The case against a Trump second term is as painfully obvious as it was in 2016. He is grossly unfit and unqualified for office. He is incompetent and unintelligent, unable to fulfill the most basic duties of the presidency. He’s lazy, showing no interest in doing the hard work of managing a state. He lies on an unimaginable scale. He spends most of his time on twitter, watching cable news, or golfing. He’s blatantly racist and xenophobic. He’s pocketing millions in taxpayer money through his businesses, and encouraging a rank culture of corruption throughout his administration. His conspiracy mongering has further eroded trust in our institutions and brought an unparalleled threat to the civic functionality of the country. He has abandoned any effort to contain the mass death and suffering of the country during this pandemic. The list of grievances goes on and on. This unfitness has combined with the worst impulses of the modern conservative movement to create a devastating blow to our governing capacity. Not even examining the endless policy malfeasance, these sins alone should disqualify his holding a second term.
But what’s overlooked is Donald Trump’s inability to put the interests of the nation ahead of his own, as well as his failure to uphold his oath of office to faithfully execute our laws and abide by the constitution. There are three major scandals, and soon to be four, that show the depth of Trump’s betrayal: the Russia scandal, the Ukraine Scandal, the COVID-19 crisis, and the 2020 Presidential Election.
The Russia scandal is an enigma for most of the public. For almost two years, a special counsel’s investigation worked diligently on the matter while the public was left to wildly speculate. The Mueller report, despite being neutered by Attorney General Bill Barr, is one of the most damning documents ever written about a US president, clearly laying out evidence for Trump’s extensive criminality throughout the affair. The bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee also drafted an extensive report documenting numerous links and interactions between Russian operatives and members of the 2016 Trump campaign.
As author and blogger Steve Bennen succinctly put, these reports, along with public information, show that “Trump’s political operation sought Russian assistance, embraced Russian assistance, capitalized on Russian assistance, lied about Russian assistance, and took steps to obstruct the investigation into Russian assistance.”
To get to the meat of the matter, set aside the question of whether the Russian influence operation altered the outcome of the election, and pretend Trump and his campaign were innocent of any wrongdoing which precipitated the investigation. First, did Russia conduct a massive influence operation against American democracy, including penetrating election infrastructure and other systems? According to the aforementioned reports and the entire intelligence community, yes. Is it in this country’s interest to deter and prevent those actions? Also yes. Has Trump and his administration actively sought to relieve Russia from fault, and undermined deterrence? Unequivocally, yes.
The Trump administration has sought to minimize the ongoing threat of Russian interference despite extensive intelligence indicating that threat, and has bent over backwards to accommodate Putin, perhaps best incapsulated by Trump’s humiliating capitulation to Putin at a Helsinki press conference. These actions undeniably constitute a gross betrayal of the national interest. The politicized and complicated nature of this scandal only served to obscure this obvious fact.
Trump’s treachery in the Ukraine scandal is even easier to spell out.
The United States has a stated national interest of preventing Russian military aggression and annexation of Ukrainian territory. Congress approved funds specifically for the purpose of aiding Ukraine against those aggressive and unprovoked actions. Trump, on tape, extorted the Ukrainian president by asking for cooperation in a baseless political smear operation against his chief political rival, Joe Biden, in exchange for releasing that congressionally approved aid. These treacherous and illegal acts led to Trump’s impeachment, and the Republican Party showed itself unwilling to hold the President accountable for his crimes.
The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps the most painful example of Trump’s incompetence and treachery. Trump and his cronies lied to the American public about the dangers of the virus despite having early warnings to the contrary. The administration has continued to deliberately hamper and discourage an aggressive response because it fears the political impacts of raising alarm, and has instead abandoned the American people as their communities are ravaged.
The administration has settled on denying reality and declaring the virus as a hoax, aggressively attacking science and public health experts who are trying to save lives. They’ve discouraged mask wearing, mass testing, and lockdowns when necessary, and have effectively given up any hope of controlling the virus, leaving many tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans to die in the near future. This has crowned the U.S. with the worst track record on the planet, with roughly 9 million sickened, and an estimated 300,000 dead Americans and counting. This response has been unconscionable and criminally negligent, and a betrayal of the national interest in the pursuit of minimizing the administration’s culpability.
