Trump’s Legacy: Lowering the Bar

Trump & Co. Have Set Pernicious Precedents for Everything

Donald Trump Cabinet meeting 2017-03-13 02
There’s a unique requirement for appearing in this family photo: blind loyalty to Donald Trump.

As President Donald Trump fades, kicking and screaming, into history Americans are wondering what to expect of a post-Trump world. Today the United States looks nothing like the country he took over in 2017. It’s more cynical and more dumber than ever before. It lags behind its most important world adversaries in education, infrastructures, manufacturing, and morals. In fact, it’s behind in virtually everything but its war contraptions and predatory mindset, it’s steel circle of military bases around the world and it’s penchant for interfering in the affairs of other people’s countries. The United States has even slipped behind in leading-edge technology, its traditional strong suit.

Yes, those who follow Trump can undo some of the damage he and his cohorts have done over the past four years, but much of it is irrecoverable. We must not forget his campaign promise–to dismantle the backbone of the United States government, placing all its competencies and vital decisions in the hands of private enterprise and faith-based organizations. Otherwise, how does one explain the choice of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education? Or his naming of the colorful prosperity-gospel televangelist, his personal spirtual advisor, Paula White, as chair of his “evangelical advisory board.”

Trump Goes, Trumpism Stays

The seriousness of Trump’s privatize-and-degrade dynamic is such that, once installed in governmental protocols, it’s hard to get rid of. What starts out seeming scandalous and disproportionate to normal citizens , with time becomes traditional, accepted by large swaths of the population. For coming generations much of Trump & Co.’s tawdry ideology will assume the guise of precedents with the apparent legitimacy that entails.

It’s important to distinguish between Trump and Trumpism. Trump may go (though it’s not clear when) but the sordid seeds he has planted in the American body politic have put vigorous roots down into a substrate of dishonesty, ignorance and arrogance, unlimited opportunism, inhumane values, and government in league with voodoo religion. They will not be easy to uproot, especially if another right-wing populist president comes along who’s even smarter than Donald Trump.

By that time the Trump way of doing things will be considered business as usual in Washington, just as targeted drone assassinations, once considered too horrendous even to consider, have become commonplace today. Americans–excepting the most persnickety of them–will not be shocked by holders of high office who murder, lie, contract unqualified family members, embrace America’s seediest adversaries, cheerlead assaults on the nation’s Capitol and take advantage of high office to feather their nests. Future generations of Americans may come to consider those aberrations simply innovative governance or genial shortcuts to hillbilly heaven.

It Depends on Where You Stand

There are widely-varying standpoints on the subject of Donald Trump’s atypical presidency; the indulgent, ultra-patriotic view from his simple-minded followers; the rage of the rest of Americans, who let him get away with it all; and the cooler, more objective approach when seen from abroad. The unconditional loyalty of Trump’s hardcore followers is hard to explain to non-initiates. It hits the same buttons as miracle religion and the serial-killer’s mother’s love. It’s faith based, a valuable asset in a country where faith works wierd wonders.

Not all members of the Trump tribe are morons. Then how do you explain the Trumpeteers who are practically normal? It might have to do with their profound dissatisfaction with the unfair, tilted field that most Americans are obliged to play on. They’ve been told for their whole lives that this is the exceptional, individualist “American way of life,” the envy of the world. But not many of them have ever been anyplace else so as to be able to compare. In any case, though the quasi-normal Trump followers may not know how to explain their malaise, they’re sure they’re tired of it.

The Trump Follies Seen from Abroad

Foreigners are not emotionally involved in America’s problems. Most of them live in countries where everyone’s children attend good public schools and receive quality free or inexpensive education through university. They’re relatively certain their kids are not going to be caught in a crossfire at school or while coming and going. Virtually all of these foreigners work and receive fair pay in humane conditions and are supported by labor unions. If they have illness or accidents they just go to the hospital, knowing they won’t have to mortgage their houses to pay the bills. In fact, there are no bills.

If they are afflicted with serious chronic illness or disability they know they will be taken care of. They trust their elected representatives to do their best to keep their campaign promises. All countries of the European Union, and many others, enjoy a minimum month’s annual vacation. Americans get 10 days.

These citizens are not directly affected by the goings on in the United States, but they could be–at the press of a button. For now, more than anything else they are profoundly perplexed. America is nothing like their own countries and they have trouble relating to its brash facade and cruel and unusual customs. They lack the advantage of lifelong conditioning and Kool-Aid consumption. They will probably never understand America’s seemingly alien society.

The Recuperation of the Republican Party

At the beginning of the Trump presidency the vast majority of Republican Party members rallied round him, even if a few of them had to hold their noses. There were some exceptions, such as Mike Pence who at first shunned the crass New York real-estate operator as the Republican presidential candidate but later figured out which side his bread was buttered on and slipped back into the fold. He was to become one of President Trump’s most loyal followers till the bitter end on January 6, 2021, when he again thought about his future in politics.

Now that Trump’s ship is on the rocks, particularly after his enthusiastic horde assaulted the US Capitol, many Republicans are abandoning ship. After Trump’s invaders had left the Capitol or been carted off, his deceitful backout speech dripped with hypocritical slime, lacking any hint of regret or decency, just more self-serving, sociopathic cant. His capture-the-Congress gambit had failed and he needed to cover his retreat with counterfeit sincerity.

The Only Way Out of the Swamp

Though the idea is much bandied about, Washington DC is no longer a swamp. A swamp has a harmony about it. There’s a natural cycle of birth and death, beauty and balance. The location of the new nation’s capital in the Washington swamp was chosen by the United States’s first President in 1790. Little by little that natural habitat was perverted by politicians ruling for themselves. Today opportunism and bad faith rule. Hypocrisy has replaced beauty in the swamp and privilege has trumped balance. The only way out of that degenerate ecosystem is through an educated electorate but, given Americas’s ever-declining education system, that will probably not happen.

President Donald Trump’s great luck was that the mediocrity of his own mind and values meshed nicely with that of enough of his countrymen to get him elected President. Once in office he limited himself to promoting a retrograde agenda that pandered to a simple-minded electorate. His legislative henchmen razed the American government like devilish wrecking balls while he thrived on junk food and golf. It’s remarkable how far back the Trump government took the country in four short years. Nor are his critics free of responsibility. They never should have lost sight of the fact that Donald Trump didn’t create America. America created Donald Trump, and just getting rid of him doesn’t cure the rest.

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Author: Michael Booth

Michael Booth, the creator of TrumpAndAllTheRest.com, is a US-born publicist, author and online publisher who has lived in a Spanish village in the foothills of Sierra Nevada for the past five decades. Though better known abroad for his fine-art printmaking sites and online magazine, Booth's day job for the past decade and a half, until recently, was his communications agency, dedicated principally to designing and implementing Internet strategies for Spanish companies and institutions. It took him a long time to get out of publicity and into writing but it was worth the wait.

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