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Hope and Fear in America

He is, and there was never any doubt that he would be, the chaos president. Six months in, and those of us who warned that the ‘system’ would struggle to keep him in line have been proven right. How is a man like this still in the White House? Yet, the push-back from the press, the courts, the Democrats, and the people, has been effective in putting Trump on notice. They’re telling him that he’s not going to end democracy in the US without facing a determined resistance on many fronts. He is not going to have it all his own way; supporters of democratic politics will not give up the ghost.

He is looking to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His animal cunning tells him that if he does this, he can kill off the Russian investigations with one fell swoop. There are varying interpretations on this. There is the view that the political cost of doing this is just too high. Lindsay Graham has already set this down as a red line. Trump is reckless and a gambler though and may just decide to roll the dice on this one. He needs Sessions out, and a new Attorney General to do this. His mission is to break the constitution as most Americans would hold it. The notion of a president pardoning themselves would have seemed ridiculous only a few short months ago. Now it is a distinct possibility. What strange times we live in.

Trump’s made up on the hoof twitter policy on transsexuals serving in the military was cruel and probably illegal. He thinks he’s playing to his base on this one. But many in the military have reacted with a sense that this goes against all notions of fairness. The Donald, a noted draft dodger, is saying he doesn’t want the service of those prepared to die for their country. The army seems not to have been consulted on this, at least at an official level. More lies coming straight from the Oval Office; what do you expect from a con man?

His attacks on the media are extremely dangerous. No media organisation is perfect but it is their job to hold politicians to account in a truly fair and balanced way, not to act as cheerleaders or deny the truth as it appears before their very eyes. This attack on facts works two ways. We may reach a stage sooner rather than later where Trump has so gutted government departments and appointed place men and women –the EPA may be there already – that official information can no longer be trusted as reliable. George Orwell would understand this all too well.

Back to that base. Sadly, it became clear fairly quickly that if Trump has a solid support level of 35-40% prepared to believe anything he says, and who value culture over economics, he will not be encouraged to be normal. He is temperamentally unsuited anyway, but as long as he can fill or half-fill a stadium or a school-hall, he is not going to change. Trump may have contempt for these people. He is happy to keep using them. They’re not all bad. But there are millions of deplorables who are. The Commander-in-Chief is happy to throw them the red meat of bathroom and Muslim bans, as long as he can make himself and his pals even richer. But they –his base – are adults. They are given one of the few duties of a citizen in a republic – a vote – and they blew it. It is very hard to feel that sorry for them; they have brought this on themselves.

Yet, there is more optimism than in January. Court challenges have succeeded; the mindless scrapping of Obama Care has been resisted, for now. The investigation into the Trump family, and their financial links with Russia and Putin, continues. A tough sanctions bill has been passed by Congress. Some Republicans – a few – are beginning to put their necks out of their shells after swallowing Trump’s authoritarianism for a seat or seats on the Supreme Court./ The press is relentless in covering his constant twists and turns, the soap opera that his administration has become, the collapse of American prestige throughout the world.

This has been a terrible, draining, nightmare of six months though. As has been remarked over and over; what will Trump do during a real crisis? Europeans at large look over and wonder how much longer the chaos can go on. Something died in November 2016, and that’s not hyperbole to say so. But there’s also the chance to resist and rebuild, to truly take back control from Trump and his barbarians, and really make the idea of an America that President Obama espoused and believed in, great again. It can and must be done.

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