Rudy's order to install sprinkler systems, which Trump Tower doesn't have on the upper floors.
     This shouldn't surprise anyone. What should surprise anyone with a shred of moral decency, brains and even a baseline awareness of what's going on is there is literally no red line that Trump can cross that'll get his red meat base to abandon him. They are suddenly comfortable with any cruelty he can possibly inflict or endorse. We've become a nationwide version of the Stanford Experiment.
     Let us hope this one terminates as prematurely and as abruptly as the original.
     Mr. Hyde was always within us. All it took was for Donald Trump to act as its potion to bring it out.

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