Quotes: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Actor, 1887); It is better to be feared than loved (Machiavelli, 1532); Let them eat cake (misattrib. Marie Antoinette, c.1782); The rich are different from me and you (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1926); I’m a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one (Michael Bloomberg, 2016).
In the news: Admit It:: Trump is Unfit to serve (Washington Post, 2.15.17); The Alt-Right Gives a Press Conference (New York, 9.11.16); Trump Family’s elaborate lifestyle a logistical nightmare at taxpayer expense (Washington Post, 2.10.17); Trump buses entire Senate to White House because he can (Crooks & Liars, 4.27.17); The UN is Giving up on Trump (Politico, 6.27.17); “My Country First” Threatens global goals with US, China, Russia Lagging (T. Reuters Fndn, 7.06.17); Trump leaves leaders fearing the future as G-20 summit closes (Washington Post, 7.08.17); KKK rally in Charlottesville outnumbered by protesters (CNN 7.08.17); How Putin helped Trump defeat his Republican primary rivals (Newsweek, 7.19.17).
In perspective: On a technicality in 2016, America leapt off the cliff and handed its mightiest powers to known business huckster Donald Trump. His election may have been the starting gun for proof that the white-male stranglehold on global power just may be over because Trump in the Oval Office has triggered the worst excesses that runaway white testosterone has inflicted on the world for millennia. The contrast with his immediate predecessor Obama is both glaring and definitive.
Donald Trump emerged as an American cultural figure in a splash of news coverage over the years by making himself a media magnet, compelling attention through an assault on the expected much as a traffic accident draws a crowd. He made his mark in the cut-throat world of high-end New York real estate by leveraging interests, dodging laws and selling schemes so successfully that local banks stopped lending him money never repaid on failed ventures. The self-promoting deal-wizard then found financing among more fluid overseas opportunities and diversified into glitzy fields ranging from beauty contests to product branding, TV, entertainment and the get-rich-quick version of education with the unaccredited Trump University.
Class-action lawsuits against the bogus and defunct U were in the works when Trump won the 2016 election and he quickly agreed to a $25 million settlement with the public boast that he did so only for the good of the country so it would not be distracted as he governed. An avalanche of less time-sensational lawsuits and probes fell by the wayside like road-kill, including the questionable status of his Trump Foundation and possible Trump ties to far-flung Russian money-laundering schemes. Six months into the Trump tenure, the Federal Prosecutor in the latter two cases had long been fired, the Trump U settlement money was still outstanding and the FBI Director investigating a Russian role in the election itself had also been fired. Those developments, which amounted to blocking ongoing actions, were mere details in the tornado of Trump blasting through limits on his unparalleled new powers and opportunities.
Trump won the conservative Republican party’s nomination for president by bush-whacking 17 rivals with an aggressive savagery that left them numbed as if struck by cobra venom. He then flayed his female Democratic opponent with the same tactics ramped up to the target. He loomed, lurked, threatened, accused and shamed her through her spouse, freely resorting to such dirty tricks as resurrecting the man’s past indiscretions while burying his own blistering disgraces with media distractions. Overall, his crude behavior was treated as a trademark splurge of theatricality in a bogus bid for president but a handful of followers gave his campaign traction.
Whether or not the first Trump supporters were paid actors as rumored, the core base snow-balled throughout the campaign as Trump gave loud voice to primitive raw sentiments seething over eight years, ever since America made history by electing the western industrialized world’s first non-white Head of State. That was in response to a global economic crisis brought on by eight years of Republican policies that no longer worked in a global world.
The backlash to the historic 2008 election of Barack Obama was instantaneous and fierce. It grew rabid as Obama succeeded despite best Congressional efforts to thwart him. From Tea Party to the outrageous Trump-led birther movement to the Alt-Right, white conservative fervor exploded once Trump hit his mark and found the sweetspot with the angry, frustrated and disenfranchised rust-belt middle class left behind by a rapidly changing world in which Washington and coastal elites had abandoned them.
Trump opponent Hillary Clinton characterized the base as a basket of deplorables, a term that actually referred not to the people but to the traits that Trump was able to rouse in them. Clinton was pilloried for the comment but the base wore the title with renegade pride as Trump plied the bitter underemployed group that was easy prey for his well-honed skills in leveraging interests, reading people and selling schemes to win the trust needed for getting people to hand over their money or, in 2016, their vote.
The trademark Trump skill-set is known as manipulation when used for self-interest and numerous other names when exercised for deceit. Whatever his motivation, Trump pumped the base by inflaming deplorable traits to build symbiotic affinity over perceived injustices and a drive to exact harsh pay-back by any means necessary, branding the baseball cap and milking its discord with tailored suits to build team spirit until he was a virtual Pied Piper in a leveraging move to ensnare Republicans.
