By Guy Somerset
In the home of a good friend hangs a clock with the visage of his President which chimes every hour, "Let's Make America Great Again!" Given this confrère's penchant for fine antiques it is a bit of an incongruity; though does make for amusing stares among the more liberal guests at dinner parties.
That even an individual so dignified surrendered to Trump hysteria, to say nothing of Trump kitsch, speaks volumes regarding the degree to which a broad swath of the public once credited the candidate.
Unfortunately it is increasingly apparent the trust of so many was disastrously misplaced. Moreover, we need not look at a timepiece but the calendar to recognize this reality. For benefit of future historians, the precise origin date of the Populist Trump implosion can be recorded. It was November 16, 2018.
How can one be so certain? Monitoring the plethora of supportive websites and social media accounts spanning the spectrum from begrudging Trump respect to veritable Trump mania it was on this date a sizeable number of former acolytes not only expressed great disturbance but outright rage at their man.
Within the span of barely 24-hours formerly isolated voices of dissent from Trump's most fervent enthusiasts became a chorus of disappointed acolytes. For a myriad of reasons his core base begrudgingly began to admit they may have been abandoned, bamboozled and perhaps betrayed.
Yet what of import occurred in mid-November to precipitate the deluge? That was roughly the date when Trump announced his Prison Reform bill, the First Step Act (which allows "nonviolent criminals" such as carjackers and child molesters to be freed from prison early). It was a policy issue which literally not one single member of his millions of voters had previously advocated - save perhaps a Kardashian.
This, coupled with an utter inability of the President to do nearly any of the things for which he was so ardently venerated, made for a bitter reassessment among his backers. Here are only a few of Trump's many failures and dubious successes:
1. No Wall - This is by a wide margin the most incongruous aspect differentiating Candidate Trump from President Trump. Rather than appearing on the southern border himself, shovel in hand, digging a foundation for The Wall there was nothing practical done at all. No effective funding. No action by Army Corps of Engineers. No declaration of National Emergency. As commentator Ann Coulter has aptly documented on a daily basis from the beginning - No nothing.
In the least satisfying scenario this ought to have been the top legislative priority. In the most gratifying scenario Martial Law on the border ought to have been declared in light of the continual invasion by foreign hordes. Instead, Trump Tweeted.
2. No Defense of American Sovereignty - There was no end to alleged "Birthright Citizenship" which in actuality does not and never has existed in the United States. (It was unethically adhered to after random dicta, which was not binding, in another Supreme Court case. Trump could and still can declare its continued practice null and void without delay. Later he could draft a formal bill to codify such a stance while simultaneously requesting the Supreme Court to rule on the matter under expedited review. Naturally, Trump being Trump, he did none of these things.)
Other less important though vital decisions which might have been made by a strong President with the well-being of his citizens at heart would have been the immediate adoption of the E- Verify system to ensure each person employed in the nation could be identified and, if not, then barred from working in the country.
Mass deportations of Illegal Invaders was another important step not taken by the callow inhabitant of the Oval Office. Several states have a National Guard which could have been used for this purpose. The populace on the border states could have been deputized by local Sheriffs for this task. Obviously, Federal ICE agents could have been used not in the current mishmash of targeted raids but as a national policing force to ensure the viability of America as a long-term serious nation.
Finally, the United States Armed Forces ought to have been martialed to the mission. (PosseComitatus, which forbids these branches to act on American soil, does not apply in the instance of an invasion. Indeed, defending the country from foreign invasion is the top priority of the U.S. Army.) Trump made none of these substantive deeds.
3. No Russian Détente - In the sphere of international diplomacy, for the United States there are only two nations of note - China and Russia. While there was some finesse of the trade status in Sino-American relations (whose ultimate efficacy remains to be determined) there was nothing done to further a rapprochement between the two vital Western bulwarks.
Much to the contrary, the infantile posturing by Trump has led to greater entanglement between China and Russia (a policy as fraught with peril and of questionable value to the Slavic country as the aforementioned U.S. trade dealings with the Asiatic power). The two most natural world allies have instead been set against one another by third parties. Though Trump is not entirely to blame for this he is to blame for not ameliorating it.
