President Donald Trump is making claims that there is a witch hunt upon him. It doesn’t seem necessary to bring witches into this whole thing really, and doing so seems unfair to them. Witches, after all, didn’t hire Michael Flynn despite knowing he was damaged goods.
On Wednesday, Trump said he is the president who has been treated with the most unfair hostility. Forget, of course, all the presidents who did not survive assassination attempts, and then all the ones that did. How about his predecessor, a good humored, highly educated public servant who found himself confronted by a refusal to govern on the part of the opposition party. Who was written off as a secret communist who hated America. Who was, in the words of this president, very likely not American at all but an African imposter.
It’s ironic, of course, that behind the president’s support is this feeling that forward-thinking people are actually anti-American agents who hate free expression and want to create totalitarian pockets where over-sensitivity — pardon the pun — trumps an open exchange of ideas. The irony lies in the fact that the figurehead of this movement appears to be the most fragile snowflake of all. That he sees questions of accountability as personal attack colors him as what he is — a fragile authoritarian.
And the pressure is higher than ever and increases by the day. I’m sure that at this rate, by the time this is published, a new revelation will have surfaced. Robert Mueller has been assigned as special counsel, and prominent members of the Republican-controlled House were revealed to have believed the president to be on the Russian payroll, which we know despite denials because the Washington Post had recorded as much.
Thank God for the press, by the way, which is really pulling through in its responsibility as the fourth estate. When it appeared as though the government would not hold itself accountable, much of the press has helped do exactly that, and this has kept interest in seemingly evident malfeasance alive when the GOP appeared to have been just fine with looking the other way.
This is where someone exclaims something about the liberal press, which suggests, perhaps, that we all get a newsletter that delivers unto us our party line. I’m sorry to disappoint, but this is not the case. We are not, as one of Trump’s prominent white nationalist supporters would call us — in the word of his Nazi idols — the lugenpresse, or lying press. Actual journalists are doing their jobs and reporting actual facts and one of those facts happens to be the the president is doing a wonderful job of being terrible.
Speaking of all of this, one wonders when moderate Sen. Susan Collins will stand up against any of this in an unequivocal way. One does not look at this train and see it bound for anything but a fiery crash, but thus far Collins’ brand is tainted by the president’s brand. Her wait and see approach — and that of the party at large — has done little to redeem them for a post-Trump. What credibility will they retain after the crash?
Taken collectively, this illustrates the broader reason I am eager for the removal of the president, which — perhaps I am being too optimistic — appears all but inevitable. It is not simply his behavior, which suggests a level of total incompetence and recklessness regarding the gravity of his position. It’s not solely his draining of the swamp, as it were, only to refill the void with swamp monsters instead. It’s not just the horrendous regressive policies that hurt everyone that makes me yearn for his being displaced (along with anyone else who made his rise possible). Everything about what he represents in practice, one can only note with a grim bit of irony, happens to also be bad in every way for those who supported him most emphatically.
No, it is that he brings out a sense of derangement in every corner of our society. Moderates become complicit by waiting and seeing. Market conservatives and those with conservative foreign policy outlooks appear suddenly OK with a reckless closeness with Russia in a way where, had Barack Obama or Bill Clinton been in Trump’s position, there would have been calls for their immediate detainment. His existence seems to make otherwise rational people look the other way on facts simply because they were tainted by being reported by folks who maintain standards of journalistic integrity. It’s that white supremacists and nationalists are not only a thing, but a contingent that shows up to towns dressed in khakis and waving around citronella candles (it was as chilling and ridiculous as it sounds) to remind us that Trump has a posse, and they’ll show up to intimidate whenever called upon.
The president represents, encourages and amplifies all of our dumbest, laziest and basest instincts. I am optimistic that he is on a path to exposing his hand and I believe that, on the other side of it, we will be better for this.
Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was a teenager. He’s an owner-partner of a Portland-based content production company and lives with his family, dogs and garden in Cornish.