Donald Trump Has Let Everybody Down
For many of us who saw the disaster of Trump coming, nothing that he has done is particularly surprising. Disgusting? Yes. Shocking? Sure. Depressing? Definitely. Not surprising though. Trump is an easy study, only pundits and Republican voters have a hard time getting a read on him. But I find the people who placed their faith in Trump— to varying degrees — to be fascinating. They put a lot of trust in Trump and he continually botched it. It’s sort of incredible.
The list of would-be appeasers was long after his surprise election victory. Few people were excited about Trump as president, but many Serious Men thought maybe they could make the best of it. They could not. Silicon Valley elites, for example, jumped at the chance to sign onto Trump’s “Strategic and Policy Forum” advisory group. Most did this not because they were thrilled with the idea of working with a wannabe fascist, but because they assumed they could influence him. Get Trump to see things a little differently. Many, including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, hoped they could even get him to soften on immigration — the central scapegoat in his grotesque campaign.
He ignored all of them. Six months in, many on the advisory board have left in frustration. Trump’s “beleaguered” Attorney General Jeff Sessions has enacted a widespread policy of blanket xenophobic persecution. ICE agents are holding stake outs at women’s shelters, schools, and hospitals. Meanwhile, Trump just yesterday delivered some of the most disgustingly racist anti-immigrant rhetoric of his career, painting immigrants as “animals” who enjoy killing young, “beautiful” (read: white) teens in sadistic ways. The most powerful billionaires and tech moguls in the country accomplished exactly jack shit. Fox and Friends had more influence on him than all of their collective efforts.
Trump let down Caitlyn Jenner. A woman who has made being a gay-rights advocating Republican her brand is getting repeatedly played by Trump. Even as recently as a month ago, she sat down with Katy Perry and some other celebs and limply defended Trump (2017 is weird, idk), and the result was Trump not giving a shit. At the very first opportunity, Trump seized on the issue of trans rights as a useful wedge he could exploit to fire up his most bigoted supporters.
The cruelest twist: Trump has almost no interest — one way or the other — in trans people. His attacks on them derive solely from a cynical ploy to give himself cover following one of the worst weeks in his, or any other, administration’s history. The trans community is small and reviled by the key demographic in his party and therefore made the perfect targets. Did he think of his friend and defender Caitlyn Jenner when he decided to ban trans people from the military? No. Because Trump does not give a shit about Caitlyn Jenner or anyone else. Jenner says she’s lost friends for defending Trump, Trump won’t even lose a minute of sleep in burning her.
Trump let his own voters down. He got a lot of support from the “working class” in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania by promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington and bring blue collar jobs back in these decimated regions. This was all bullshit, not just because Trump doesn’t care (he doesn’t), but also because what he was promising was a fantasy. The jobs weren’t coming back. His big publicity stunt, a heroic save of factory jobs in Indiana turned out to be 100% bullshit, the net effect of which gave a bunch of taxpayer money directly to the owners of the factory while still allowing them to layoff hundreds of workers.
Trump failed to “drain the swamp” as well, instead engaging in the “swamp” tactics of hooking friends up with cushy jobs and dealing in levels of corruption that would make Nixon blush. At first chance, he hired a bunch of bankers to run his White House. A bunch of donors and friends followed. The result: His government is more dysfunctional than any in modern history, surely the exact opposite of what a supporter of “drain the swamp” would have hoped for. On top of that, he bailed on his promise to replace Obamacare with a better alternative. The fact that the Republicans had no better alternative was not Trump’s lie, but he took it and ran with it. Now his own voters, many of them extremely poor, are facing death or bankruptcy because they voted for a reality tv star who sold them promises as fictional as his Celebrity Apprentice persona.
Trump let down Republican lawmakers. Paul Ryan is putting on a brave face all things considered, but if he thought having a Republican president, even one as fundamentally unfit for office as Trump, in the White House would make things easier for him, he failed to understand that Trump’s character flaws couldn’t be contained and aimed squarely at liberals — he has shit shooting out of both ends and making a mess of everything. Trump is so monumentally incoherent and so patently narcissistic that any serious attempt at setting an agenda goes over his head and often gets personally derailed by his flailing. The result has been a level of dysfunction in the capital that made the last decade of record dysfunction look like a dream. The consequence isn’t that Republicans are not getting things done, they are achieving some of their very cruelest policies, but they are forced to achieve them in the most unsettling, undemocratic, and unpopular ways imaginable. Ryan and his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell are overseeing the destruction of American democracy because it was that or admitting Trump let them down and they fucked up in supporting him in the first place. It’s a small comfort to the people who will surely suffer due to their actions, but it is among the only sure thing in an unsure time that history will judge Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell as among the worst men in this century. Quite a legacy.
Trump let down every single person in Washington who agreed to work with him on the premise that they could offer a “check” on Trump’s impulsive behavior. Instead of limiting his damage, Trump has repeatedly humiliated anyone who gets in his sphere. H.R. McMaster, a decorated general with a lot of credibility going into Trump’s White House, has come out covered in dog shit. So has Sean Spicer, a longtime Republican mover-and-shaker, and now international laughing stock. Ditto for Rex Tillerson. And James Comey. And the dozens of serious policymakers who have stepped down from various roles in the administration after discovering that not only can they not save the country from the inside, but that they are part of destroying it every day they punch the clock.
Trump has even let down his most racist supporters. He’s not building their wall. His Muslim ban is fucked. He’s not going to return America to the heady days of Nazi Germany. He’s going to be a blundering, incompetent moron destroying the country through sheer ineptitude. His bigoted policies are oftentimes so poorly implemented that they don’t even qualify as half-assed. Which isn’t to say the racists will abandon him, they will probably stick with him until the bitter end. When you are a white supremacist, Trump is about as good as you can expect to ever get. You can only hope that through his flailing and pathological indifference to human suffering, he enacts a few policies that hurt the people you hope to hurt before the whole thing comes down.
We are living in a nightmare. People have said as much in far more eloquent ways, but that’s the long and short of it. This is a disaster as great as any in U.S. history. Professional troll and part-time senior editor at Business Insider Josh Barro recently declared that Trump’s incompetence only proves the country doesn’t need government — a conclusion so astoundingly myopic that Josh should be legally barred from driving until he gets an eye examine.
The answer, of course, is that the collapse of a nation takes time. The newscycle may be spinning like a pulsar but the full effects of the damage being caused by Trump won’t be felt or understood for many years.
In the meantime, I guess we’ll continue to all pretend this is fine. Which it’s not.