Like others apart from the base, Republicans started out by quite rightly castigating Trump for ugly below-the-belt behaviors like attacking family members of rivals. But when Trump became the official Republican nominee for president, he proved out the faulty truism that the end justifies the means and that however ugly his means, Trump did achieve his ends. Criticism softened as Trump stoked deplorable traits and swept up even a a sizable portion of the mainstream with a message of change, polls indicating that many saw Trump’s crudeness as refreshing and courageous, as blunt and honest in an uncaring world of politics-as-usual. When Trump actually won the election with or without outside help, Republicans came out in full-throated support of what had become a redeemer for the near-lost hope of restoring a status quo that Obama had disrupted and Hillary Clinton had threatened.
That status quo, of course, was the premise reinforced over two-plus millennia that whites had a birthright to the lion’s share of the world’s wealth and that white men had the right to manage it. When Trump trampled Hillary Clinton who would have cemented the crack Obama had made in that time-tested system, Republicans became full-fledged Trump enablers, tolerating and justifying an avalanche of assaults on American values, laws and norms because he was a bull in a china shop with the law and that was precisely why the base had rewarded him with its vote.
Trump was and is a renegade hero to the truly rabid base and the mainstream part that would indeed back him even if he shot someone in plain sight as he boasted. Perhaps those rebels get a vicarious thrill from “their man” doing just what they would given the opportunity. Maybe boredom in dead-end jobs that provide much-valued security makes the Trump reality show drama a heady outlet. But whatever the Trump attraction, that kind of thinking calls for an epic disconnect in common sense in voting for a leader who would never be a role model for kids, as if leading a country had no relation to decency and was above and beyond morality. Were that the case, Italian/American Mafia boss John Gotti would have died in the White House and not in prison to show a level of logical disconnect suggestive of fairy dust with only the very personal issue of healthcare breaking through the haze and forcing Congressional Republicans to straddle a very uncomfortable fence.
Obamacare to the Republicans has never been about reform but on outright repeal, as if to erase Obama and roll back the progress made under him on behalf of America’s mainstream, from protecting the environment to curbing corporate greed. The debate over healthcare turns a searchlight on that agenda of obliterating non-white Obama’s presidency. It brings to light deep social inequities in American society with the implied corollary that Trump has failed to state in so many words despite his base-admired bluntness, that none in league with Trump have a horse in the race to better the lives of ordinary Americans who may become competition like Obama was.
Cutting Medicaid in favor of tax cuts for the rich is a nakedly miserly move associated with the privileged rich white elite that is a throwback to the bad old days before Obama. It is also a direct contrast to the modern American wealthy of both genders and all races who come into money based on talents and then generously share earned blessings with those they can help. Trump in the Oval Office embodies the rich white male miser who fits only into the extinct category of marauding conquistador destroying cultures and building empires merely by projecting a ruthless, unstoppable power to overcome because he is unfettered by morals and backed by an army that established powers commissioned to support a venture successfully pitched to them.
Securing the White House keys seems to have unleashed the Trump drive to fulfill his full potential for capitalizing on his trademark skill-set to maximize profit for as long as the opportunity lasts. That is evident in his presumptive air of having taxpayers foot the bill for his obscenely lavish Oval Office lifestyle despite his boasts that he is so wealthy he is beholden to no donors as other politicians are. In the Oval Office, Trump is an extinct white-male relic seated by alienated whites and kept there by white Republican enablers fighting tooth and nail to retain privilege.
The level of Congressional Republican Trump enabling attests to the magnitude of the task in overturning two-millennia-plus of exclusive white power. The enabling is largely passive, letting Trump take his full measure of liberties in lining his pockets and trampling the Constitution as he romps through his presidency like he did as host of The Apprentice reality show where he fired people with relish to skirt the truth exposed in the White House limelight that he is a real-life coward whose bodyguard or son-in-law has to do the firing for him. Republican enablers clinging to white-male-primacy at all costs are shameless in applauding Trump as he plays at being president, brandishing pen and waiting for servants to deliver a health care bill he can sign in a gala Rose Garden event where he also photo-ops himself as Commander-in-Chief of America’s mighty armed forces and character-assassinates those deemed disloyal regardless of the fact that one-way loyalty is despotism, not trust. In fact, Republicans enable the utmost outrages from Trump because they themselves are lost white men on the verge of extinction in a global world and Trump has the back of the white American heartland that has no interest in a world bigger than already familiar.
