And so the Trump Administration ends as it began: with an act of Sedition.
Even before he officially announced his candidacy, Donald Trump kept claiming publicly, nationally, and loudly what was known, at the time, to be a lie: that President Obama was not a US Citizen. Through endless repetition, supported by all major media, Trump’s lie and insinuations created enough of a problem in governing that the sitting US President produced another, “long form,” birth certificate to the public.
Of course, this did nothing to resolve the issue for those who wanted to believe Trump in the first place. Nor did it dim the presidential prospects for Trump.
As my work involves colleagues who are in the defense and intelligence industries, I have run into plenty of people, most of whom are friends, who held political opinions that can legitimately be called conservative. Politics used to be like religion: educated, civilized people don’t have an issue with what ideology others follow, including that of atheism, as long as the person’s beliefs are founded upon a basic ethic and moral structure that is universal in all modern societies. So, too, were politics. As long as a person founded their political ideology on the ideas of fair play, the Rule of Law, that no person is above the law, and the specifics of the United States Constitution, everyone always seemed to be on the same side, in my experience. I’ve worked with national politicians on both sides of the aisle and have been able to persuade all of them, regardless of their political platforms and bases. Because what’s good for the United States will always be a persuasive argument.
Donald Trump changed that common assumption from the start. His official campaign began with a literal “us vs them” mentality. That wasn’t a bug. That was a feature.
And it was not a hidden message. Anyone who followed politics even casually could see where Donald Trump was going. Before the 2016 election, the buzz in my circles was that no one, regardless of political ideology and however conservative, was voting for Trump.
Because for months, Donald Trump made statement after statement that were outrageous when compared to common American norms. Prior to 2016, regardless of political passion, anyone could see that what was good for Donald Trump was not good for America. Be it his campaign remarks about casually and openly shooting someone in New York City, be it his candid remarks about physically assaulting women he found attractive, or be it his nationally known seditious remarks about President Obama’s citizenship. It was obvious to anyone following the situation that Donald Trump was not only a tremendously incompetent person in business but also a tremendously flawed person in ethics and morals.
Donald Trump’s disregard to governing for common cause was cemented in his inaugural address where he divided America into two camps: those who voted for him and those who did not. Donald Trump views everything as transactional. In the early years of his administration, those who would suffix everything with hashtag notmypresident were wasting their social media characters. Donald Trump didn’t think he was their president, either.
So anyone now asking “How could this happen?” of the most recent sedition is asking the wrong question. The entire Trump Administration was one of sedition. By appointing cabinet officials to undermine usual government functioning. By giving life-time judgeships to people who, under any other administration, would not be qualified. By bankrupting the tax coffers meant for public infrastructure and public safety nets and giving that money to the very wealthy. By campaigning that the President was above the law. By a foreign policy telegraphed to diplomats as an homage to the President rather than representative of the American people. By instituting a profit-motivated patronage system the likes of which the country hadn’t seen in a century. By overtly and illegally interfering with Federal elections at both the state and national levels.
The physical scars left on the Capitol building are but a metaphor of what has happened to the United States of America during the past four years. Those same people that illegally stormed a United States institution with the stated purpose of disrupting government functions probably didn’t know the Republicans in Congress had blocked, for years, all efforts to make elections more secure. And, more ominously, those same people couldn’t believe that after four years of not a single day of public polling approval, which included the worst response of any developed nation to the Covid pandemic crisis, Donald Trump could lose an election. All they knew was their allegiance was to a person and not an office.
They had it all backwards, of course. For while Donald Trump was the President, the President was never Donald Trump. And yet, during his entire Administration, the media kept asking when Donald Trump would “pivot to acting Presidential.”
The pivot never came and now, with the end of his administration, will never come. The last act of any sitting President is to appear on the Inaugural Stand, as a visible symbol, for both domestic and foreign audiences, that the United States is run by the Office of the President and not by the individual who just happens to be sitting in that Office at any one time. Every other United States President in the modern era understands the symbolism. This is why, in 2016, President Obama was visible on the stand despite having been falsely and seditiously accused by Donald Trump.
There can never be a rehabilitation of Donald Trump because there is no starting point from which to rehabilitate him. However, he is only the symptom of the nation’s ills. Donald Trump could not have carried out his program without the strong and enabling support of his party, the Republicans, and, to a lesser extent, the simultaneous weak and tepid fight from the opposition party, the Democrats. Donald Trump and his Administration are a culmination of decades of poor national choices and a purposefully grown low-intelligence and little-thinking electorate. And it remains to be seen whether the cancerous tumor of the seditious radical right on our body politic has metastasized or not.