A Dying Administration
As the nation licks its wounds, the mad god king is a mortally wounded creature, trapped in a nightmare of overreaction, panic, fear, and, increasingly, desperation
The American public, like a good hunter, would be well-advised to keep clear until this presidency finishes bleeding out
America has woken up this fine Monday morning after a severe national bender — naked, no clue as to how we got here, and slightly singed. However, for those of us who were mostly-sober, the national turning point was an almost-insignificant news-point last night when the President was rushed to a sealed safety bunker by the Secret Service — a move that we haven’t seen since the attacks of 9/11
If I seem a little more meandering and verbose than usual, my apologies; but I’m writing about concepts that require — demand — nuance and discussion, which don’t really lend themselves to the world of Twitter or TikTok. The racial issues laid bare over the weekend didn’t start in the 60’s, or with Jim Crow, or even the Civil War — they started in 1620, when the first official shipment of African Slaves arrived in America. Similarly, we’re not going to peel back Beloved Leader’s simmering layers of madness and insanity in 180 characters or less, but your survival in the New ‘Merica might depend upon your ability to understand — and gauge — which way the presidency is drunkenly lurching right now (which is an understandable problem — this administration has been both defined and limited by the chaos it delights in, and now it’s being consumed by that same madness).
So, the first, most-important thing to understand about this administration is that it is, for the first time in my life, not an administration controlled by the president, party agenda, personality, or anything like that. Since the Republican Primaries back in… 1584? It feels like a very, very long time ago, but, whenever they were; Donald Trump didn’t run on issues, personality, platform, or ego — he ran off of the other contenders. Go back and watch any debate or commercial, they aren’t about how great Donald Trump is; they’re inevitably about how much his opponents suck. Promises on the campaign trail were relatively few (I counted only two big ones myself, “build a wall,” and, “lock her up”)(although I suppose the inevitable vague GOP promises of smaller government, tax cuts, etc. were in there between the roaring Dog Whistle language and mocking those of us with disabilities), jabs, jests, and insults were an hourly occurrence. This presidency and its campaign was never about elevating Donald Trump or the Republican Party — it was, at every turn, about demeaning the President’s perceived enemies. Which started with the usual scapegoats, grew to include Democrats, the FBI, his own cabinet members — the usual suspects. When future generations sit down to make a movie about this whole excruciating debacle, it will be an important point in understanding this administration that it was only ever reactionary, which is critical, because when you don’t even start with the initiative, other issues like mission creep, budget, etc. can ensnare you. This administration has been, almost exclusively, focused on its enemies and bringing them down (hey, if it worked for Nixon — oh, wait…). Which is an important point because, as of last night, that enemies list is getting much larger.
You can understand my pessimism regarding an administration that has seen a rapidly-expanding, reactionary response to real-time crises and outsourced its legislative agenda to M. McConnell’s office. That doesn’t really instill a sense of civic obligation, Machiavellian intrigue, or even interest in the job. It reeks of impulsive decision-making that’s only ever reactionary. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s reactionary to the president’s perceived enemies (TRANSLATION: The national agenda is being set not even by the president or Congress, but by anyone who can get under the president’s skin for a few minutes)(What, you didn’t really believe Pelosi’s latest jab at the president’s obvious obesity wasn’t coldly calculated?), which, as I’ve pointed out, is an ever-expanding list.
A second, critical condition we must appreciate is that the decision-making processes made from a place of fear and desperation are completely different than those made in the calm, warm glow of a happy, supportive dinner table. As a cancer survivor, I’m well-aware that the two are night-and-day different, and, what’s more; I remember vividly that, in the darkest depths of fear and desperation, I was aware of the rather dramatic changes in my own thinking processes (to put that into the context of our national bender, it’s when you’re so drunk or stoned that you’re actually aware of your own intoxicated incompetence)(albeit on various neurological signalers rather than drugs, but the end result is surprisingly similar when you wake up with vague recollections of signing release forms for experimental treatments)(but I digress). That’s also critical, because I sincerely doubt a man who was rushed off to the hermetically-sealed bunker is feeling calm and confident this morning (although that could have just been the Secret Service doing their proud, patriotic duty, cutting off Beloved Leader’s Twit-stream, and giving the nation a few blessed hours of peace to lick our wounds)(but that might just me being generous).
