Waiting for the tweet storm
by Tom Sullivan
Donald Trump ought to like hurricanes. They upend pretty much everything and bring chaos to millions of lives. Very Trumpian. It's their public cost that makes them unattractive, probably, plus the mess, discomfort, and disruption of tee times. Hurricanes are indiscriminate in their destruction. Trump is more selective in his wrath and more predictable.
Waiting all week for Florence to creep slowly into these parts was like watching paint dry. Waiting this morning for Trump to rage-tweet about Hillary Clinton's post last night in The Atlantic feels comparable. Maybe no one has yet read him the quote about "the unspeakable cruelty" of his treatment of families and children at the border. Maybe no one dares tell him she wrote of his "monstrous neglect of Puerto Rico" where (he denies) 3,000 died from the effects of Hurricane Maria and his administration's failed response.
But like Florence arriving, Trump's blowup is just a matter of waiting. Tweets so far this morning are boilerplate boasts about the economy.
Clinton has, like Obama before her, taken her time about speaking out so forcefully about the Trump presidency. Last night she bluntly and deliberately described his presidency as a crisis for democracy.
It is an assault on the rule of law. It casts doubt on the legitimacy of our elections. Trump is waging "a war on truth and reason." His administration's corruption is "breathtaking." Perhaps worst, he is undermining the national cohesiveness that makes democracy itself possible.
An attorney herself, Clinton builds her case point by point.
But Trump is a symptom, not the cause, of the authoritarianism threatening the country, Clinton writes:
Over many years, our defenses were worn down by a small group of right-wing billionaires—people like the Mercer family and Charles and David Koch—who spent a lot of time and money building an alternative reality where science is denied, lies masquerade as truth, and paranoia flourishes. By undermining the common factual framework that allows a free people to deliberate together and make the important decisions of self-governance, they opened the way for the infection of Russian propaganda and Trumpian lies to take hold. They've used their money and influence to capture our political system, impose a right-wing agenda, and disenfranchise millions of Americans.They have pursued the kind of antidemocratic, "unregulated, predatory capitalism" that has created massive "economic inequality and corporate monopoly power" inimical to the American way of life. Politics has become a blood sport.
There is a tendency, when talking about these things, to wring our hands about “both sides.” But the truth is that this is not a symmetrical problem. We should be clear about this: The increasing radicalism and irresponsibility of the Republican Party, including decades of demeaning government, demonizing Democrats, and debasing norms, is what gave us Donald Trump. Whether it was abusing the filibuster and stealing a Supreme Court seat, gerrymandering congressional districts to disenfranchise African Americans, or muzzling government climate scientists, Republicans were undermining American democracy long before Trump made it to the Oval Office.For healing the body politic, we will need to pursue the kind of ethical reforms put in place after Nixon resigned, Clinton continues, as well as election reforms and reinforcement of voting protections.
Now we must do all we can to save our democracy and heal our body politic.
And ultimately, healing our country will come down to each of us, as citizens and individuals, doing the work—trying to reach across divides of race, class, and politics and see through the eyes of people very different from ourselves. When we think about politics and judge our leaders, we can’t just ask, “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” We have to ask, “Are we better off? Are we as a country better, stronger, and fairer?” Democracy works only when we accept that we’re all in this together.That last is perhaps the most anti-Trump sentiment in Clinton's post. For all the patriotic bluster, veneration of the founders, and public reverence for the country's founding documents, it has long been obvious many on the right break faith with the U.S. Constitution after the first three words in it. There is no "we" in their America, nor in Trump's. There is only "I" and "me."