That base is an important part of American society but it is not the entirety and it would not hurt that part to stretch a bit and connect with the American mainstream, the coastal elites and the global world beyond the American shores. They may then see that Trump may seem a refreshing outspoken hero in a politically jaded America, but in reality he is a small-town playground bully in a global big-city gang ‘hood where leaders have graduated to legitimate venues. A broader vista may clear Trump fairy dust from eyes to show him obviously uncomfortable with peer world leaders, eager to rumble with small-time despots like Jung-Un of North Korea and definitely enthralled with Russia’s prominent despot, possibly because the business guru is indebted to Russia or because Trump the would-be leader emulates Putin and envies his ability to make opposition “disappear” because there is no nosy free press to ferret out facts.
A certain portion of the base will undoubtedly cling to Trump and the right-wing media backing his view of reality, but others will be unable to keep denying that Trump in the Oval Office is banging symbolic horns against the paddock fence of America’s checks and balances, that he is a 16th century Machiavelli updated to the age of the electronic superhighway who has taken even conservative Republicans further back than they intended in merely taking the Trump opportunity to erase Obama. They will see that Trump tweets have created a superhighway speed demon weaving so recklessly through traffic that other drivers pull over to calm and process what happened. In essence, Trump is an American adrenalin rush that has the whole world reeling, baffled by how Americans can be taken in by an obvious defrauding liar who touts a “Made in America” theme while having his goods made overseas and who cracks down on illegal alien workers while he hires them on his Florida golf courses. And many of the logical and less rabid Trump base must start to question why neither the right-wing nor establishment media asks Trump the blunt question of where he intends to get his cheap labor once he deports all those he now exploits.
America, the land of opportunity, has again made history with its courage in breaking ground across the pendulum swing of one-step forward and two steps back toward an equitable global world still dominated by white men clinging to exclusive power. As the epitome of that obsolete white male power structure complete with white women hangers-on, Trump has brought a farce into the White House where conservative white enablers endure trivial lies about popularity while authoritarian China makes trade deals with the European Union for jobs that Trump claimed he would bring back to America while also threatening China with trade sanctions if China did not do his bidding on North Korea. Likewise, trusty ally Japan hedges its bets about Trump-led America by finding new partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership from which Trump withdrew America. Those are just two examples of the world moving on while Trump acolytes play a brutal version of Survivor in the White House.
The difference between the Trump White House and America under Obama is best summed up by personal experience. In the early Trump days when the Fifth Avenue Trump Tower was newly opened, the glitzy Trump offices were mirror-lined to afford leader Trump with a view of all his domain. The hallmark of that workplace was dry mouth and bad breath, a sign of indigestion as staff and associates walked in to work each day prepared for a pink slip on the desk with no clue about why or who was involved in the firing.
By contrast near the same time, the United Nations was a healthy mayhem of bonding as people of all cultures the world over performed the same jobs with varying skill levels. Tensions, pressures and rivalries abounded galore, as did intrigues and back-stabbing. But the solution to handling hostilities was by forming alliances, the direct opposite of the Trump method of alienating, isolating and befogging support staff and keeping them on their toes by selling himself as the grand wizard of the great white male WIN by outfoxing the establishment white-shoe BIG-SHOTS.
Donald Trump is the mythical American lonesome cowboy who has captured the imagination and loyalty of the lost American rust belt cut off from the larger world. That accomplishment is to his credit, but a history of huckstering, leveraging interests, skirting laws and selling losing schemes suggests that Trump is a menace in the Oval Office since, as the saying goes, a silk purse can’t be made from a sow’s ear. Legal cautions must be exercised, of course. Investigations into Trump activities must not force Americans to stoop to fraudster Trump levels But since Trump is obviously a formidable person with no scruples or respect for either persons or the law, those pursuing the American staple of honest integrity in a global world may take a cue from the words of Nobel laureate Bob Dylan. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Two millennia-plus of a white male monopoly on global power will not be unseated overnight and with the rules presently prevailing, white men will need to bolster the inroads of non-white males like Barack Obama, the non-male whites like Hillary Clinton and the outspoken non-white establishment negotiators like Cory Booker and Maxine Waters. Those heroic maverick white men seem scarce in a Trump-dominated America, but they do exist in the likes of integrity-rich John McCain and stellar Bob Mueller. They are the powerful white men capable of sharing the future, both that of America and the world, instead of ruthlessly, pathetically and hopelessly hogging it.
s a historically-based fact today and far from all white men exploiting or advancing it, plenty of rich white men like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates devote their fortified resources to advancing the standing of all humanity. Trump and the Republicans controlling Congress at present are not of that category. They are the rich who are jealous of their wealth and privilege, who don’t want poor people to advance to become possible future competitors. They are the ones who quietly endorse the Republican plan to cut medical assistance to the poor who don’t matter i their world. They are the status quo establishment members of the white old-boy’s network accepting Trump as useful tool they would not welcome as a member of their circle.
