This is Trump’s Moment

This will be less an essay than a personal letter. It is a letter to my readers, past and present, who have sometimes questioned my heavy focus on Donald Trump, my unwillingness to bend a little on my opposition to him, and especially my unkind words for and about his supporters, including those among them who used to be friendly to me. Specifically, this letter is directed at anyone, on any side of any fence, who still feels uncomfortable with my identification of Trump’s fan club (i.e., voters) as a cult. 

Over the past several weeks, you have watched your nation sell its soul to the principles and practice of tyranny. Precedents have been established that will have permanent effects on the future of America, and therefore on the future of whatever was left of “the free world.” The U.S. Constitution has been trampled under foot in the stampede of a mob pushed to hysteria by a combination of blood-money-grubbing from the mass media and overt power-grabbing from the political elite throughout the country. The latter portion of that propagandistic manipulation, the directly treasonous part, was spearheaded in Washington, D.C. And the eager, attention-loving figurehead of this treason masquerading as a “response to the pandemic” was one Donald J. Trump.

Trump, and Trump alone, owns this moment of America’s final corruption. I am certainly not saying that he acted alone. He has neither the brains nor the guts to act alone in such matters. On the contrary, he is a spineless, mindless, unprincipled puppet of the Washington establishment, exactly as I have been calling him for years, and he has proved it in spades over the past month. More importantly, he has proved the folly of all those who jumped on the Trump bandwagon, however tentatively and belatedly, on the utterly fallacious grounds that “he fights,” “he is taking on the establishment,” or “he loves America.” 

He loves Donald Trump. He is and has always been what I called him during the 2016 primaries, namely the establishment’s court jester. And far from “fighting” anyone, he has spent his entire time in office waving white flags at every opponent who has presented an iota of a challenge to his childish ego.

And so, after about one day of sounding like a leader (albeit an illiterate one) on the coronavirus situation, he almost immediately, under pressure from his “experts” and puppet-masters, did an about-face, playing “wartime president” in his ultimate reality TV fantasy show, throwing his presidential weight around willy-nilly, making his usual Mussolini-esque threats against private companies, issuing warnings about the arbitrary actions he would take against this or that “hot spot” around the country if people didn’t behave, signing away three trillion dollars of America’s financial future on Mitch McConnell’s command, and generally tanking the economy — which, lest we forget, really means the lives and well-being of millions of families — by fostering panic and rationalizing lockdowns over a mere bad flu season. 

Now, of course, as the government overreach begins to look as ridiculous as it always was, Trump is starting to play to his base again, criticizing this or that state government for “going too far” with the stay-at-home dictates, and acting as though he is in a hurry to “reopen the economy.”

Not to fear — his base never left him. They just chose to pretend that when he was spearheading the national movement to tear up the Bill of Rights, crush thousands of small businesses, and bankrupt their great-grandchildren with debt, this was all part of his master plan to drain the swamp. They just conveniently ignored his leadership role in everything they opposed, while cheering him on when he turned around and fed them a bit of the rhetoric they liked — as they always do.

Let the record show, however, that Donald J. Trump was America’s president, her leader, her spokesman, the voice of her government, during the month when America officially, willingly ceased to be even a shadow of the nation that was founded by brave statesmen and sober thinkers of the late eighteenth century. America is all over now, and Trump is the one man above all others who stood in a position to resist this, to speak up for the people and principles of the nation, to call out the tyrannical frauds undermining liberty, to present a strong alternative voice to the self-seeking paternalists. 

He had the chance. He had the megaphone. He had the moment in the palm of his hands. He could have been courageous and stood up against the fearmongers and frauds. He could have acted like a man who loved his country more than he loved his ego and his power. He could have said no to the lockdowns, no to the “relief bills,” no to the “experts” exploiting this outbreak to make their condescending career dreams come true at the expense of freedom and dignity. He could have shown the nerve and the genuine confidence — the independent mind and moral decency — that we have seen from the Swedish government, or from those rare doctors and scientists around the world today who are putting their necks, their reputations, and their professional careers on the line at this very moment, because they refuse to sell their minds to the obvious and craven lies of power-mongers and hysteria-feeders. 

Trump had his opportunity, and he had every incentive. What he lacked, however, was the intelligence, the integrity, the principles, and the honor — in short, the statesmanship — to do the right thing. So he did exactly the wrong thing, all the wrong things in fact, at the moment when his nation could least afford a president unable and unwilling to defend her.

America’s greatest moment of failure, her descent into the rule of unprincipled demagoguery, is on Donald Trump’s head.

But it will not matter a whit to his witless cultists. Fifty million people watched him sell their hopes down the river over the past several weeks, and yet every one of them would tell you right now that he is standing up for them, without so much as a twinge of shame or self-doubt.

Do you see now, gentle friends, why I have spent so much time, written so many essays, and willingly accepted the loss of so many thousands of formerly sympathetic readers, in making my case against Trump? It mattered. I told you it would matter. You are seeing why.

It doesn’t matter much anymore, unfortunately. The damage — Trump’s damage — is done.

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