The American voting public during the Republic’s history has delighted itself upon the thought that an average citizen of reasonable intelligence can rise to the fore and serve a great nation dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Nothing, of course, can be further from the truth.
Our history, indeed, is replete with the election of fools to the highest office in our land. The notable exceptions being perhaps the first four or five presidents and maybe two or three more during the run of the Republic.
Many of them have had connections and wealth. None have been from the lower class. None of them are the “great unwashed.”
So, we have more often than not elected gas bags and fools – father figure fools to replace the King in all but name. It appears we crave these fools – just so long as they entertain us and give lip service to the democratic principles we claim we uphold but in reality abhor. Free speech is okay for us – just not for anyone who disagrees with us. A life free to pursue liberty and happiness is a fine thing for us – just not for those other people.
Christian charity is a wonderful thing – as long as they are our brand of Christian and charity means nodding our heads up and down in Sunday service and nothing more.
Today partisans on both sides are engaged in a divisive fight over the soul of a country absent of soul and dominated by the posturing of a narcissistic leader whose sole intent seems to be the acquisition of personal wealth and personal praise to the point of fealty.
Donald Trump is but the latest in a long line of charlatans who’ve taken over the first chair in the national orchestra and can neither play the instrument of government nor has any inclination to do so.
Trump, perhaps in his genius, is merely more demonstrative, bellicose and brazen with displaying the despotic desires harbored by past presidents and many of those who voted for him. He makes no attempt to placate anyone. He runs his administration as if it’s an episode of “The Apprentice,” and has seen more people fired or quit on his staff than any other president at this point in his administration. Still, he is perhaps the most refreshing pomposity to defile the presidency in my lifetime.
Trump wants to be remembered in superlative terms. He already is assured a place in the annals of history as the most divisive, dishonest man ever to be president.
And that says a lot. Every president has lied to us, but none have done it on the scale of Donald Trump.
Former President Barack Obama, on the other hand, was a man intent on telling us in measured reasonable tones how much he supported the nation, while at the same time arranging to jail whistleblowers.
Former President George W. Bush couldn’t pass a high school history course. Bill Clinton embarrassed his wife and couldn’t define the word “is.” George H. W. Bush was known as a “mean-spirited wimp” while Ronald Reagan’s legacy includes telling us all that ketchup is a vegetable. Jimmy Carter, known as perhaps the most decent Christian ever to inhabit the office, was nonetheless so incompetent he couldn’t find five helicopters in the U.S. military that could work on a rescue mission to liberate Iranian hostages. Ford was a bumbling fool who is best known for pardoning Richard Nixon and printing “W.I.N.” buttons (Whip Inflation Now). Nixon was a cancer stain on the presidency, Lyndon Johnson was corrupt, Kennedy a womanizer and so we continue back into the bowels of our republic finding rubes like Hoover, Harding and Grant. “Whatever was palpably untrue convinced him immediately and whatever was crooked seemed to him to be noble,” it was said of Grant.
Of Hoover and the others of his day, H.L. Mencken said, “If medical men were as generally incompetent and fraudulent as these busted wizards, then all of us would be down with small pox, cholera and yellow fever.”
Today we are infected by a cancer of rancor fueled by our president and the rantings of so-called Christians that is being fought by an equally cancerous infection of callow liberal elitists who think they “know better.”
The primordial ooze in which these infections dwell is the Internet. In the cancerous cells of social media is where rancor reigns, true thought is stymied and the echo chambers from everyone’s tribal, philosophical cul-de-sac reverb intently in our ears drowning out any attempt at rational thought. In this atmosphere the president can tweet his propaganda at length to those who listen while those who belittle him spread his excrement while they denounce it.
Real thought? It is long gone. Any pretense of logic is out the window. It is those at the far end who hold sway. Their passion is righteous and the passion of others is merely anger at being served up justice. Determination is considered hatred unless it is determination for “our cause.”
To criticize the actions of the administration as a reporter has become equal to siding with the opponent – both Trump’s friends and his estimable foes make this false assumption.
The calls of “Drain the Swamp” sounded like fetid sewage to some, but it resonated deeply among those of the working class who instinctively understand there’s something wrong with the way the government operates even if they do not know exactly what it is that is wrong.
Every American goes to sleep at night after indoctrination through our public and private schools understanding that America is free – overlooking the plain fact that the poor, people of color and the coal miner in Kentucky is not. We are taught there is equality before the law, but we all know about “pay justice,” and how the color of your skin can determine whether or not you get shot by a police officer.
We are taught through the story of the Pilgrims about religious toleration in the U.S. when no such thing exists or has ever existed.
It is true that millions of Americans, far from “being free and tolerant men, are the slaves of an ignorant, impudent and unconscionable clergy,” Mencken noted.
Because of this, we are ready, willing and able to surrender ourselves to the first sideshow barker that travels through town with a cure-all remedy for the national ailment of which we’re guilty of infecting ourselves.
Trump is but the latest in the line of clowns dressed up as savior to entice others to follow them down a rabbit hole of danger, ignoring facts and playing to the screaming rabble.
Somehow America has always emerged from the rabbit hole stronger. Perhaps we will, yet again.
But if history teaches us anything it teaches us there is no mythical savior. There is just all of us. Together. Working and living together. We can make the difference.
Tolerance in this country is long in theory and short in reality.
Trump, if nothing else, stripped away the thin layer of civility covering the pus-ridden stench of a flesh eating virus threatening to consume the body politic that is intolerance.
Trump has never been an aberration of the American psyche. He is the full embodiment of the lies, dreams, hopes and fears that have steered the nation.
Our country, originally rose democratically as farmers and city dwellers, first in Massachusetts and later in the other 12 colonies, came together and demanded to govern themselves.
Our Founding Fathers were intent on a Republic because they did not trust the gentry. But our founders were those who rose up spontaneously to defend their rights to peacefully assemble and to speak their mind. Our founders were far more inclined to a very pure form of Democracy.
Either type of government demands participation so the vocal minority or the extremist with questionable motives does not take over the system.
The American Republic thus has always got the government it deserves directly related to the number of people involved with the average education of those participating factored into the process.
Or another way of thinking about it is: Garbage In. Garbage out.
That’s the American way.
President Donald Trump may not lead the way from this trap, but he certainly should be credited for exposing it for what it is by merely being the most obvious trap we’ve ever seen.