It has been particularly disgusting to watch the Republican Party politicize this virus and the response. A political party that prides itself as fervently pro-life could not be bothered to give two fucks about hundreds of thousands of Americans dropping dead because of the political inconvenience of acknowledging the grim reality. This is the same party that threw a fervor with nearly a dozen investigations over 4 dead Americans in the attack on the consulate in Benghazi; this is the same party that launched multi-decade long war to avenge 3,000 dead on 9/11. There are not enough expletives in the English language to sufficiently berate Republicans for such brazen hypocrisy and deadly indifference. Fuck every elected Republican official complicit in this response. Seriously, I hope that there is a hell just so every single one of them can burn there.
The fourth treachery Trump and his ilk are unleashing is that against American democracy itself. As he languishes in the polls, Trump and the entire Republican Party is actively seeking to undermine the integrity of the election by casting doubt on the process and declaring it a fraud. Rather than fight for a legitimate claim to power, the Republican Party is seeking to rig the election to their favor by blocking access to the polls and stopping ballots from being counted wherever they can. Trump has repeatedly stated the only way he could possibly lose is by fraud, and has refused to accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Trump is actively entertaining treason because his egomania cannot handle the concept of defeat, and the Republican party remains unable to stand up to him.
This is not hyperbolic analysis. Past Republican nominees and presidents, despite being disastrous for one reason or another, did not so brazenly threaten the very democratic foundation of the country. The Trump administration and its Republican defenders represent the most serious threat to American democracy in modern history. Even if he gets crushed tomorrow, Trump will not concede because of his deep narcissism and looming legal exposure. This posturing and his cult of personality amongst large swaths of the Republican Party is going to inspire political violence from some of his most fervent believers. In the face of defeat, he will sow discord and doubt over a legitimate exercise of popular will because he does not give a shit about this country. He is forever only concerned with protecting his own personal, financial, and political interests above all else.
If the Republican Party can’t show courage in the face a bumbling dipshit whose governing philosophy has all the nuance of a raspberry noise, then how can the GOP ever be trusted to stand against any threat in the future? The GOP has been happy to abide by lawlessness and authoritarianism these past four years so long as Trump abides by their agenda. Such nihilism is a blueprint for fascism, and the GOP’s bend towards this authoritarian impulse and hack fealty to advance their cause will not stop when Trump slinks away from public life.
The concern that should keep us up at night is not that Trump’s infantile leadership represents a looming dictatorship. He is too haphazard and uninterested to muster such an effort alone, and he will almost certainly die soon from an aneurysm brought on from watching cable news and typing in all caps on Twitter. To use a cliché example from the fall of the Roman republic, the greater threat is that Trump’s constant norm and law breaking pave the way for a Cesar like the Roman Consuls Sulla and Marius did as they crumbled the Roman state enough make Cesar’s rise possible. What happens when a smarter and more ambitious person capitalizes on the institutional decay exposed on Trump’s watch?
The Republican Party has shown that they will forever prioritize power for their party over the national interest, and are happy to make the trade of power for blind loyalty and deference to Trump. We should all fear their coming support of his efforts to declare the election a fraud.
Trump has been an unmitigated disaster for climate change, the economy, and keeping Americans alive, among an endless onslaught of scandals and corruption rotting the federal government. He is a daunting setback for the idea of American exceptionalism. We are perhaps permanently a weaker, dirtier, and poorer country than before he took office. He has frayed alliances and the international order that has preserved a delicate peace since WWII. He rejects science, tolerance, and basic democratic principles. Everything this country has stood on the world stage and declared sacred in the past century has been pissed on in the name of authoritarian conservative ambition. To paraphrase commentator David Frum, as the Republican Party continues to lose popular support and its base shrinks, they will not abandon their ideological conservative crusade; they will abandon democracy itself. The fact that Republicans are currently doing everything in their power to get as few votes as possible counted confirms that. American democracy is on the precipice of disaster, and the viability of this nation is in doubt if men like Trump can continue to hold power.
Down with Donald Trump, the traitor-in-chief. And down with the Republican Party that has sold their souls to keep him in power. With few exceptions, no current Republican official should be considered fit for elected office ever again. Shame on those that have supported and abetted such a humiliating era.
Trump must go.
He must take McConnell with him.