Let me just say this

This is my 10th time voting for President of the United States.  Presidential candidates always frame the coming election as the most important in our lifetimes, an epic and consequential choice with the outcome harkening either the salvation or the damnation of the nation.  This time it might not just be hype, it could very well be true.

Three days before he was inaugurated the 45th President of the United States, I wrote the following as the second post to this blog about Donald Trump:

Mimicking the spastic movements of a disabled man should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Urging his supporters to “beat the crap out of them” referring to people exercising their constitutionally guaranteed first amendment right to protest him should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Bragging that he could grab women by the “pussy” (his exact word) against their will, thus committing sexual assault, should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Peddling a crazy-assed conspiracy theory that the Cuban father of one of his Republican primary opponents was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Repeating as fact disproven stories from Internet chain e-mails that have been indented so many times from being FWD’d to FWD’d to FWD’d from inbox to inbox that you can barely read them should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Claiming he could not release his tax returns as every major party candidate for president has done for the last 40 years because he was under an IRS audit even though the IRS said their audit placed no such restriction on him should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Suggesting the US might not honor its NATO treaty obligations to its allies should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Not knowing what the US nuclear triad is when asked about it should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Proposing that nuclear proliferation in places like Japan and South Korea would be a good thing should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.   Lying by saying that he watched thousands of Muslims cheering on 9/11 in Jersey City, New Jersey when police say there's no evidence this happened should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Suggesting that we as a nation should use torture as a means of extracting information from those we have detained in the war on terror should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Promising to defeat ISIS, end the civil war in Syria, resolve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, thwart Iranian aggression and Russia’s reemergence as a hostile superpower, repeal Obamacare which provides health insurance and therefore healthcare to millions who previously did not have it and replace it with something, to use his words, “way better,” all while bringing jobs back to America without offering any serious specifics on “how” he’s going to accomplish any of this should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.

That was then — January 17, 2017.  Still reeling from the crushing blow Hillary Clinton’s defeat sent through the progressive community, all we could do was reflect on how Trump had gotten to this point and hope that the gravity of the office he was to be sworn-in to would “change” him, that he would “pivot,” that he would accept the responsibility to lead all Americans and rise to the challenge.

Now, almost four years later, he has shown us that he cannot and will not.  He said he would go to Washington DC as the ultimate outsider, beholden to no one, and "drain the swamp.”  Far from draining it, he has, like a cartoonish Svengali, remade the swamp to suit his selfish purposes, methodically attacking the bulwark of democratic governance by unleashing dangerous swamp creatures and overpowering the fail-safes we the people rely on to ensure we do not sink deeper into the muck.  Whether Trump gets another term in office will decide if his provocative, unrestrained by precedent or even decency, disruptive presidency is an aberration in the history of this country or will permanently transform America and America’s place in the world.

Trump has made it clear that becoming the first impeached president to win reelection would validate his brand of bigoted white grievance, allowing him to unleash a far more unvarnished form of his hardline xenophobic nationalist ideology, his elevation of fact-free ignorance and conspiracy-laden rhetoric, and his utter contempt for decorum and civility.  He would become all but unstoppable in his effort to fully weaponize the institutions of the US government, bending them not in service of the people who chose him to lead but to his own whim and profit.  Vindicated by victory, the President would likely double down on his attacks on racial and culture war boogeymen, warning that White, Christian America is in danger of being “replaced" by changing demographics.  He likely would be even more devoted to his loyal supporters — both inside and outside government — who see his calls to lock up his opponents and blame science-respecting doctors and public health officials for COVID-19’s effect on the economy and joblessness as the embodiment of the freak show carnival barker they sent to destroy the Washington establishment that, while imperfect, kept their baser instincts in check.

A Trump victory would be yet another sharp stick in the eye to pollsters and pundits who predicted he was heading for defeat and would confirm his unorthodox approach to transactional governance.  Emboldened, a second term almost certainly would feature an American government staffed solely by his acolytes, who would, unquestioningly, carry out his wishes and hamstring the Constitutional structures put in place by the founders, structures that have, even at times of great political and societal upheaval, largely worked to guarantee the American political freedoms that make this nation not only the envy of the world but its guiding star.

In Minnesota on Friday, Trump said, "Four years ago we had a very, very exciting time, this is even more exciting and frankly, this is a more important election and I never thought I'd be saying that ... this is it.  This is the history of our nation, this is a very, very big moment for our country.”

Finally!  Something out of his mouth I agree with — this is a very, very big moment for our country.

The most immediate impact of a second Trump term would be management (or mismanagement) of the COVID-19 crisis, a disaster that the White House has largely stopped trying to contain.  The battle between the President and the government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has spilled-out into public view with Trump saying yesterday he likely will fire Fauci in a second Trump administration, a move which signals loud and clear his intention to pursue a policy that looks more like herd immunity, which experts say could cost hundreds of thousands more lives and is advocated by Trump's new favorite adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, who is a radiologist and not, it bears repeating, NOT a specialist in infectious diseases, NOT even an infectious disease doctor — he reads and interprets x-rays for a living.

Trump would prioritize economic recovery over any effort to slow the pandemic that is now as bad as it has ever been, and is getting worse, all while he holds dangerous rallies, mocks mask-wearing, and claims, against the evidence, that as a country we are “rounding the corner” and the end of the death, sickness, and disruption to our lives is near.  A Trump win would have dire consequences for the health plans millions of Americans rely on to treat illness and injury, enshrine draconian immigration policies, prolong and enflame the long smoldering embers he has ignited over race, and will impact hundreds of millions of people outside America who have no say in an election that shapes their lives as Trumpism empowers fascism across the planet.  While the President claims to have restored respect for America around the globe, he has done the opposite; there are fears in Europe that a second Trump term would irrevocably weaken the transatlantic alliance and could even call the existence of NATO into question at the very time Russia is flexing its muscle.  He has laid the groundwork for a Cold War with China, and a hot one with Iran.  Dictators would get a pass for four more years from the United States, which has traditionally stood on the side of human rights and the promotion of democracy.

But let’s not kid ourselves thoughtful reader.  The chances of a Biden presidency being a rapid return to some sense of normalcy, with a basket of puppies delivered to every boy in America and a pony to every girl, are unrealistic.  The first year of a Biden presidency would be dominated by an effort to first contain the coronavirus pandemic and then begin the slow process of eradicating it through vaccines (all while a sizable portion of the population have had their faith in government agencies like CDC and NIH eroded by a relentless assault on science during Trump’s presidency).  Fixing the damage done to the economy by the pandemic will force Democrats to spend political capital they might otherwise have hoped to spend on climate change protections, securing affordable healthcare for all Americans, reversing tax policy designed to favor the wealthy, and protect social progress for marginalized groups.

I look at electing Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States tomorrow like eating your vegetables — it’s not that tasty, and it’s not immediately gratifying like eating cake, but in the long run it’s good for you.

Trump the clown

This version 3.0 of my website and blog began as Trump assumed office.  And I hope, and intend, to muse publicly on this, that, and the other in the days and weeks (and with any luck, years) to come.  I enjoy blogging and, like my gardening, it keeps me off the streets.  But for now, the good, decent, honest American people are calling — they want their country back.

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