Quotes: “Solving problems isn’t our line.” (Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven); ”
In the news: Trump is Staking Out His Own Universe of Alternative Facts (Thomas Edsall, The New York Times, 5.14.20)
In context: Anyone who has ever fallen in love with a macho man knew already how to read beneath the surface. Some under-layer in the tough guy fused a bond stronger than superglue. That love affair between Donald Trump and his base leaves America in the position of the concerned other needing to stage an intervention in a toxic affair.
The romance was off kilter from the start. The flashy Trump with a shady past was courting salt-of-the earth Mid-westerners desperate for a hero to save them from an unsettling new world. A non-white president Obama with progressive ideas had destroyed jobs with regulations on industry. The social fabric was unraveling with permissiveness. Trump the tough guy was going to fix all that.
City folks throughout the country recognized the hustle but the more trusting took a chance on the glib Trump delivery. Bad behavior was a negligible foible compared to the steely resolve he exerted on their behalf. The love-struck loyalty hardened for three years as concerned others raised alarms. To the love-lorn Trumpers, enemies were out to take down their heroic protector. Then the global Coronavirus pandemic struck and the first sliver of doubt crept in about the hero.
The knight in shining armor, the leader of the pack, exposed his Achilles heel when a physical virus bested his superb abilities to sell, re-frame and spin. Trump allies covered for the leader who had engendered such loyalty in captives, drowning out the cries of concerned others about incompetence. They stood firm as Trump made a public fool of himself when in company of experts over the virus. Even the George Floyd debacle followed by riots and a failed Trump photo-op failed to shake an admission of disaster from Trump enablers. Concerned others saw threads of the Trump presidency leading to only to a clarification of American issues in need of urgent address. The most significant was the reality that Trump and his allies were social dinosaurs in a rapidly evolving modern world.
Donald Trump had all the mighty powers of the United States at his disposal and yet he could not bring himself to admit the most basic of simple facts. He knew nothing about the virus and he didn’t care to find out. He simply wanted it to go away. He had no experience with racial issues. His interests lay elsewhere, mainly in the stock market. He had no allies to cover for him on issues relating to race in America, and the Trump response was to illegally call out the armed forces to manage insubordination. A starter course in business management will teach a student that such an approach to prosperity is doomed to failure.
America had a great opportunity to lead the world with regard to both the pandemic and the tragic George Floyd murder. Tough guy Trump proved nothing but impotence, in both himself and the country in the eyes of the world.
Tough guy Trump may continue to be a hero to his smitten base and that may continue to influence the opportunistic allies who believe they have something to gain from the association with Trump. But an impotent leader is no way to make America great again, however often the macho man stages an event aimed to demonstrate his prowess.
All the walls that Trump can build will not keep out the global reality. The internet unites, businesses are international, climate change and pandemics create the need for human relocation. Global cooperation in managing global challenges is pivotal for development and prosperity of countries and the world as a whole. The Trump approach of walling off America from reality is as obsolete as the once-gigantic extinct dinosaurs who couldn’t adapt to a changing world.
No doubt many in the Trump base will follow their leader to the grave. Concerned others, however, far outnumber them. The great melting pot will continue to be driving force in the world, just as soon as the accidental president elected on a technicality is removed from America’s Oval Office.