2017 will be remembered as the year of “This is not normal.”
A minority of Americans, thanks to the antiquated relic of an electoral college system that remains in our Constitution as a vestige of slavery more than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, elected an insecure man-child conspiracy theorist, reality TV actor, Twitter troll, grifter and con man president of the United States. A man who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder and delusions of grandeur, and who is a pathological liar. The 47 most outrageous lines in Donald Trump’s New York Times interview;
In a 30-minute interview, President Trump made 24 false or misleading claims. More ominously, he exhibits dangerous authoritarian tendencies. Donald Trump is a demagogue who aspires to be an autocratic strongman like the man he most admires, Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Trump has actively sought to undermine our democratic institutions, political norms and values that have defined America for more than 240 years and to replace them overnight — to “disrupt the status quo” as he calls it — with the crypto-fascism of “Trumpism,” an authoritarian cult of personality.
Trump has been enabled in his undermining of our democratic institutions, political norms and values by a supplicant Tea-Publican Congress which also exhibits authoritarian tendencies in its exercise of one-party rule, and by a fawning propagandist conservative media entertainment complex, and too often, by a cowered mainstream media.
Trump is enabled by a small but significant base of adoring sycophant supporters in his authoritarian cult of personality. For them, he can do no wrong. Their loyalty is to Trump alone, not to the country, not to democratic governance, not to the Constitution. Trump is what metastasized from an existing cancer in the American body politic.
“This is not normal.”
The Trump era represents an existential threat to our democratic Republic and all that we hold dear as Americans. It is time for American patriots to rise up and to come to the aid and defense of our country, and of our Constitution.
2018 must be a year of reckoning, a coming to terms with what Americans have inflicted upon themselves in recent years through their own indifference and neglect of our democratic institutions, political norms and values. Too many Americans have failed their basic civic duty as a citizen to participate in our democratic system of governance. Too many Americans have failed to do the bare minimum required of a citizen by failing to vote. Democracy is not a spectator sport, it requires your active participation.
There must be a resistance to the creeping fascism of “Trumpism.” We must not go quietly or submissively into the darkness descending, we must and we will resist and “rage against the dying of the light,” to paraphrase Dylan Thomas. We will defend our country, our Constitution and our American values against this rot from within.
There must be a renewal of Americans’ faith and commitment to long-cherished democratic institutions, political norms and values that define us as Americans: a restoration of our nation, if you will.
Warren G. Harding ran for president after the end of World War I, the most destructive war in the history of mankind at the time, on the theme of “a return to normalcy” in 1920. Harding’s promise was backwards looking, a nostalgic longing to return the United States to its prewar mentality of isolationism and nationalism in a world that no longer existed after it had been swept away by the carnage of World War I and the U.S. had emerged as a major world power. (This nostalgic longing for isolationism and nationalism is a key component of the white nationalism of Stephen Bannon and “Trumpism.”)
We should reject Harding’s framing, of course, but this notion of “a return to normalcy” has a powerful appeal after Donald Trump and the exhausting disorientation caused by the chaos theory of “Trumpism.”
I would define this “return to normalcy” as a forward looking renewal of our faith and commitment to long-cherished democratic institutions, political norms and values that define us as Americans.
The preamble to our Constitution begins, “WE the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union …” America is always a work in progress, always looking with optimism to the future, always striving to achieve perfection. As President Barack Obama said, we must “continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.” Americans strive to achieve our highest ideals, not to turn away from them or to reject them as the personality cult of “Trumpism” does.
It is not too much to demand that our president behave like a normal president. It is not too much to demand that our president not be a pathological liar who cannot differentiate between fact and fiction (“fake news”). It is not too much to demand that our president not assault and undermine our democratic institutions, political norms and values. It is not too much to demand that our president not engage in the childish behavior of a daily Twitter rage against anyone whom he feels threatened by or wants to insult. Donald Trump, however, is mentally and emotionally incapable of doing this, on this we can all agree.
It is not too much to demand that our politicians behave like normal politicians — a commitment to democratic procedural norms and bipartisan political compromise for the betterment of all Americans — not the ideological abuse of power personified by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose policy of total obstruction under president Obama has given way to the full fruition of his authoritarianism, rewriting the rules of the Senate and disregarding the Constitution in order to get his way by any means necessary.
Nor the ideological abuse of power personified by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who takes a perverse pleasure in denying millions of Americans access to health care, and whose dream it is to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, so that he can redistribute even more wealth from disadvantaged Americans to his wealthy benefactors, the plutocratic campaign donors of the GOP, as we recently witnessed with the deeply unpopular GOP tax bill.
It is not too much to demand that the media behave like a normal media and fulfill its constitutional role as “the watchdog of democracy” by holding Donald Trump and his enablers accountable for their words and deeds, and to call them out for their lies and abuses of power. The media should not serve as a propaganda arm of the GOP and of Donald Trump, as the conservative media entertainment complex does, and too frequently is parroted in the mainstream media. The media have a moral obligation and a civic duty not to normalize what is clearly not normal behavior and thereby gradually erode and diminish our democratic institutions, political norms and values, and our very sense of decency.
Donald Trump will not be on the ballot in 2018, but “Trumpism,” an authoritarian cult of personality, will be on the ballot, represented by those who support and defend Donald Trump. 2018 is a referendum on “Trumpism” and Trump’s enablers. They must be removed from elected positions of power at every level of government, from local school boards and city councils to the halls of Congress.
Americans have a stark choice to make in 2018 of what kind of country we want to be: the vibrant democratic Republic that our Founding Fathers left to us, or surrender to despair and the creeping fascism of “Trumpism,” and replace our democratic Republic with an authoritarian autocracy.
For true American patriots, this stark choice is an easy choice to make. We will defend our democratic Republic and our Constitution.
Turn your anger into action. Run for an elective office. Do not allow a Tea-Publican in elective office to run unopposed for election. Make your case to the voters and give the voters a clear choice on election day.
Volunteer your time and energy on the campaign of your choice. If you have no time available, then give financially what you can afford to the campaign of your choice.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, call into talk radio programs, and engage your contacts on social media. Take to the streets and march for a cause you support. Speak up and make yourself heard.
It is time for American patriots to rise up and to come to the aid and defense of our country, and of our Constitution.
Let’s make 2018 a happy new year.