To start tying the threads together, we have a president who is governed by — and governs through — fear, with absolutely no interest in legislation, funding issues, or, y’know, all of the messier-but-critical aspects of government, emerging from his doom bunker more-enraged and frightened than ever before. Do we think he’s going to appoint some adviser on racial relations? Fund an initiative to research the effects of militarized police? Get on the phone with N. Pelosi to discuss de-escalating the current crisis in law enforcement by providing civic tax incentives? Introduce a bill to criminalize protesting? Or, for those of you who’ve been following this administration, is he going to take to Twitter to advocate violence, and scream at people he feels are beneath him? Yes, it’s that last option (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/donald-trump-protests-governors-weak-police-brutality_n_5ed51fd3c5b63bc4db6be36d), and it’s damning that the president is on the phone with people he perceives to be beneath him (it’s that old adage that you can judge a man based on how he treats his subordinates rather than how they treat their superiors), screaming. He appointed Kavanaugh; one would think that if ever there was a safe target for a bully, it’s his crony he shoved past Congress. Unless, of course, there are distinct limits to the federal executive branch, and Trump’s increasingly hostile and erratic behavior has alienated his last remaining allies, and all his former political allies have decided it’s time to cut their losses and run. As the Bush and Obama Administrations ably demonstrated, while the presidency is rather limited in domestic policy, the president wields almost-infinite power to steer the public discourse and frame the debate. The question is; in these final months before Beloved Leader either flees to a country without an extradition treaty or is voted out of office (to give Republicans an idea of how dire the current electoral situation is, there’s a current debate at FiveThirtyEight about Arizona and Texas going purple)(and, make no mistake, in the increasingly improbable chance that he’s reelected, The Donald will see that as an endorsement of his bad behavior, and he’ll just start openly stealing bills from the US Treasury as they come off the press), who will be the target of his ire? He’s always been bigly against the standard scape-goats — ethnic minorities, black and brown people, Asians, Italians, the Polish, all of the folks we knew to fear back in 1890. The trouble is, those old groups have mostly-integrated into America and aren’t as visible to the Gestapo as they might have been a few decades ago. And, even though skin tone is the same standard qualifier it’s always been, is anyone really dumb enough to think the fascists are going to employ discerning, discreet judgment in the next round of lynchings? People of all races were held hostage in their homes last night in Minneapolis by the National Guard and patrolling police.
Despite the Donald bullying governors this morning to crack down on protesters, that’s not really an enumerated power outlined for the Executive Branch, and it’s not really my biggest fear. My biggest fear is that he can — as he always has — emboldened the enemies of his enemies. As we know from decades of bumbling incompetence in the Middle East, the enemy of my enemy is someone you should scrutinize closely and cautiously before equipping them with antitank weapons (but I digress), and AmeriKKKa is just getting started with this latest round of hate crimes and militarization, all while getting the tacit nod of approval from the Twitter-in-Chief. Before any disenfranchised trailer park dwellers reach for the shotgun with the ill-advised intention of going after disenfranchised black kids, I’d like to point out that your strong man spent last night quivering in a bunker. That isn’t the sort of imagery you want running loose out there. Which is why Trump is going to increase the rhetoric about killing minorities (again, when 45% of the population has a chronic illness of some sort; you have to be careful about your exclusionary language); it’s literally the only thing he knows how to do. He didn’t cut your taxes (unless you’re already a billionaire), he didn’t protect your job from getting sent to China (always pronounced with three syllables), he didn’t successfully build that wall to protect you from ̶w̶i̶l̶d̶l̶i̶n̶g̶s̶,̶ ̶w̶h̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶l̶k̶e̶r̶s̶,̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶f̶r̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶g̶i̶a̶n̶t̶s̶ Mexicans, he didn’t provide you with effective, affordable healthcare (or even N95 face masks); he can, however, beg you to kill your fellow citizens on his increasingly impotent, beleaguered behalf. All it takes to buy a pause in the violence that might allow the healing to start (we’re not going to repair 400 years of deliberate racial injustice in a month — a friend compared antiracist action to showering — once in a lifetime just isn’t enough), is just to stop listening to this administration, place a call to your local police department asking what they’re doing with your tax money to end systemic racism today, and continue about your day.
Please just stop killing us.