At the moment, our country suffers many ills. National anger, resentment, a sense of lethargy, lost direction and distrust of government and other traditional institutions. Poll after poll after endless poll confirm the national despair. It’s real. It’s palpable. It’s weighing us down and sapping energies like nothing in my lifetime.
Some pundits lay blame for all this at the feet of one D. Trump. Not totally so, I think. The symptoms and feelings, existed years before he got the political bug and became the darling of a too-willing media. At best, it seems he can be charged with brutishly using all this as a basis for a deeply flawed - but successful - candidacy. He turned them into tools with which he played to suspicions, pumped up fear, posited lies as truths, offered false hope of change and a return to some mythical country that never existed. He even created a fictional D. Trump. He’s still doing it. And will continue.
Those who believe he’ll lead this nation to some sort of political nirvana have always been with us. But two things have changed - they’ve found someone to lead them who has international access - and the Internet.
I’ve known some of these disparagers of America all my life; successfully avoiding them mostly because they appeared singly or in small groups. Remember the John Birch Society? Or the Liberty Lobby? But it’s been the I-Net that’s given voice and a realization there are others with whom they can connect. And they have.
Proof of this personal theory can be found on your own little computer machine daily. In large measure. Someone invents a name or website - bleedingpatriotsforamerica.com - and suddenly others, eager for affirmation of their flawed beliefs, copy and paste what was only the raving of a drunken individual at two in the morning in a Michigan basement. Then, someone you don’t even know - but who’s a “friend-of-a-friend” on some “social” media site - splashes it on your screen and the lie spreads like rippling water. You don’t have to be Breitbart or Drudge or Beck. You just need the I-net and a keyboard.
In those months of the worst presidential contest of a lifetime, it was Trump who had the keyboard. He didn’t invent the anger and malaise - he just organized it. He called it a presidential campaign, captured a national media of sycophants willing to act as his unpaid campaign team/ad agency, regurgitated all the angry bile of the disaffected, added some of his own and played sucker donors out of dollars to be paid to his own companies to cover his expenses.
I’ve said for months the guy doesn’t want to be president. Why would he? Money? Fame? Power? He has all those in spades. “Make America Great Again?” How? Is he saying or proposing things to reshape the country in a positive, world leadership role? Is he talking like a leader? Thinking like a leader? Acting like a leader?
Then there’s the issue of his businesses and financial affairs. The guy has proven himself to be someone who has to be - MUST BE - in charge of everything around him. Did he truly put all that in a blind trust? Did he give access to his personal/business fortunes to anyone else? Anyone? Would he actually give up “control?”
The only thing we do know is he’s a pain in the national political ass. He’s coalescing his angry followers and continues to feed the anger and division we now contend with.
Our familiar, traditional national political base has radically changed in these past 20 months. That’ll continue. Both parties are losing members. More and more people think of themselves as independents or unaffiliated. Minority voters are growing at an unprecedented rate and studies repeatedly show they want to be politically active. Voters - and major donors - are turning to state politics. Congress - proving itself ineffective and rife with partisanship - is becoming less of a factor in how this nation deals with its problems.
This all makes for a national malaise of uncertainty. Uncertainty can scare people. It can disappoint. It can disaffect and alienate countries around the world with whom we have to work. It can be a breeding ground for bad decision-making. If it continues long enough, it can alter the course of a nation.
No, D. Trump didn’t bring us to this trying time. We’ve done it to ourselves in many ways. But, he’s been clever enough, loud enough and manipulative enough to take full advantage of the situation. More than it ever should, where we go from here depends - in great measure - on how we deal with this guy. That’s a national problem we must fix. Quickly.