Introductory note. This is an opinion piece written by Ricardo Silvestre, of the Democratas.
Now that we have a year of Trump Presidency, it’s worth to have a retrospect look on what has been the equivalent of being on a roller coaster, where we alternate between legitimate fears that the White House, and the Republican majority, will ruin the United States in an irretrievable way, and the relief of realizing that those same people are so incompetent that they can not destroy what is done, which is considerably easier than having to rule a nation like to America.
One of the positive things since the Trump election took place, and the Republican party has taken over the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House, is that no legislation that really matters, or that had a profund impact on society was passed. On the other hand, there are several cases of failure, or actions that have diminished, if not even shamed, the United States.
Internally, we have (among many other examples).
1) The attacks on the press, with the easy (and fascist) solution of labeling all negative news about the Presidency as “fake news”. This attitude is corrosive at the moment, and in the future, because it will create a whole generation of politicians who can do whatever they want without fear of being exposed by the press and face the consequences for their actions.
2) Lying in a compulsive and incomprehensible way. From the very first moment of taking office, where anyone, anyone (!) could see by two comparative photographs that the President and his Spokesman were lying blatantly. The falsehoods the President has already said since November goes in 1268 lies by the time we write this post, or an average of 5.5 per day.
3) Obstruction of justice. The President fired the Director of the FBI for failing to take an oath of loyalty, and because he was pursuing with the investigation into the Russian influence in the November elections. Thatresulted in the appointment of a Special Prosecutor who, as reported, may also fall victim to a “Saturday night massacre”, like in the Nixon Administration.
4) The different Executive Orders with a “ban on entering the United States”, mainly for countries with a Muslim majority, which have been systematically beaten down by Federal courts.
5) The inability to repel the Affordable Care Act, although Republicans have tried it more than 60 times in 6 years, and this was one of the Trump Campaign’s promises.
7) The terrible response to the natural disasters of hurricanes Irma and Maria, with the Federal Government havinga a sub-par action , and even in the case of Puerto Rico, with the President involved in totally unnecessary and counterproductive controversies, both at the personal level and and threats and withdrawal of Federal aid.
8) The loss of life of 4 soldiers in Nigeria, on a poorly prepared mission and without Military Intelligence support. When the Administration was confronted with this, there were no answers for a long time, and when it happened it was with the attempt to free the President and pass all responsibilities to the military.
9) The attempt to reduce the rights of free expression and peaceful association, ranging from the Department of Justice to the President, from universities to professional sports leagues.
10) Persecution of political opponents. Obsessed with the defeat of the popular vote and fueled by FOX News and its stupefying conspiracy theories that always target Hillary Clinton, the US President uses his position to “suggest” to the Justice Department that criminally prosecutes the Democratic Party as well as the candidate of that party to the last elections.
11) The Wall. First it was Mexico that was going to pay, then it was Mexico that was going to pay later, then it is the American taxpayers who will pay. Then it may be a wall, but it will be transparent to see the bags of drugs being thrown. Then it may not be a wall but a fence. Not even a comedy show could be so ridiculous.
12) There are “some good people” in white supremacist movements. After Charlottesville’s horror, not only did the President take a long time to make a public address, but when he did he was clearly bothered by it, and when he had an opportunity to speak without prior preparation, he had a set of statements that alone should be reasons for Impeachment.
At a global level, there has been a decline in US power as a diplomatic force, an absurd subservience to Moscow, the willingness to move away from the Paris Agreements (the United States is the only, the only nation not wanting to be in the Agreements), a commitment to revitalize the coal industry by drawing support for the development of renewable energy technologies, the threats to change the nature and functioning of NATO, and of course the “primary school insults” between the President of the United States and the “Little Rocket Man”, this said of the podium of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Trumpism phenomenon is based on a consecutive and unrelenting attack on knowledge and competence. The anti-intellectualism presented by Trump, and the machine that promotes him, ties to conceal ignorance and idiocy as populism and tries to create empathy with less informed voters, which are more likely to agree with extremist ideologies. Trump’s identification as a “man of the people” stems from a belief by this “people” that the President of America is able to overcome his manifest lack of quality and preparation using “intuition”, “experience” and “common sense,” when none of it it’s hallmark of the current President well, or even his voters.
Then there is the irresponsibility of being ignorant. The President of the United States must always remind the press, and their voters, of “how smart, educated, and experienced he is.” And yet his opinions, statements, and suggestions on domestic and foreign policy mainly show how much Trump knows not the least of the subjects in which he ought to know more. This phenomenon of someone being deeply ignorant about a subject, and yet presenting himself as an authority on this subject is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. This style of behavior is observable in the other members of the Administration, Presidential staff, and government administrators.
And finally there is the reinforcement of the incompetence of the President. The conservative and Republican press machine (FOX News, Breitbart, Wall Street Journal (at least the Editorial part), talk-radio, commentators) creates, and maintains, an alternative reality where everything done by the President “puts America First “. And when it is easily demonstrated that this is not the case, immediately the mechanisms of obfuscation are triggered; spin, falsehoods, inconsequential comparisons (the famous whataboutism), and attempts to accuse the president’s critics of being biased, malevolent, or “not wanting the best for the United States.” And in the midst of such ” empirical and factual analysis never gain traction. And since this “bubble” is that which the President, and his voters, follow (FOX News, Breitbart), the circle of reinforcement is maintained, and increased: “The President is never wrong” … “See? America believes that the President is never wrong. ”
However, some positive indicators are emerging in an America that is expected to “revolt” against such a state of affairs. The first electoral victories are already beginning to appear, even in places where Trump and Trumpism had won the Presidential elections. And it is less than a year before, we hope, the Democratic Party wins the Senate and House of Representatives, and the change of course takes shape.
Hopefully for next year, when we write the chronicle of the two years of Trump Administration, we can mention that the Impeachment process is under way.
(This Op-Ed is from the responsability of Ricardo Silvestre)