Our World Has Been Turned Upside Down
President Trump visited Kenosha, Wisconsin yesterday not to meet with Jacob Blake and his family, but to meet with the police who shot him.
When Trump announced his planned visit, both the governor of Wisconsin and the mayor of Kenosha asked him not to come fearing more violence.
When asked about the minor with an illegal gun who shot 3 people, killing 2 during protests in Kenosha, Trump replied that the minor shot in self-defense because he feared that he was going to be killed by the unarmed protesters who were chasing him and trying to take away his rifle after he had killed his first victim.
None. Of. This. Is. Normal.
Boomers are very unpopular these days, but one way that we can add value to society is our memory of what happened in the past. Some of those historical events that young people promptly forget after taking the final, were our lives.
Including presidents and the norms of presidential behavior. My first conscious memory of a president is JFK. Like other Americans of that era, I remember where I was when the news of his assassination was announced. Second-grade classroom. The teacher and most of the students burst into tears after the announcement. I wasn’t sure how to react because my parents were staunch Republicans and hated him.
I watched the Watergate hearings live while on summer vacation from high school. I got a lot of ironing done during those hearings because my mother wouldn’t allow me to just sit around and watch TV. I ironed the family laundry so it wouldn’t look like I was “just” watching TV. I knew that I was witnessing history and didn’t want to miss it.
Trump has been compared to Nixon, but I don’t think that’s fair to Nixon. Nixon may have broken the law, but he respected the Office of the President. He had served as a Representative then-Senator from California and as Eisenhower’s Vice President. He understood the tripartite government and checks and balances.
Trump, on the other hand, is an ignorant businessman with no government experience or even knowledge of how our government works. He thinks the president is the CEO of America. He has been trying to run the country like he ran his business, doing whatever he wants whether legal or illegal and if it’s illegal, his lawyers will sue until the problem goes away. In Bill Barr, he has finally found an Attorney General who is willing to turn the Justice Department into Trump’s personal law firm.
I was quite frankly shocked when both the governor of Wisconsin and the mayor of Kenosha asked Trump not to visit, fearing more violence. I don’t recall a single president being told to stay away from a city for fear that his presence would make a volatile situation worse.
I don’t recall a single president calling for violence from his supporters. And Trump has been doing it since he was running for office in 2016. He neither knows nor cares that there are certain norms of presidential behavior.
I don’t recall a single president using Federal forces as his own private army to be dispatched or threatened to be dispatched to cities run by mayors of the opposing party, supposedly to keep order against peaceful protestors exercising their right to free speech.
I don’t recall a single president defending murderers.
My point is that we have grown so accustomed to Trump’s outrageous, norm-shattering behavior that we have become numb to it. We have normalized his behavior, forgetting how normal presidents are supposed to conduct themselves.
Our world and our expectations have been turned upside down. An outlaw president who defends murderers and tries to stifle free speech in the name of “law and order” is considered normal now.
Trump has set us against each other. You are either for him or against him. And if you are against him, watch out. It is now open season on anyone who opposes him.
There is a tradition in the US that no matter how bitter the campaign, the candidate who wins the presidency extends an olive branch to the supporters of the losing candidate, promising to be the president of all Americans.
I am confident that Biden would respect that tradition. He would do his best to start the country on the path to healing from the deep wounds of the Trump presidency. He would try to unite us.
I am equally confident that Trump would break this tradition as he has broken so many other traditions.
When he was elected, I said that we were on the road to fascism. I was told that I was overreacting, that the checks and balances of our government and the great traditions of our democracy would prevail, that Trump would grow into the office, that he would surround himself with wise councilors who would educate him about his new responsibilities.
I wasn’t overreacting. None of that happened. Trump has warped both the Office of the President and our government and court system. Time is growing short to save what is left of our democracy. We must send a decisive message in November.
Vote. Not like your life depends on it, but because all of our lives and our country depend on it.