Truly inauspicious beginnings.
Even mainstream media outlet CNN is beginning to acknowledge the cancer they enabled with unlimited access to live air time whenever Donald Trump called into the station in his early candidacy. Remember how shamelessly they stooged for him? Even as they rolled their eyes at his outrageous antics, they never held him accountable for the poisonous lies he embraced. Donald Trump was making them his creatures, only to later dash them against the wall.
Many of us saw signs of proto-facism even in the early days of Trump’s bid for the presidency, when CNN and others, not recognizing his authentic potential to do harm, allowed Donald Trump free reign of the airwaves to propagate messages of hate, misogyny, dystopia and pathological nationalism. CNN slavishly covered every minute of his blood-thirsty rallies, accepting abuse and coming back for more.
Like a malevolent Pied Piper, Trump cleverly used these broadcast opportunities to reach into the dark hearts of all those in the shadows who have chafed at the evolution of race and gender roles in America, and felt their impotent rage suppressed by the forces of political correctness.
It is an all too familiar scenario, replaying the script of authoritarian adventure that has undone older republics than our own. Now, even this CNN opinion writer sees that it won’t end well for American democracy.
Amid a frenzy of increasingly irresponsible tweets, on Martin Luther King Day, Trump upped the ante by savagely attacking civil rights icon John Lewis for simply refusing an invitation to the Inauguration. If he had it in his power now to impose penalties for non-attendance, I have no doubt that Congressman Lewis would be in jail, once again, right now.
What’s crazy is that a number of pundits, and even a few Democrats, have taken the position that even though Mr. Trump’s characterizations of Congressman Lewis were clearly out of line, Lewis was somehow also in the wrong, simply for stating his reason for refusing to attend. Unprincipled shills for corporate ‘neutrality’, they priggishly invoke the importance of upholding the outward appearance of an “orderly transfer of power” etc., etc.
That is absolute bullshit! This is not the time to indulge in a game of false equivalence.
The President Elect set fire to those traditions himself, long ago; first of all by falsely imputing the legitimacy of the previous president; then by refusing to share his taxes with the American people; by indulging in flamboyant acts of cronyism and nepotism, and refusing to divest in order to avoid conflicts of interest; by public disloyalty to the national interest; and finally by lying so fabulously and unapologetically as to consign the notion of executive honor permanently to the scrap heap.
Other behaviors and comments showing a pattern of disrespect for minorities and women have so thoroughly violated his responsibility as the head of state as to leave little doubt of his illegitimacy, even before we consider the evidence of interference by a hostile foreign state and the possibility that his campaign was in cahoots with the Russians.
Donald Trump has no respect for the office or for more than half of his constituents; so why on earth should we be expected to indulge his vanity by pretending nothing’s rotten in DC?
To my mind, anyone who treats this transition and Donald Trump’s presidency as ‘legitimate’ is guilty of complicity.
Surely there has never been a better reason to set aside tradition than when the President Elect himself shows no interest in upholding the traditions of democratic consent.
Donald Trump and his sycophants have wrapped themselves in the delusion that he is somehow above reproach and possessed of an unimpeachable mandate from the people, when nothing could be further from the truth.
But even “truth” doesn’t have the weight that it did a year ago, before Donald Trump reshaped it as a negotiable commodity.