Trump’s Indelible Stain on American History

What you say about his company
Is what you say about society…

Rush, “Tom Sawyer,” 1981

If you’re a parent, what will you tell your child?

If you’re a grandparent, what will you tell your grandchild?

How will you explain this moment? How will you explain how that man crept into the White House, how so many Americans could be conned into voting for that man, how so many Americans could find his atrocious antics amusing?

How will you explain his rise to power? How will you explain the dynamics of disinformation that led so many to be fascinated by him, to worship him? How will you explain the thinking of your friends and neighbors who voted for him?

Six months into this horror, a fair argument can be made that Donald Trump already qualifies for consideration as the single worst president in United States history; there’s no question that he’s as every bit as repulsive as James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Pierce, Richard Nixon, Millard Fillmore, George W. Bush and Warren Harding before him. The cravenness and obnoxiousness of this man knows no limitations. The same goes for his offspring: the behavior of Donald Jr. and Ivanka alone forces one to contemplate the idea that their malevolence is a congenital trait.

With every passing day—with every passing tweet—the ghastliness of November 8, 2016 becomes ever more apparent. Back in the fall of 1995, with blacks and whites at each other’s throats over the outcome of the O. J. Simpson case, I thought that America hadn’t been this divided since the fight over civil rights; now, the darkness of the Donald makes the fall of 1995 seem like the good old days. At least we had a competent President back then—one harassed and persecuted by the same right-wing forces that eventually gave rise to Trump.

Thirteen months after Simpson’s acquittal, Bill Clinton was elected to a second term, sparing this country from the hazards of Republican control of both the Executive and Legislative branch. Two decades later, we’ve seen, as we saw from January 2001 to January 2007, the consequences of conservatism: hate, sleaze, ignorance, cowardice, corruption. Those who voted for Trump must have thought things were just wonderful during those six years. Democrats cannot reason with such a mentality.

A clever letter in last Tuesday’s Boston Globe says it all. Those who voted for Trump apparently don’t even remember the days when right-wingers viewed Russia as a godless, untrustworthy country. History forever begins anew for the right, erased when convenient like Mitt Romney’s Etch-A-Sketch. It’s hard to care about history when you only care about yourself.

Entertainment writer Jeffrey Wells observes:

[On July 10] on Facebook [Taxi Driver screenwriter] Paul Schrader asked if there’s any grotesque thing Donald Trump could do or say that would alienate his core supporters, or will they stick with him no matter what?

A guy named Sam Forrest wrote that Trump is “a fascist but I want to Make America Great Again.” Jordan Musheno wrote “maybe if he says Black Lives Matter.” Justin Allen said he “can deal with any sort of nonsense Don comes up with, but if he wears a tan suit I’ll register as a Democrat.”

A lot of morons out there are standing by Trump out of dumb pride, I suspect. Many of them voted for him not out of rapt admiration, but because their loathing of Hillary Clinton knew no bounds. And now they’re stuck with the fruit of this obstinacy.

I suspect that the only thing that would change their minds would be some kind of classic Lonesome Rhodes-Budd Schulberg truth-spill…[I]f he does an Andy Griffith hot-mike Face In The Crowd thing, all bets are off. Then and ONLY THEN will the Trump faithful re-assess the situation.

Unfortunately, Wells is wrong. Even if Trump directly insulted his own base, they’d love it, and think they deserved the criticism.

Two years ago, at the outset of this American nightmare, I noted that Trump embodied the con artist Stevie Wonder described in his 1973 song “He’s Misstra Know-It-All.” Two years later, it’s obvious that a significant portion of the voting populace wanted to be conned, wanted to be lied to, wanted to be hustled.

How do you explain that to your children and grandchildren? How can anyone make sense of it?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.