The apparent cause of inaction is the Trump obsession with disproving the lie that he was somehow influenced by Russian operatives during his campaign for office. Even though time and time again it has been demonstrably proved there was no official Russian connection to his candidacy he seems incapable of dismissing the Mass Media counterclaims as so much insipid nonsense. (For the record, many Russian individuals did have an opinion on whether he or Hillary would make a superior President - and despite the machinations of Mueller it is still not yet illegal for observers outside America to have a position on the matter.)
To his great credit, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly and magnanimously resisted the urge to retaliate against the many barbs and insults hurled his way from Washington. This is not a case of two parties incapable of coming to an agreement. Instead it is a weak man who is unable to overcome his fear of being called "bad names" or having a "poor reputation" coming to terms with a stronger personality who has consistently extended a gesture of friendship.
Had Trump been as self-assured of his own character as he pretends in his Tweets it would not matter what detractors said about him. On the contrary, it is apparently most of what occupies his days.
4. No Hillary in Jail - For as much as Candidate Trump railed about the blatant illegality and general unethicality of Hillary Clinton he has done remarkably little to hold the woman to account. It is beyond dispute there were numerous instances of financial impropriety and possible treasonous activities directly attributable to Clinton. She has admitted herself to destroying evidence of probable criminality.
There is a great deal of scrutiny which might be made into her involvement with Anthony Weiner and the Podesta Brothers and their involvement in sordid sexual matters. The arresting documents concerning the confiscation of Weiner's laptop have written in notes by an officer "Crimes Against Children" with some connection to Hillary. At least one reporter looking into Clinton Foundation shenanigans in Haiti and disappearances of underage children wound up dead. (Obviously a "suicide" - with Hillary a death is always a "suicide.")
Still nothing has been done. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions famously stated in America political opponents are not prosecuted. Yet no one intends to prosecute Clinton for losing an election. Millions want her prosecuted for her nefarious activities over the course of decades which have as their victims everyone from young interns to business moguls. Trump did nothing.
5. Complete Failure to Support His Supporters - One of the most despicable inactions of the Trump organization has been the near total abandonment of his supporters, especially in times of need.
At a juncture when there is literally no question electronic social media barons are suppressing and often silencing conservative (or even moderate) voices from the Digital Public Square the President has repeatedly failed to act in defense of the First Amendment. (Yes, the First Amendment does not apply to private industries. No, Twitter and Facebook are no longer strictly private businesses but have become the de facto Public Square at minimum and are engaging in viewpoint editing which is similarly actionable at the maximum. They could easily be forced to provide neutral platforms or else be held liable for views expressed.)
Likewise, several groups including Patriot Prayer, the Proud Boys and others (none of which this writer is a member nor has an affiliation) have been ruthlessly suppressed. These organizations have been demonized as "racist" (despite some being multiracial) or even "fascist" (as if anyone can define that term any longer) all while groups such as Antifa have engaged in actual violence.
In the city of Portland, Oregon Antifa in particular has been ceded policing powers, which they evidently use to beat up innocent motorists, on several occasions only last year. Trump has done nothing to balance the scales of justice to ensure non-violent speech (however reactionary) is preserved at the precise same time he has done everything to avoid punishing ultra-violent extra-legal entities from taking control of cities to the detriment of residents.
Another facet of this cowardly behavior is the lack of loyalty. While Trump is renowned for demanding adherence from his inner circle he seems utterly faithless in reciprocal fidelity. Several of the men who got Trump into power were abandoned when they were no longer useful to him or garnered the slightest critique: Bannon, Lewandowski, Flynn, Gorka and many others were all hung out to dry by a man so worried about his own standing he was incapable of performing as a man ought to do. An old saying is, "Dance with the one who brought you." Trump instead flits around like a slut on a drunk.
Of the supposed victories Trump has achieved in office? They are few and questionable:
1. The Jerusalem Embassy - The main benefit of this for the Trump base was it illustrated the candidate (when convenient) kept his word. It was apparently important for a sub-set of voters the Embassy be relocated. For the vast majority of Americans, friend and foe alike, it simply was not an issue. As for this aiding Trump with Jewish voters, it was a complete waste of political capital. In the most recent mid-term elections Jewish support for Trump was virtually nil.
2. North Korean Talks - Another apparent case of style over substance. While the return of the remains of American service members was an important outcome there seems little else which is of import. Talks were held and everyone went home. True, this is the nature of diplomacy; yet it can hardly be quantified as a victory at this juncture. North Korea has not demonstrably recalibrated their military stance. Some installations have been dismantled while many more remain. A few parades have shown less belligerence. The peninsula is talking and that is an overall benefit. Even so, there is more left to do than has been done.
