My latest newspaper column:
Win or lose, Donald Trump has done incalculable damage to America. It can’t be overstated. A disordered egomaniac who can’t abide not being adored by others as much as he adores himself, he’s doing everything he can to delegitimize the core of our democracy. Free and fair elections. Unencumbered press. And, above all else, trust in the process. This is worse than his career of cheating and lying, even worse than his sexual predation. It fits the definition of sedition. It’s unspeakably dangerous. He doesn’t care.
Trump won’t commit to accepting election results, telling people to vote, then to go to “certain places” to be on the watch for unspecified dastardly voting activity. He believes (or, at least, wants you to believe) his losing could only occur if the election is “rigged,” which happens to be impossible. His latest lie: the US is letting undocumented immigrants “pour into the country” to vote. This is deliberate incitement. If our democracy isn’t about respecting the outcome of elections, it’s about nothing. He doesn’t care.
To avoid personal embarrassment, he stokes anger and resentment. Physical attacks on reporters, death threats to them and their kids are signs of what’s to come. The latest foreshadowing: standing threateningly, locked and loaded, outside Democratic offices. Post-election plans for attacks are being uncovered. This imperils us far more than ISIS. He doesn’t care.
It’s entirely attributable to his words. For Trump, it’s about rationalizing failure, but his supporters accept his ravings as truth. As with his birther lie, systemic harm is of no concern, only aggrandizement and revenge. Especially revenge: his career is rife with acts of it. Handing pitchforks to an angry mob, he’s tearing the country asunder. He doesn’t care.
Expecting a fawning press and lying with impunity, as it had been in his “business” career, Trump now bans and blames news organizations that uncover his lies. Enabled by supporters taught to pre-reject facts based on source not content, and to mock expertise, he claims media bias. But our democracy depends on a free and skeptical press and a well-informed electorate, both of which he scorns, because they’re constitutionally intended to protect our country from the unbridled power that he seeks. He doesn’t care.
As he strikes out (in both senses), his rallies become more frightening. Having swallowed the paranoid Trumpic rantings, ignorant of the reasons for the First Amendment, his minions are convinced media are the enemy. To explain away revelations of his vulgarity and unethical business practices, Donald Trump pretends he’s the victim. And his supporters scream at the bulwark of democracy. He doesn’t care.
For a narcissistic and pathological liar, this has been perfectly predictable. Facing the inevitable, he’s become a cornered rabid dog. In full conspiracy mode, speaking recently in Florida, resorting to a time-honored anti-Semitic trope, he imagined a planet-wide conspiracy against him, run by “international bankers.” Making ever-wilder claims, likening his suffering to Jesus, he fed fuel to the fires festering within his furious fans, who stand ready to burn it all down. (I’m glad Democrats raised money to rebuild that firebombed Republican office.) You’d avoid a guy ranting like this on a street corner. That this one is the Republican nominee for President of the United States embarrasses us all. He doesn’t care.
The description may not fit all of his enthusiasts, but if Trump wins, the most democracy-rejecting, misinformed haters of nonwhite and non-Christian Americans will find themselves welcomed into the mainstream. If he’s defeated, there’s no doubt they’ll buy his claim of rigging and respond accordingly. They already have. What then? Two sides, separated by a deliberately constructed wall of hate for the winner, the losers readying, literally, to shed blood. A country in flames? He doesn’t care.
Donald Trump says “America,” but it’s only himself he’s ever wanted to make great, because, I think, somewhere inside he knows he’s not. As losing looms, he’s lashing out even more at the essential qualities of America, willing to take it down with him. It’s past time for true conservatives and their “leaders” to admit the damage he’s doing and call it out. It’s getting worse by the day. Win or lose, that is his legacy. Donald J. Trump doesn’t care.[Image source]