Following the day’s political news in Donald Trump’s America is an exhausting affair. Every week that you think we’ve hit rock bottom as a country, Trump and others find new, inventive ways to disgrace the nation and humanity. The past seven days have been particularly awful, making you wonder where this country is headed.
The president’s racist inclinations were on full, divisive display this week, starting with his attacks on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. There are times that Trump has stoked white racial animus in order to rally his base or distract from some other more damaging controversy. There may have been some effort to redirect attention away from Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act again, but the ferocity and obsession Trump showed with his nonstop tweets this week made clear how much joy he takes in attack black people.
We’ve known for some time that Trump is a repugnant racist, but the amount to which he is further inflaming racial divisions in this country is disheartening and deeply dangerous. America’s incredible diversity can either be its greatest strength or biggest weakness for its longterm stability and competitiveness in the world. Trump seems determined to undermine the American spirit just to satiate his hatred of black and brown people.
The rest of the Republican Party is starting to catch on as well. They seem much less troubled about turning their history of racist dog whistles into bullhorn-blaring attacks that leave no room for nuance. Governor Kim Reynolds’ embrace of Trump’s messaging on the NFL protests showed that Iowa Republicans may be heading in a new, more bluntly racist direction in their future campaigns.
Trump’s racism also continues to have a terrible impact on the suffering of people in Puerto Rico. Looking to avoid a Katrina-like moment during earlier this year, Trump diligently showcased the government’s efforts to prepare for Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. But when it came to a place with mostly people of Hispanic heritage, Trump didn’t seem to care too much.
The President is probably too stupid to realize that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and he likely has no concept of what an American territory is, anyway. So it’s no wonder he spent most of his week attacking black NFL players instead of concentrating on one of the worst disasters to ever hit Puerto Rico. And when he started getting criticized about his handling of recovery efforts there, Trump cast the local workers as lazy.
In reality, the one and only thing that has saved American democracy from suffering even worse is Trump and his administration’s own incompetence and smallness. Trump cares only about himself and how people see him. He may be a racist and an authoritarian, but he doesn’t seem to adhere to any particular dictatorial or white supremacist ideology – his actions are driven by his ego and little else. He would be even more dangerous if his worldview was actually rooted in an actual fascist ideology. That might lead him to carry out actual, thought-out proactive steps to undermine democratic institutions, instead of bumbling into them by his reactive nature.
Which brings us to the real looming threat to America’s future: people like Roy Moore, the racist scumbag who won a Republican primary for the Alabama Senate special election, and will likely soon be a U.S. Senator. Moore’s views and actions are actually set in an ideology he believes in, a backwards theological one that twists Christianity in a disgusting way. Moore thinks that homosexuality should be outlawed, that Muslims shouldn’t be able to serve in public office and blamed 9/11 on America not embracing his particular form of religion. Alabama may be a deep red state, but electing a guy who thinks that gay people should be thrown in prison is just inexcusable in any situation.
But one day after Trump’s presidency, Republican presidential candidates may include people like Moore. People that not only hold disgusting, bigoted views on society, but who also specifically want to impose that on the rest of the world. Obviously, on a simple moral level, both Trump’s and Moore’s bigotry are pretty equally reprehensible. The problem is one of how more effectively a bigot could turn their hatred into policy if they had an underlying plan.
Imagine if Trump’s administration wasn’t filled with incompetent advisers. Or what the president could do if he had been planning for years how he could wreck democratic practices and concentrate more power into the executive branch. Republican voters have proven this year and last that they are willing to back whoever is the most extreme and outrageous in primaries, so a future president could very well be even worse.
And there would be people ready to carry out those very un-American ideologies. A minor moment on political Twitter this week showcased how anti-semitism is being ever more tolerated in conservative and Republican circles. “Journalists” at the Daily Caller, an increasingly influential “news” outlet on the far right, posted a video they made of New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, a Jew, saying “chutzpah” with the Hava Nagila song playing in the background. It was just weird, and the only point of it is to mock a Jewish person for being Jewish… or something. It’s difficult to get in the minds of these bigots. But were Nazism ever to make a comeback, you have to imagine these Daily Caller people are the kind of folks who’d happily sign right up.
And all of this is to say nothing of Tom Price, who resigned as HHS secretary this week after blatantly wasting taxpayer dollars on private planes. Or Iowa Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix basically admitting that he doesn’t give a shit about sexual harassment. Or Trump continuing to risk an utterly needless war with North Korea.
Every situation this week was simply a sign that so many things that were once intolerable in American politics and society are quickly becoming an acceptable norm for a large number of Americans. And there’s been noting to indicate that this trend is going to reverse anytime soon. The question is just how bad it’ll get, and whether politicians with truly despicable un-American ideologies continue to rise into positions of power – and how effective they’ll soon be in carrying out their worldview.
by Pat Rynard