As another grueling September comes to a close it has become clear that the Trump administration has no idea what is supposed to be doing in the White House. As the president stumbles from one gigantic disaster to the next, his administration’s sole role appears to be cleaning up his mess and claiming he didn’t really say what he said, and didn’t mean what he said he meant.
The truth is, Trump has no agenda any more. His sole objective now is to create chaos and destroy everything around him. Why? Because this is the only way he knows how to survive.
Trump ran on two major issues in 2016 — kicking out immigrants and wrecking Obamacare. He has some success on the former, and none on the latter. Other than that, there is little anyone can point to to describe where this White House is going or what it believes in. Trump’s foreign policy appeared to initially be one of nationalist isolation, but he has already bombed Afghanistan and is in the middle of kicking off conflicts with Iran and North Korea (two countries incidentally, with nuclear capabilities). He promised he would tell China to get lost (he hasn’t), withdraw America from NAFTA (he’s not going to), and restore the coal industry to its former glory (it’s still dying). Once the Alt-Right loons were purged from Trump’s inner circle, all the things he was supposed to stand for evaporated, and Trump has been left captaining a ship he clearly doesn’t want to be on. Surrounded by generals and traditional conservatives, Trump is supposed to be behaving himself and reverting to standard Republican orthodoxy. Which means of course, he is going crazy instead.
Instead of bringing more order to the White House, the military men have created a more unhinged Trump who sees things that are not there, panders to white supremacists, lies more than ever and has even created new countries. Trump has no policy objectives — he seeks to destroy, and nothing more. Whenever opportunity arises, Trump attempts to divide the country to solidify his standing with his base. He attacked black NFL players last weekend while in Alabama, calculating that he would benefit in the short term from his white supporters. As his numbers dwindle and Republicans begin to plot against him, Trump knows that he must incinerate everything around him to survive. There is no long term strategy, just aggressive flailing at anyone and everything in his way. The chaos that ensues buys him time until the next self inflicted disaster erupts. And then he will find a way to create more confusion and more chaos to distract us all from that. This worked for him during the 2016 election, and it is working him still as president.
This can go on for the next 7 years if Americans do not take action against him, because Trump can still win in 2020. He has effectively gamed the system that was designed to keep demagogues like him out, expertly playing on the country’s racist instincts and vulnerability during a time of great uncertainty. Like every fascist before him, Trump knows how to appeal to the worst in people, playing on their fears and prejudices for his own gain.
“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda,” said Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. “It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth. Modern dictatorships have become far more sophisticated still in how to achieve their ends. They learned that by constant bombardment, your senses become overwhelmed. You start to doubt, to shrug your shoulders, to tune out, and that makes you vulnerable. Instead of pushing one lie, one fake, they can push a dozen, or a hundred, and that’s pretty good odds against one lonely truth. They win when you say: ‘Who can be sure what really happened'”
Be sure of what really happened. Be sure that Fox News is attempting to distract you into believing Trump is not that bad. Be sure that he is that bad. Be sure that Trump is a lying conman who should be removed from the White House as soon as humanly possible. Be sure that resisting means not giving up mentally, ever.
Be sure that this will be over, but be more sure that you will do your part to stop this madness.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.