Sunday, January 22, 2017

Trump's followers boo and jeer core democratic principles

The week before the inauguration I asked Six Days in January: Oh, my America - what have you done?. “In a mere six days the United States of America will inaugurate Donald Trump as its 45th president. On that day, my country will be led ruled by the Man from Moscow, the former Moskovian Candidate.”

I went on to answer my question. “On January 20th, Donald Trump, the Moskovian Candidate and his Troika, will take control of this country. That, America, is what you have done.”

But my focus on Trump and his Russian ties misses a deeper question, a question about the nature, behavior, and motivation of his followers. Here are snippets from two opinion pieces by other writers.

Is this what we’ve come to?

Dana Milbank writes in the Washington Post about the boos and jeers from the Trump mob at the inauguration. He asks Is this what we’ve come to, America?

It began at about the time Chuck Schumer, addressing the inauguration crowd from the Capitol, lamented that politics is “frequently consumed by rancor.”

It sounded at first, from my seat in the plaza below the inaugural platform, like a helicopter flying low over the mall, or perhaps an unusually loud jet taking off from Reagan National Airport. But I turned to discover the noise was the combined booing and jeering of thousands in the sea of red “Make America Great Again” caps.

They weren’t only booing and jeering Schumer, the highest ranking Democrat in the land; they were booing and jeering what he was saying.

What did Schumer say that was so intolerably offensive to the red hats?

“Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether we are immigrant or native-born, whether we live with disabilities or do not, in wealth or in poverty,” the Senate minority leader said, “we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country.”

“Today, we celebrate one of democracy’s core attributes, the peaceful transfer of power,” Schumer said. “And every day, we stand up for core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution — the rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion.”

If such ideas earn jeers in Trump’s presidency, the American carnage is only beginning.

Indeed: is this what we’ve come to?

If, as a descriptor of the red hats’ behavior, deplorable is not fashionable, will you let me have lamentable?

A legend in his own mind

With respect to the inauguration, Frank Bruni writes in the New York Times about The President Who Buried Humility. (h/t Paul McCreary)

Bruni writes “Donald Trump’s inauguration heralds a new age of arrogance and says something sad and scary.”

[In Trump’s speech] He characterized his election as part of “a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen.” Forget about his loss of the popular vote. Or his 40 percent favorability rating. Or the puny crowd at his inauguration in comparison with the throngs at Obama’s eight years ago. Trump remained a singular man on a singular mission — a legend in his own mind.

We’ve already become so accustomed to his egomania that we sometimes forget how remarkable it is. He’s a braggart beyond his predecessors in the Oval Office, and that says something sad and scary about the country that elected him and the kind of leader he’s likely to be. With Trump we enter a new age of arrogance. He’s the cock crowing at its dawn.

The thing is: if Trump’s supporters have so little belief in, so little confidence in, the “core democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution — the rule of law, equal protection for all under law, the freedom of speech, press, religion”, they may very well define “the kind of leader he’s likely to be.”

Those core principles are what made America great. By definition, then, Trump cannot "make America great again. Instead, what we have to look forward to is the acceptance of systematic destruction of our democratic institutions by those who believe Trump’s claim to be a legend. They should adopt a different slogan and redefine the hashtag #MAGA: Make America Go Awry.

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