3. Tax Reform - Another success which is less robust than it would appear. For one thing, tax reform is marginally politically important in a nation where only around half of voters pay income taxes. For another, these tax cuts sunset for the middle class after a few years. For yet one more, any benefit in the short term has increased the debt at a time more than a few economists believe another recession (worse than The Recession) is around the corner.
4. Health Care - A complete sham. From beginning to end this "victory" is nothing but a bailout to the insurance industry. Trump was unable to decisively repeal Obamacare and it is not entirely apparent whether that would even be a desirable outcome at present. Most of the insurance companies previously in business have either gone out of business or radically changed their model in the sense former coverage is unfeasible.
Moreover, the partial repeal and legal suits (one recently decided against the current program) have as their main objective to undermine pre-existing conditions and reduce coverage. For example, under the legalize of Trump such pre-existing conditions technically would be covered...only at premiums so expensive no one could afford them. Likewise, reduction in coverage would be so extreme not even pregnancy would be included. Such malfeasance is the very reason Obamacare was able to be passed in the House a decade earlier - any reasonable person believes everyone in America ought to have conditions covered at the same price and pregnancy ought to be an affordable enterprise. Trump is stabbing supporters in the back with many so deluded by partisanship they don't realize it.
5. The Supreme Court - Of all the accomplishments of Trump thus far this would appear to be the most legitimate. Unfortunately, it is an act which will take many years to adequately assess.
For example, Bush appointee John Roberts was a deciding factor in changing health care in America in the first place. (He may have been blackmailed concerning his making a possibly illegal adoption from Ireland.) Just last month Roberts again sided with liberal justices to ensure asylum rules could not be changed, a clear violation of purview. Recently the newest appointee, Judge Kavanaugh, agreed with the liberal members to deny hearing a case in which Planned Parenthood (an abortion provider in America) would have funding withheld.
It will be decades before it is known if Trump's judges are solid Constitutionalists or merely more of the Kritarchy who believe it is their religious duty to interpret the Founding Document on whatever emotional whim happens to be popular at any given time.
Admittedly, in recent days the President has shown some integrity in his withdrawal of troops from Syria and drawdown of personnel from Afghanistan. His partial shutdown of the government over funding is also admirable.
Still it should be obvious from the above none of these actions can be taken at surface value. Not until the military has touched down back in the United States should they be considered returned home. Indeed, following a visit to Israel John Bolton announced the removal of forces from Syria would not happen "immediately" as promised but instead be a slow and gradual process - one more Bait And Switch Trump has pulled on supporters.
As for the shutdown, already the language has gone from "brick and mortar wall" to "steel slats" to an amorphous "border security." Most distressingly, Trump has floated the concept of rewarding a gang of Felony Thieves known as "The Dreamers" with citizenship in exchange for his continually-eroding "fence."
Finally, the President has gone from a defender of American Workers who decried the H-1B Visa Scam to just another Corporatist shill lobbying on behalf of taking jobs from decent citizens and presenting those positions to a Scab Labor Force of immigrants who (contrary to Trump's canards) are not "highly educated" (at least compared to comparably educated Americans) and will work for half-wages until they are given residency they never earned to take benefits which rightfully belong to United States taxpayers.
Overall, the Trump Presidency has been far from beneficial to the American citizenry. He has failed in multiple ways to ensure the United States as an entity continues to thrive while at the same moment ensuring in many ways those personages most vital to its continued perseverance are punished.
There are many possible explanations for these failures: Trump may never have truly expected to be elected...Trump may be in fear for what will happen to him once he leaves office...Trump may simply not be intelligent enough to realize this is the deciding juncture for American endurance...Trump may be of far weaker character than many previously believed...Trump may simply have been the pussy he claimed to have grabbed...#GrabYourself
Whatever the reason, my mind sometimes returns to that clock which hangs like a Sword of Damocles in the home of my friend. Thinking upon the object, a curious aspect occurred to me. For all the times I have heard it chime, the thing only ever repeats the same sentence "Let's Make America Great Again!"
They are good words, but once you hear them ad nauseam all you become is nauseated.
Guy Somerset writes from somewhere in America.
More than 3,500 people were detained during unprecedented mass protests that swept across all of Russia in support of Alexey Navalny on January 23