We are now one week into the Donald Trump presidency so we get a chance to sense what might be ahead of us. For me, it still does not look good. For many of us who feared the worst, who saw the signs of the impending authoritarianism during the campaign of 2016, this inauguration week of January 2017 has been the initial breadcrumbs we feared.
The wave of executive orders; the inauguration speech that featured the word “carnage;” the vilification of minorities and the media; the threat to send the “feds” into a urban area where the former president’s just chief of staff happens to be the mayor; the return of torture; and the closed-off nature of the government in the initial weeks is not the picture of a Mr. Smith-as-the-populist-billionaire-comes-to-Washington. No, this is not “1984” (yet) but President Trump’s first week certainly has the initial overtones of Misters Franco and Mussolini. (I’m not going to mention the other guy just to the northeast in Germany.)
But I will take the next sentence to mention the another guy in the same ilk: Steve Bannon. After November 9, 2016 this is the one person I worried about the most. The shadowy, quiet ones are the people you need to fear and pay attention to because they are the people who hold the most sway over the people in power. Sure enough, in the opening week it appears that Bannon has spent most of the tumultuous times since Election Day plotting the opening acts of these important first 100 days.
Bannon, who cut his teeth in the false propaganda media world of Breitbart “News,” has ties to the Neo Nazi “alt-right” white supremacy movement. He has ties to the European Fringe Right movements that in turn have ties to the Vladimir Putin regime, who in turn worked to get Trump elected. The snake finally gets around to eating its own tail. Or, in their perfect world, the circle has finally closed and Putin and the Russian oligarchy have finally installed the people they need to put a close on getting a full run on the world. But back to Bannon.
If the initial reports are correct, Bannon wrote most of these initial executive orders. Bannon has the ear of the president. Bannon, and Flynn and probably a few others like Conway and the Trump family, are the most important people at the table. The others in the inner circle— Sean Spicer and Reince Preibus — came in to make the Republican establishment happy but little else. They are immediately expendable. There are some initial reports as much and Spicer, who is nearly as laughable as “Baghdad Bob”, will not last long in front of the press. At least unless the Daily Stormer and InfoWars get access and the Associated Press gets removed. Then we truly are in “1984” territory.
Trump spent his first big press availability as President going to one of the most sacrosanct places in the D.C. area — the wall of stars for fallen officers at CIA headquarters. It was a moment where he could have made amends with the intelligence community by talking about the sacrifices of those great officers or even just a general statement about how he now knew that he needed to have their support for the important work ahead.
But no. It’s Trump. He brought a cheering section then spoke about crowd sizes from the previous day’s inauguration. All the while, those stars of fallen officers, men and women who worked day and night to do work that no one will ever understand in the harshest of environments with no public credit or acknowledgment, staring him in the back. Trust me, those stares were daggers. It was a travesty. It was just his first day.
We have learned that Trump is more worried about his vanity than anything else. This is no surprise but it should worry us as Americans because you can imagine that every world leader — especially those in nations who want to poke at us — is paying rapt attention. The president has abilities to send Americans into dangerous places with the stroke of a pen or a simple passphrase uttered into a Situation Room microphone in the dead of a D.C. night. People will jump to attention and brave Americans can die just because a world leader damaged his vanity and ego. It can, and it will, happen.
I have come to Medium to call attention to the idea that American democracy has been taken to a very precarious place. While I am buoyed by the recent marches and this amazing resistance movement that I am a willing participant of, there are things taking place in halls of power right now that frighten me to no end. The Trump administration is going to ask many of us to make choices and sacrifices that will be uncomfortable and dangerous so they can get what they want. I do not write this lightly. I do not think they are banking on a civil war but rather they believe we are weak and will wilt away. We must prove them wrong. The more we do not, the more the tide will wash toward them.