Trump, the high-powered media hungry bully, may have captured the American presidency in 2017 America on a technicality but he does not play well on the global stage. He is a small town schoolyard bully transported to a big-city world of gang warfare. He falls for the taunts of lesser thugs and grovels to those more practiced while totally uneasy with the true global leaders stumped at how the beacon of democracy could have elected him as its leader. The answer to that large question lies in the same principle that operates in a small schoolyard.
Trump is a social misfit clever enough to have won the support of followers satisfied with vicarious strength through him in a world where they can never hope to gain anything better. He vindicates all those grown-up adolescents who never got to the prom and those schoolhouse bad boys pulling pigtails for attention. In an adult global world, he is a dinosaur and caricature of the white male privilege destined for extinction in a global world.
The legitimacy of Trump as America’s president is unquestioned in the mainstream media however Trump bashes any investigation into foreign meddling in the election. Aside from that questionable legitimacy in some minds, Trump’s execution of his mighty powers raises serious questions about his readiness to assume his position. He plays at being President, signing executive orders with a flourish and hosting Heads of State in the Rose Garden while ignoring the mainstream media he beckons at his pleasure. He presumes that taxpayers will fund his extravagant lifestyle and seems blithe in his role, as if failure was merely another bankruptcy in his march to greatness in history, whether with a war while he’s in office or as the global magnate ever should he be forced out before accomplishing the wartime historic high. And even if investigations into Constitutional violations should result in a truncated Trump presidency, the goals of both Trump the businessman and the conservative Republicans would have been advanced.
Trump the business mogul who seems a Bernie Madoff on steroids, is occupying the Oval Office for a dual purpose, first to enrich himself at maximum capability and second to reap the rewards of adulation and explosive splash. Should he leave the country in a shambles as happened with his casinos, he would have helped his Republican enablers save the white male power status quo and keep all others in their place.
Luckily for progressives, the rest of the world is on their side and geopolitics bears that out. Europe has learned from two millennia of strife over global power including through periods of colonizations still resonating in global tensions while Russia has learned the opposite lesson and has aligned with Trump as its easy mark in a game of one-upmanship for winning a p-ss fight between two bullies. China meanwhile, advances its own progress by peacefully aligning over basic economics with Europe, Asia and Africa while its people agitate for social progress via global contact through the internet even as the Arabic countries strive to stifle freedom and progress, thus giving rise to a terrorist movement directed against the outside Westerners just as antiquated as they are.
Any snapshot from the Trump presidential album demonstrates just how antiquated is the uber-white male mode of governing. His cabinet photos could just as well be a portrait of the pilgrim fathers and his portraits with the First Lady are recreations of the stiff farming couple in Grant’s American Gothic. It’s all male testosterone in a global world where half the population is female and where the majority is non-white and where the majority is comfortable with change.
First hand experience with the Trump Organization in the mid-1980’s portended the chaos that the Trump style of rule would inflict on the country and the world. The mirrored thirty-eighth floor of the Trump Tower afforded the boss in his central office an opportunity to surveil all those under him. The hallmark of that lavish new place needing constant repair due to shoddy construction and economical supply requisition was bad breath and dry mouth among staff. No one knew on which day they would walk in to work and find a pink slip on their desk without notice.
Contrast that scenario with a snapshot of the United Nations press office
disconnect between Trump the leader and their presumably civilized values.
Two-fifths of America were thus duped by Trump’s well-honed hustling skills but that support has dwindled to one-third under all the ugliness and broken promises within six months. Three-fifths of America were never taken in by Trump’s crude power ploys, and neither was the rest of the world, including their leaders. Therein lies the clue to America regaining its position as leader of the free world in a modern global age.
The army of those immune to Trump’s trumpet-calls for misogyny, racism, xenophobia and just plain overall fear is swelling as the base becomes disillusioned with the real threat that they may lose the basic right of staying alive. The vestigial traits that Trump rouses in his base are coming to light and stripped of their power as reality sets in. The loss of affordable health care, however imperfect in light of the fierce opposition that white conservative Republicans put up against non-white Obama’s pro-people initiative, is on the verge of being wrested from those who need it due to the conservative determination to stamp out all things Obama and the progress made as if neither had ever existed. The global world, however, is on the side of progress against despots and it will rescue America from the malady of Uber-white Trump fever.
America is safe and on an even keel with its Constitutional system of checks and balances. Trump may rape the country as Republicans enable him to do so in their commitment to maintaining the white-male dominated global status quo. That complex may be buttressed by the Trump core base who have conservative votes as their bargaining chip. But the rainbow of the world’s little people who are now the economic and social majority will unseat the human dinosaurs and will amend the Constitution to prevent abuses by future con-men.