As COVID decimates the U.S., Donald Trump diverts and divides the country in his failed non-leadership by attacking #BlackLivesMatter demonstrators while offering more support and resources to police departments, warning in not-so-subtle racist terms that allowing low cost housing will destroy suburbs, inventing Biden conspiracy theories, and so much more.
Trump’s campaign motto seems to have morphed from initially “Make America Great Again,” to “Keep America Great,” and now to “I Am the Law and Order president.” This supposed “law and order” he threatens involves draconian (and possibly unconstitutional) measures of surveillance, arrest, and denial of civil and human rights.
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Before and during Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office, his words and actions have sparked uprisings and further inflamed tensions between the promises and the realities of racial and gender justice. In doing so, he advances the patriarchal white supremacist system of domination and control. He employs scare tactics to further secure the baseness of his base of support.
Trump mimics provocateur tactics of the Nazis when they covertly torched the German Parliament building leading to Adolf Hitler’s supposed “mandate” to initiate and maintain “emergency powers” of martial law and, thereby, thwarting President Hindenburg from replacing him with a more moderate German Chancellor.
Trump is following the playbook enacted by both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan in asserting “law and order” as the major campaign issue at other points of unrest and tension in our nation.
As history tells us, these strategies worked extraordinarily well for Trump’s German and U.S. predecessors, well, at least initially until in the case of Hitler and Nixon, “law and order” came back to bite them.
Patriarchal white supremacy wins by building walls of division, while inhibiting attempts to construct bridges connecting people.
Trump has dedicated his entire life in erecting walls to divide and conquer, to “win” for himself at any cost to his now non-existent sense of dignity, integrity, and empathy.
Trump’s statements, policies, and actions, coupled with his cabinet and other staff appointees has resulted in furthering the already deep skid marks across the landscape, and a historic collective fracture of division and anxiety on the body politic.
Trump has excited the worst in the human psyche. But he has merely served as a tool – a toxic elixir – that has revealed the iceberg of the largely submerged resentment and fear of the “other.” By his example, he has given his supporters permission to act on their own prejudiced beliefs with strength and even with pride.
Trump could be placed into the category of “Machiavellian” in his single mindedness, cunning, plotting, and unscrupulous – sometimes vicious – actions in advancing his power and fortune by enacting his policies. To him, the ends certainly justify the means no matter who gets hurt.
He appeals to nationalism with isolationism, building walls, talk of “shithole countries,” “lawless Democrat-led cities,” destruction of suburbs, thugs on planes coming to get you presented in the guise of “popularism,” feeds on people’s fears and prejudices, which has resulted in the segregation of people and nations from one another, with threats and dangers of violence.
He attacks on our long-established allies, while having obsessive admiration for tyrannical dictators. This in itself has made us weaker internationally and internally.
Trump has carried out his threats to roll backs many of the rights and protections minoritized peoples have tirelessly fought for over the past decades: reproductive rights, voting rights, citizenship rights, human rights, anti-torture guarantees, immigrant rights, rights of unreasonable search and seizure, rights of assembly, disability rights, freedom of religion, transgender rights, marriage equality and equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
He daily scapegoats already disenfranchised identity groups as the internal and external enemies of the United States: Muslims and anyone from Muslim-majority countries, Mexicans and all Latinx people, urban “thugs,” the press, Somalis, president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, the ACLU, liberals, immigrants, Robert Mueller and his panel of investigators, in fact anyone who disagrees with the President in any way.
His toxic misogynistic utterances and allegations of sexual harassment by numerous women have reached historic proportions.
His promises to enlarge and improve our “failing” military when he entered the White House as Commander in Chief and to fire generals whom Trump “knows more than about ISIS,” and his apparent lack of knowledge about or seeming lack of fear of nuclear weapons threatens the Planet.
Warnings to employ libel laws to sue the “crooked and lying” media (Lügenpresse, “lying press” popularized by the German Nazis to silence opposition) and anyone accusing him of a crime jeopardizes Constitutional guarantees.
Trump places U.S. residents at risk for attack and violence with his continued cries against “Islamic jihadist terrorists” and immigrants as the major threats to our nation thereby exposing U.S. Muslims and Latinx people to increased calls for a “national registry,” arrests, separation from their children, and surveillance to track their movements.
His attendance at several Christian prayer vigils and appearances at conservative right Christians conferences and universities like Liberty University, with calls “Make America Great Again” gives the subliminal dog-whistle message of making America white and Protestant again. And his misuse of scripture justifies his oppressive policies and actions.
By his administration’s increasing deregulation of energy and corporate business sectors with massive tax cuts and other financial incentives, he further places our Planet’s lifespan at risk while enormously increasing the already insurmountable wealth gap between the ultra-rich and everyone else.
He attacks and attempts to diminish the rights of workers to organize and negotiate through collective bargaining agreements, supports privatization of entitlements, advocates for the abolition of a national minimum wage.
Trump unapologetically engages in nepotism in his deployment of his adult children and son-in-law as close trusted political operatives who meet with visiting diplomats and travel to foreign capitals to negotiate political and business deals.
In addition, the many continuously unresolved conflict-of-interest issues and “emoluments” breeches between his position as President and his worldwide business interests linger as many probes into his corruption have become common occurrences.
Trump has been assisted by the larger Republican Party and the Supreme Court in gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has resulted in voter suppression campaigns effectively reducing the number of polling stations in primarily minoritized racial communities, and limiting days and times for pre-election-day voting helped by foreign governments, especially Russia, to impact elections in Trump’s favor.
Since Trump has no factual basis to ask voters to trust him with a second presidential term, diversion, fear, threats, false promises, and conspiracy theories remain as his only platform on which his candidacy stands.
His supporters must remember the truism, though: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”