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“Trumpery” and the Destruction of Democratic Institutions

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According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term “trumpery“ first appeared in the English language in the mid-15th century.

Webster’s 1913 Dictionary defined “‘Trump´er`y’ – n: 1. Deceit; fraud. 2. Something serving to deceive by false show or pretense; falsehood; deceit; worthless but showy matter; hence, things worn out and of no value; rubbish. a. 1. Worthless or deceptive in character; nonsensical talk or writing; ornamental objects of no great value.”

For someone who presents himself as a successful real estate model known for constructing high enduring structures, Donald J. Trump(ery) has operated as a deconstructor and a dumpster fire on the institutional structures of our democracy. Metaphorically, Donald Trump is the iceberg to our ship of state, the kryptonite to our super men and women, the wrecking ball to our historic landmarks, the final straw on our camel’s back.

Internationally, on Russia, for example, Trump encouraged Russia to cyberattack Hillary Clinton’s email server, and when the CIA and FBI offered conclusive evidence of Russia’s hacking into the Democratic National Committee, Trump issued continual denials and challenges to the efficiency and accuracy of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Recently, he destroyed U.S. options in helping to broker a peace deal by unilaterally declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and threatening to move the U.S. embassy there. Soon thereafter, Guatemala jumped on board the Trump clown car. Trump and his complicit United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, frayed our international standing by bullying nations who dared vote against U.S. actions. Earlier in his administration, Trump loosened our ties within the NATO alliance.

Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the latter action now opens wide the door for China to control trade throughout Asia.

Donald Trump, through words and actions, presents the U.S. to residents and leaders throughout the world as erratic and ineffective, as retreating from its stated position of defender of human rights and as a guardian against attack to our allies. Unfortunately, this President has alienated our closest international allies while cozying up with brutal dictators in Russia, the Philippians, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, among others.

Domestically, he has tapped the least qualified and least demographically diverse staff advisors and cabinet secretaries in modern history, most who have certified conflicts of interest in the positions they hold.

In his brief time in office, Trump has declared war on the environment by proposing a substantial budgetary reduction of an estimated 24% and a staff cut of 20% to the Environmental Protection Agency, consideration of lower automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards, relaxation of prohibitions against dumping toxins like coal ash into streams and rivers, reinstatement of the environmentally damaging Dakota Access and Keystone oil pipelines, and increased coal mining, natural gas, crude and scale oil drilling, and shrinking by approximately 2 million acres national monuments in Utah. And his administration’s efforts in helping to rebuild Puerto Rico following the hurricane have been slow and inadequate at best.

The just-passed Republican tax “reform” bill, which Trump openly endorsed, will grant huge tax deductions to corporations and the top 1% of the population, while ultimately raising taxes for many if not most middle- and working-class earners, and the possible gutting of the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the individual mandate, which reports indicate could throw 13 million people off health insurance.

The Republicans with Trump’s support have served up once again their so-called “trickle-down,” or more formally referred to as “supply-side,” economics in the latest incarnation of their tax reform law. “Trickle-Down” has also been referred to as the “Horse-and-Sparrow Theory”: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. Shit happens!

Trump’s assault on transgender people is stunning. He reversed an Obama-era policy that protected trans employees from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since Trump’s inauguration, the White House website has removed reference to LGBT issues and policies from the previous administration, and reversed an Obama-era executive order permitting trans students to use school facilities most closely aligning with their gender identities. And without warning or stated reasons, he fired the remaining members on hi HIV / AIDS council.

In other executive orders or tweet storms, Trump has expressed his intention to expel trans service members from the armed forces, and deport Dreamers, and Haitian refugees of the 2010 earthquake from the U.S.

On the issue of character, Trump has conducted a campaign of attack, innuendo, name-calling, character assassination, and misrepresentation toward anyone from all stations of life (and in particular, black people) who fail to bow down and kiss his ring or who challenge him on any level no matter who they are, including Gold Star families, black athletes, the cast of a Broadway musical, and even former political allies.

Trump has no love or need for knowledge or preparation, he has no apparent understanding of history or of science, and even less use for either. This President, rather, operates purely on emotion and instinct. He shoots from the mouth, and thrives on chaos, disarray, and perpetual infighting among his staff and advisors, whom he discounts when they attempt to give him counsel.

Throughout the remainder of his jaunt to the White House up to today, he has stepped over the bodies of Muslims, Jews, all women, black people, Latinx people of all nations, activists in Black Lives Matter since they do not matter to him, people with disabilities, bodies that do not fulfill his rigid standards of feminine beauty, prisoners of war, the military in general and military generals whom he knows more about how to defeat ISIS, Gold Star parents, women who have the audacity to fight to control their bodies and their own lives, transgender people of all ages, couples in same-sex relationships, invading “alien” immigrants, Dreamers, Haitian and Syrian refugees, and certainly anyone and everyone who disagrees with or criticizes him.

He offended Navajo military veteran heroes of World War II at an official White House ceremony by invoking the racist epithet “Pocahontas” to insult Senator Elizabeth Warren. And he fully endorsed a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alabama, Roy Moore, who has been accused of being a predator and abuser of underage girls when he was in his 30s.

We are increasingly seeing what has come to be known as “The Trump Effect” in which through Donald’s derisive and abusive words and actions, many young people mirror his behavior and react similarly against their peers.

While Donald Trump has no difficulty calling out those he sees as his political opponents, even within the Republican party, he jumps quickly to label bombings and trucks or cars plowing over people in Europe as “radical Islamic terrorists,” even well before the evidence is collected.

Simultaneously, he talked in vague terms about the murderous actions by neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, and he refused to call out the perpetrators by name. Trump ejaculated a moral equivalency argument between the white supremacists and demonstrators protesting xenophobic nationalism.

By failing to divest his vast business holdings worldwide, Donald Trump not only faces valid charges of conflicts of interest, but more importantly, possibly violates the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

He continually assaults the First Amendment’s “free speech” clause by going after the media. At press conferences, Trump tells reporters to “sit down” when they ask questions he doesn’t like, and he speaks of a “running war” with the media. He has even accused “freedom of the press” as the cause of terrorist bombings in the U.S. He repeatedly has threatened to sue the “crooked and lying” media (Lügenpresse, “lying press” popularized by the German Nazis to silence opposition).

He incessantly blasts “Islamic jihadist terrorists” as the number one threat to our nation, thus exposing U.S. Muslims to increased calls for travel bans from majority-Muslim countries, and a call for a “national registry” and surveillance to track their movements. In his near-obsessive calls for “law and order,” he has called for a return to draconian (and possibly unconstitutional) measures of torture and surveillance.

Assisted by the larger Republican Party and the Supreme Court, which has virtually gutted the 1965 Voting Rights law, Trump has supported measures like gerrymandering and other means resulting in voter suppression campaigns effectively reducing the number of polling stations in primarily minoritized racial communities, and limiting days and times for pre-election-day voting.

From what Trump proposes and his manner of presentation, he has continued his radical descent from his golden escalator to the lowest bowels of rhetoric and hurtful policy positions. Donald J. Trump imperils the entire world and brings us closer to horrors previously only imagined in science fiction (which is the only science he believes).

As the definition correctly warns, this Trump(ery) is “Worthless [and] deceptive in character; nonsensical [in] talk [and] writing; [a not-so] ornamental object…of no great value.”

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press).

Written by Warren Blumenfeld

December 29th, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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