Screw it. I was writing an essay that got away from me. It turned into only two half-essays, both of which, without extra work, are tubs of garbage.
So I turn to the president-elect. A reader asked me to pen my thoughts on our new leader. I have hesitated because, well, the guy gets way too much press. I didn’t want to contribute to the mess.
But he’s in my sights. I can say a million things about this character and they will all wash off. I have seen people who might be, in their real lives, perfectly decent. When it comes to discussing Donald J. Trump, however, they turn into slavering mouthpieces for what is really a national disgrace.
There’s not a one of us who aren’t sinners. But when we transgress, we suffer, if we are cognizant, the tortures of lost sleep, wincing privately in a contemplative moment, or just the weight of guilt. Donald Trump feels nothing. He stiffs his contractors, accepts subsidies from government (while preaching the glories of small government), and says he has the interests of the little man in mind.
His voters trusted him to pull government away from Wall Street and special interests, but he has lined his cabinet with Wall Street operators, corporate shills, and people steeped in special interests. He want to take health insurance from the little man, and send that little man back into a rapacious marketplace that insurance companies, big pharma, and for-profit healthcare corporations control. He will give the most radically reactionary forces in Congress and the states the opportunities to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Gone are community service block grants and basic safety net protections.
I don’t think most Trump voters banked on their Social Security and Medicare being taken from them. If so, they will find success in their new man. If not, well, the trick’s on them and they should have known better. When, exactly, did a Republican do anything for working Americans? When did Donald Trump decide to betray his class and actually support things like living wages, collective bargaining, or expansion of education, healthcare, and housing?
I don’t trust the guy. The logic is against it. A billionaire who represents the little man? Big men have looked out for the little people before. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was very rich. He was on his way to being representative of his class before polio struck him down. He met people who had no means of supporting themselves due to the disease. It was the nation’s great luck that the disease hobbled him. He was the equivalent of a billionaire today.
I wonder if DJT could be humbled. I have a friend, a physician, who points to 301.81 (F60.81) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington DC, 2013). He says that Trump suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My physician friend worked as a surgeon in Vietnam. His career of over 50 years gave him insight into the ways in which people carry moral guilt. Trump feels no moral guilt. He can jilt his business partners, use the system in ways which other can’t, and fail to pay taxes without ever thinking one minute about the morality of his actions.
To quote the manual on Narcissistic Personality Disorder is to read about Trump. From page 672 in the section on personality disorders:
The most useful feature in discriminating narcissistic personality disorder from histrionic, antisocial, and borderline personality disorders, in which the interactive styles are coquettish, callous, and needy, respectively, is the grandiosity characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder. The relative stability of self-image as well as the relative lack of self-destructiveness, impulsivity, and abandonment concerns also help distinguish narcissistic personality disorder from borderline personality disorder. Excessive pride in achievements, a relative lack of emotional display, and disdain for others’ sensitivities help distinguish narcissistic personality disorder from histrionic personality disorder. Although individuals with borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders may require much attention, those with narcissistic personality disorder specifically need that attention to be admiring. Individuals with antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders share a tendency to be tough-minded, glib, superficial, exploitative, and unempathic. However, narcissistic personality disorder does not necessarily include characteristics of impulsivity, aggression, and deceit. In addition, individuals with antisocial personality disorder may not be as needy of the admiration and envy of others, and persons with narcissistic personality disorder usually lack the history of conduct disorder in childhood or criminal behavior in adulthood. In both narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, the individual may profess a commitment to perfectionism and believe that others cannot do things as well. In contrast to the accompanying self-criticism of those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder are more likely to believe that they have achieved perfection. Suspiciousness and social withdrawal usually distinguish those with schizotypal or paranoid personality disorder from those with narcissistic personality disorder. When these qualities are present in individuals with narcissistic personality disorder, they derive primarily from fears of having imperfections or flaws revealed.
From the looks of it, we have a guy who takes up the White House mentally ill. We’ve had doozies of presidents before. One need not look far into the past to find ineptitude. George W. Bush fumbled around for nearly eight years. The office settled him some, and he did presidential things. Overall, however, his presidency gave us two wars, trillions in unaccounted-for debt, and a largely inept and dysfunctional Congress.
The presidencies of Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, U.S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Warren Harding were all well-known for their corruption and ineptitude. Each one outdid the one that came before it. What Trump is building is one of the most corrupt since Harding. He combines Nixon’s paranoia with Bush’s buckling to special interests. His cabinet represents the most unabashed bow to corporatist wealth we’ve seen since William McKinley.
Being mentally ill doesn’t disqualify anyone from being president. He has not been officially diagnosed. I am not a psychiatrist. Still, I say his mentally ill. I’ve dealt with mentally ill people and I have been to the psych ward myself. I admit that doesn’t qualify me, but I still have an opinion, and must have when considering the gravity of the office of president.
We should have some sympathy for the poor guy, and I would. You don’t treat a sick person poorly because their ill. But this guy has the football. There’s no one person or group that stands between him and the use of the bomb. The United States has 1,500 hydrogen-bomb carrying missiles on four-minute alert. That is, the president gives the order, and it all starts four minutes later. Some people have said to me, well, there are generals. But under U.S. law, the generals don’t make the decision, only the commander-in-chief.
What happens when poor Donny gets his feelings hurt?
People also say there is a difference between what he says and what he will do. This is an absurdly contradictory statement. Words matter. What he says, matters. The blizzard of angry, paranoid tweets he emits every day around 3 a.m. ought to show us what we’re in for. The guy doesn’t contemplate what he says. In fact, he’s said that he doesn’t reflect. Is that the kind of guy we want dealing with powerful foreign governments and iffy nations that possess the bomb?
All that said, I’m looking forward to the next four years for two reasons. The first is that the satire will write itself. For instance, with sleepy Ben Carson at the head of Housing and Urban Development we will see a guy who benefited from social safety net programs, but who says he made it all on his own, effectively destroy the agency he’s heading. The same with the Secretary of Education, a woman who worked her whole professional life to extinguish free, universal public education.
The second reason I look forward to the next four years: We have finally swallowed the pill. The bad guys have taken over, as they have threatened since the beginning of the New Deal. They will try to turn back the clock to 1890. They will fail. My hope is that in their failure, we will finally be rid of this awful notion that no government is good government.
I don’t know that the Democrats are up to the work of rebuilding. It’s arms, wings, and ideologies are too diverse and disparate. That’s one thing the party has over their counterparts. The Republicans are fairly united and predictable. The Democrats great strength is that they have a shifting center that responds to pressure. The pressure will be to put back together that which has been dismantled.
My guiding principles are no secret. You can read them here. One thing for certain is under Republican domination of statehouses and the Congress, the nation has been heading in the wrong direction. We are not building a nation of educated, free-thinking, and critically minded people. We have long deferred building human capital for temporary economic gain. We are coming to the end of that road. The only thing we must hope for is that Donald Trump and his Republican pals won’t lead us over the cliff.