The most outrageous Trump scam – that he ‘loves America,’ fosters greatness and serves the public 

In the end MAGA will be the greatest fraud of all, instead getting renamed by historians MTGA, Make Trump Great Again.

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How exactly does voter fraud, election-denial, insurrection, inciting mob violence, wacko pardons, illicit fundraising and espionage confirm love of country or a whiff of greatness? 

Recently, a close friend/activist talked to an articulate, fellow organizer who happens to be a neighbor and Republican. So naturally Trump’s unavoidable misadventures come up – and no need to walk on eggshells, like last year’s family Thanksgiving. Though Republican, she’s not spitting with grievance (too sharp and well-informed) yet admits repugnance for Trump’s belligerence, nastiness and rule-breaking. Then with admirable (if shocking) honesty, she offers this defense: “for most in my party, Trump’s negatives are offset by his love of country and his redeem America agenda.” 

No news that Trumpers consider themselves intense patriots and venerate Trump as the only patriot they trust. But what justifies such belief, let alone undeserved loyalty, considering all the astonishing things he didn’t do for their betterment? Of course, like Trump, the MAGA crowd hardly loves today’s America – a corrupt swamp, seething with carnage and forever betraying true, heartland Americans. Such partisans can’t abide Washington or moderate politicians, secular, big-city minorities, women demanding control of their lives, gay people (married or not), Democrats, plus scads of irreligious sinners enjoying godless sex. 

Trump, though he talks the talk, waves the flag and on cue bellows America First, does not count patriotism (or religion) among his 15 top life drives, namely tons of money, fame, status, lying, power, holding on to power, law-breaking, escaping punishment, parading his genius, demagoguery, sex appeal, domination (of women and losers), brotherhood with dictators, cultivating his ignorance, and demonizing foes, critics and enemies. The embittered Trump so rejects modern America that one puzzles why he once invoked Mark Twain’s adage, “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.” “Your government” here equals “my government” for Trump, hook, line, and secret documents. Like seditious Confederates, Trumpers only support the American “government” when controlled by them. Where’s high-minded patriotism by defying any election they lose as rigged – with certified winners automatically illegitimate, unAmerican cannibals? Patriotism, like pregnancy, is an either/or value, not blins partisanship. 

Indulgence of self-love 

So, where is any real-world proof that aggrieved, violent, anti-democratic Trumpism bespeaks loyalty to any rational definition of patriotism? If Trump does “love America” (for making him a billionaire, electing him president?), what did he actually do (or push) that improved the “general welfare”? Instead, only sneering cynics find “greatness” in stealing state secrets, thus jeopardizing national security? Or abusing certified elections? Or inciting violent riots to intimidate Congressional mandates? Bungling the pandemic? Attacking the FBI for obeying the law? Increasing everyone’s debt with tax giveaways for the rich people? Shredding environmental protections? Neglecting infrastructure (despite promises)? Refusing health care or lowering drug prices (despite promises)? Palling around with totalitarians? Lying 30K times in four years, as in seven whoppers for every White House meal? The scorecard on Trump greatness is dwarfed by exactly the opposite: nuking America’s future based on law, order and justice. 

Still I get why Trumpers like the seemingly anti-establishment Trump, even have some sympathy with demands to change a system that grossly awards the top 5-10%. But as ex-Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner explains, we part ways when it comes to justification or choice of their defective saint:

The MAGA movement has provided many of its adherents with an identity, a source of personal meaning, and a cause for which to fight. They have created a narrative in which they are heroic figures fighting malevolent forces. They find psychological satisfaction in relentless conflict; their lives seem more vivid and more purposeful within MAGA’s ever-combative frame. Politics has become, for them, an ersatz religion. In this activated state, they are not reachable by reason or open to amelioration. In fact, many in MAGA World are looking for reasons to take offense, to feel victimized, to lash out.

Thus, however much they reject Trump’s bluster, criminality, and totalitarian lurches, millions project goodness on the movement and by default its leader. Anger is justified against the status quo but is then undermined by lurching into disruption (read: damage) against what they claim to love – or the fantasy of a golden age of American greatness. What’s remarkable is that Trumpers hear bitter, scornful, moralistic complaints against the American majority and culture as “evidence” Trump must love what they claim to love. With this facile logic, they magically twist blatant selfishness into a made-up, laughable commitment to help others? Why else, fans posit, would an old, rich TV celebrity, addicted over a lifetime to follow every whim and appetite, join the hardscrabble of politics if he didn’t have good intentions? Why would he risk humiliation (mostly self-inflicted) if he didn’t want to do good, just like other inspirational religious figures? Hallelujah and pass the ammunition.

Those victims who took Trump “seriously but not literally,” as quipped early on, swallowed his ruthlessly calculated pitch only to spit out, “he’s one of us, speaks the truth, and wants to help us.” Beyond Pied Piper mass indoctrination, desperate Trumpers projected what they wanted to hear, finding solace in Trump’s ferocious jeremiads justifying their grievance. Don’t end of the world visions, however, undermine the entire purpose of patriotism? Down to earth, when has Trump ever acted from disinterested motives? That he abruptly throws under the bus even slavish loyalists who don’t bow and scrape speaks to bad faith, not good intentions. 

Bottom line for loving America

No one can “love one’s country” without loving its core institutions, like fair elections, the law, and the Constitution. No one loves America by seditiously poisoning majority rule. No one loves America by aligning it with predatory tyrants, not historic, democratic allies. No one loves America without knowing, then respecting all of American history, not perversely-sanitized rightwing propaganda. It takes no divine message to know that Trump revels in self-love, the heroic titan who breaks every (legal, party or political) rule and still ends up a winner. His ultimate goal is to make such an epic splash this time is notched “the Era of Trump.” 

Clearly, the Conniver-in-chief never learned on the job what it is to be a real president. But his malignant narcissism nevertheless drives him for re-election just to prove he can do it (even fail again). He wants to refute a lifetime of fierce enemies and career scorners who dared question his daring and greatness. His last hurrah is to prove that however obvious the hustle, this singular media mastermind can still pull it off – because he’s Trump. Finally, even if denied the presidency, his backup play is as party kingmaker until he breathes his last, harboring his deluded dreams of transforming a tawdry real estate operator into an historic giant. 

In the end MAGA will be the greatest fraud of all, instead getting renamed by historians MTGA, Make Trump Great Again. If Trump needs to be the super-patriot and promise the moon, so be it. He glories in the action and play of the con, caring nothing who and what gets destroyed in the crunch. Hugging the flag is hugging himself and he would hug a duck if it brought him his version of transitory glory. For me, he is the anti-patriot who steamrollers whatever positive value stands in his way – and hard-won American institutions and traditions top the list when denying the genius of Queens who managed to conquer hinterland rubes. 

“Loving America” is beyond Trump because that would mean loving something other than self. That makes MAGA an American tragedy as Trumpers I think do love something beyond themselves, however suckered to the unpatriotic Conniver-in-chief. Both parties, however, will go down hard, buying into the satiric, ironic line from the movie Love Story (without getting the joke), “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” In my world, love means the opposite, though only a fool would expect either Trump or Trumpers to apologize. 

FALL FUNDRAISER

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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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