Everyone loves contests open to all, especially without entrance fees or petty state restrictions in unreadably tiny type. This competition, declared here and now, sustains the highest moral ground since there won’t be one awards ceremony — and certainly no cash prizes. Instead, the winner garners immeasurable gratitude from millions exhausted by never-ending Trumpian scandals. Why not an uplifting game that corrals the worst of Trumpery, a daunting challenge as shockers pile up week after week, quicker and more visible than melting glaciers?
The dramatic language of “most damning legacy” comes from Robert Reich. But I for one find his nomination a tad skimpy: “Donald Trump has abused the trust we place in a president to preserve and protect the nation’s capacity for self-government.” Is that it? What about national sabotage, nuclear threats, sexual harassment or practicing the art of lying as if a high art of refined civilizations? Actually, Trump is all in favor of “self-government” as long as only his “self” does the governing. “I am the only one who matters,” he boasts, echoing “I alone can fix everything.” Are we to believe his torrent of lying or our truth-telling eyes and brains? So far, with no change in sight, this icon of illegitimacy hasn’t fixed anything, in fact breaking whatever he besmirches with his rampant B.S.
That puts among Trump’s most damning legacies how his manic over-compensation makes his term one giant, vacuous Selfie. We’re not talking only how his tribal cultism undercuts “self-government” but functional, national government itself. Unless he really quests for autocracy — and we’re saved so far from that horror because blowhard Trump, notching enemies faster than he dumps advisors, is no better at doing autocracy than anything else. Whatever his dreams of total control, his ineptitude swamps everything. Considering Trump’s unswerving refusal to understand governance, let alone decency or Constitutional limits, need we not expand Reich’s point to include “rational governance,” whether self, collective or by majority rule?
Overall, Reich’s article also assumes we’re even close to knowing (and enduring) what will go down eventually as Trump’s “most damning” legacy. Aren’t we arguably way closer to the start than the end of Trump’s disaster politics? We’ve already clocked a zero on Trump’s domestic positives, plus idiotic foreign policy laughers, and scattergun malevolence towards nearly group except for his base and the Kremlin. What about this epic breakthrough: the greatest discrepancy between the phoniest, least doable campaign promises vs. his major achievement-less, anti-governance regime — worsened by non-stop sneering, boasting, arm waving and mouth flapping?
The Legacy of Not Knowing
Indeed, that puts forth the worst legacy so far from chaotic Trumpery as our total inability to anticipate the range or degree of the next, looming catastrophes. Take seriously that he now bemoans not being able to dictate at will to the courts, the Justice Dept. or the FBI — even exiling the Special Prosecutor on Trumpism. Only a deranged, permanent loose cannon would worry out loud that a mere president can’t do whatever his perversely partisan, self-serving self-wants. Why, it wouldn’t surprise me when he challenges the rock-ribbed impeachment clause, let alone trial by senators he’s already abused. What’s scariest for me is we don’t know what critical systemic weak points remain as targets for this plunderer-in-chief.
Check the trend. Trump already made mincemeat of one national party’s nomination process, then campaigned with utter disregard for caution, temperance, good faith, or necessary democratic and electoral restraints. His contagious, pathological lying and threats already surpass reams of Republicans plus roomfuls of Russian collaborators and hackers.
Let’s see, contest-wise, what potential areas loom for his horrific permanent legacy. He hasn’t yet started a nuclear war. Or terminated an entire populace because its leader mocked him. That’s why senators now want to restrain his nuclear attack ability. Trump hasn’t yet outlawed voting by non-whites or sent in Marines to jail those in Congress or key agencies who defy his version of “self-government.” He hasn’t yet justified his worst decisions by invoking the divine right of kings, making him both absolute and incapable of error (notions already endorsed by goofy evangelicals). After all, divine right makes it not just impolitic but sacrilegious to impeach, let alone depose a messiah.
A World at Risk
Second issue for contestants: let’s not limit Trump’s most damning legacy, as Reich implicitly does, only to our shores or territories. What about his still “believing” Putin’s denials, not all our intelligence services, on Russian election hacking? Would a global hacker just openly admit his crimes? What about America Firstism (except when bowing to China and Russia) that dismisses years of workable foreign policy? What about wrecking trade, diplomatic or nuclear agreements justified with laughable sound bites? Why does Trump irrationally denigrate Iran when it honors nuclear terms? Or abruptly wipe away the TPP? Or slam NAFTA simply with cries of “unfair” — that Trump’s Real America is sick of being everyone’s whipping boy. What pathetic badmouthing, considering America didn’t become the world’s imperial super-power, with overseas violations galore, by being Mr. Nice Guy.
Perhaps the winning entry nominates Trump’s unstoppable assault on truth, citing more lies in his roughly two most public years than, say, the last century of presidents, maybe two? Damn lies fit a damning legacy. What about his singular, chronic, malicious tweeting syndrome (CMTS)? What about Trump going down as causing the most scandalized White House ever, a bonanza of investigations, indictments and convictions that shame the Nixonian disgrace? Or simply being the least able, creepiest president on record, condoning sexual predation and bragging to Howard Stern how this hero for fundamentalists boasted about leering at undressed teen beauty contestants.
Let’s not overlook direct attacks on free speech, nor the prospect of closing down media outlets, jailing mouthy journalists, even arresting Hillary for “crimes” no real prosecutor would touch? What about executive immigration bans that wallop the Bill of Rights? Maybe the unbuildable Great Wall of Trump will qualify? Finally, what about Trump’s noxious commission that seeks non-existent voter fraud to justify more discrimination towards the disempowered, minorities or any Democratic voters the alt-right can’t stand? Has any president appointed (and had to fire) more rankly unscrupulous, inept knaves ready to embrace the sleaziest means to the sleaziest ends?
For now, Trump’s most damning legacy appears to me as the inestimable, unpredictable range of what Trump looks to destroy. In any case, nominate your own projections, with reasons. No charge and no limits. I certainly haven’t covered all the bases, even all the fields of opportunity. Trump, if we survive intact, is the gift of chaos that keeps pumping out mayhem — and tragically little has changed from Day One of this most damnable presidency.