Driving the Trump rampage: Making the unacceptable acceptable

In Trump's crooked model, only total power allows an autocrat to achieve the highest goal: make what was before unacceptable seem acceptable, staunch public resistance by damned.

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Trump tyranny: Chin-thrusting, one-man rule

For what seems an eternity, millions of rational observers scratch their heads: why are Trump’s absurd statements and destructive actions so belligerently, needlessly over the top? What kind of deviant narcissist self-anoints himself, without irony, a “stable genius”? Why reek of racism, sexism, and sneering, winner-take-all pugnacity? Why turn pathetic whining into a major league obsession? Why blast away at laws and norms with ludicrous, demeaning personal insults (mocking a foe’s size, gender or appearance)?

Why in short contradict tested political conventions, falling over yourself to offend all but slavish fans? Or this week why overplay the dictator card, rampaging by overtly leveraging corrupt favoritism against Justice Dept. penalty recommendations on Roger Stone? Why constantly shoot the moon over issues large and small, devoid of context or strategy? It’s not just derangement or narcissism: being a chin-thrusting a-hole has been Trump’s raison d’être from the start.

In fact, gross bravado channels the tyrant’s way of declaring victory: think Mussolini. Glorying in seeming prowess, the idea is to humiliate all opponents (real and imaginary) by rubbing their noses in the dirt. Dictators don’t just win rigged elections; they invent lopsided, phony majorities, like 80%, when voters are split down the middle. Ditto, Trump “wins” the ’16 popular vote were it not for widespread “fraud.” Thus the 16K Trump lies: pathological lying exposes the void of inhibitions for juvenile acting out, with this clear message: the ruling “king” can say whatever he wants and escape all penalties.  This is no metaphor, per Trump’s boastful “survival” tweet after acquittal, invoking Emerson, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

Lording over the losers

Thus the presumptuous Trump schemes define (often symbolic) winning not as actual progress but the humiliation of foes: the optics of braggadocio reinforce why anointed “winners” are destined to always get their way. In this crooked model, only total power allows an autocrat to achieve the highest goal: make what was unacceptable weeks or months before seem acceptable, staunch public resistance be damned.  If power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely—and the clearest evidence demonstrates how to break all the rules with impunity.  That’s how tyranny is born, not with a whimper but overwhelming, even brutal shows of perceived dominance. 

Oddly enough for the world’s epic liar, what rational adults get IS what we see, now with post-impeachment, inexhaustible monotony.  Unless of course you are a fanatic Trumpster: then you have reality-be-damned, faith alone in Trump, expecting fantasy goodies any second to descend from on high. So, how does shredding public support cutting Food Stamps, health care or invisible job training programs for the 80% fly? Or big tax breaks only for the rich? Zero national infrastructure (except for the insane Wall)?  And the painful opposite today of “better healthcare for all,” perhaps the most scurrilous Trump campaign propaganda. 

We should be swamped with Trump fatigue—and his ruthless commitment to ignite as much chaos here and abroad as possible. One can’t criticize Trump—that mass of neurotic gut responses — either for in-depth strategic thinking or pitching the majority that rejects him (indeed 51% wanted him convicted and removed).  The worst liar in the world—for those with eyes and brains — is the clumsiest, most transparently corrupt politician in history.  Law, constraints, justice, fairness, independent agencies, co-operation—even the Constitution—have as much force or reality as his draft-dodging, phony bone spurs. And thus his inevitable, perpetual grievance everything is rigged. As Windsor Mann explains,”Trump wants to create the illusion that corruption is rampant so that we will ignore and excuse his actual corruption.”

A rough transparency

The good news is, despite the post-impeachment Trump onslaught, the 2020 electorate is hearing more than just his lies, deceptions and fake news. That makes this election a referendum on whether Americans can tolerate, let alone survive four more years of government by fiasco. Polls show most Democrats now topping Trump, so the actual nominee may be secondary.  Personally, I think Sanders has more electoral clout than competing Dems, especially in crossover states.

But in the end this election comes down to how repulsive is Trump by November—and that assumes more looming scandals, tell-alls and disgraces. In this context, I am intrigued with the latest political guru, Rachel Bitecofer, spot on about the 41 Congressional seats Dems won in ’18. She is all about emphasizing waves of turnout, less about specific candidates or issues than which side actually votes:
What if there aren’t really American swing voters—or not enough, anyway, to pick the next president? What if it doesn’t matter much who the Democratic nominee is? What if there is no such thing as “the center”?  . . . What if the outcome in 2020 is pretty much foreordained, too?

It would be sacrilege here to posit the Dem nominee makes no difference.  Defective candidates like the tired Biden or arrogant Bloomberg won’t win full party support, let alone carry the day.  Whatever, I leave you with two compelling final notions:

Max Boot: “This is how democracies die—not in darkness but in full view of a public that couldn’t care less.”

David Frum, “The unacceptable does not become more acceptable if it is accepted by increments.”

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Robert S. Becker
For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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