His niece Mary L. Trump has written in
“His egregious and arguably intentional mishandling of the current catastrophe has led to a level of pushback and scrutiny that he’s never experienced before, increasing his belligerence and need for petty revenge as he withholds vital funding, personal protective equipment, and ventilators that your tax dollars have paid for from states whose governors don’t kiss his ass sufficiently.”
(Mary L. Trump holds a PhD from the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and has taught graduate courses in trauma and psychopathology)
The Publisher Simon & Schuster writes on its website that the book portrays the president as a “damaged man” with “lethal flaws” who “threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.”
The publisher is correct. Donald Trump’s mind is a reflection of everything that is wrong with America. It is obsessed by hunger for power. It is driven by mendacious narcissism, derision of others, a sense of privilege, gleeful ignorance. As this has become more a certainty, many Americans find themselves asking: How did we get to this place? How can we get ourselves out of it?
Donald Trump’s niece paints a very grim picture. My purpose here is to agree with her and yet give Americans hope. How can I say this? I spent most of my life career traveling throughout the world assessing foreign risk. It has given me insight. Allow me to begin with my biography. In some ways it was not unlike that of Donald Trump.
My parents and grandparents were the product and success of the great American dream.
My father was a Swedish sailor immigrant’s son born in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. He started in his youth as a Wall Street runner. He became the most powerful American banker for all of the Middle East at the House of Morgan. My mother was the daughter of a Swedish Lutheran Minister who left Sweden for America at the age of 14. He led a very beautiful Missouri Synod Lutheran church in Arlington, New Jersey.
As it was with Donald (and so many young boys) my father had a great influence on me. I can now vividly recall one incident; when a princely man from Saudi Arabia visited us at our home in Alpine, New Jersey to drink coffee and eat my mother’s pastries. As I stood in the driveway of our house this soon to be Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia—Faisal bin Abdelaziz Al Saud who later became King and then in 1975 was murdered by his nephew—stepped out of a black Lincoln limousine, surrounded by body guards. So many years later I can still feel the awe of his presence.
Was that the moment I made my decision? It may have been.
So, later I set out to follow my own international dream. It became my banking career. Beginning in New York with the Chase Manhattan Bank and then to their branch in Johannesburg, South Africa, it took me to every corner of the world; to the Soviet Union during the Henry Kissinger “detent” period, to all of Europe and Latin America and Asia. My job was assessing foreign risk and building foreign relationships. Over that period I became increasingly aware of the world around me and the underlying causes of past and present civilizational function and dysfunction.
Was this the reason that on Nov. 8, 2016 I found myself so dismayed by the news Americans had elected Donald Trump to the nation’s highest office — a man clearly unfit to lead America. My answer: Yes it was.
Then a year later a breakthrough idea began to form in my mind. I concluded that he may be exactly what America at this stage in its history needs. Like a horrible reflection in a mirror, the personification of all that is wrong now and has been wrong for over 400 years, a warning to our citizens of how dysfunctional we have become.
Bringing together all of my years of international risk assessment experience I have concluded that he could be a catalyst for change.
The need for change in America has been evident from the country’s founding. In the current era since the Reagan years it has become the more evident. With Reagan there was a movement towards crassness in our politics, toward the inequality of wealth distribution, toward cruelty in our social system.
So my conclusion is that we Americans are now faced with a stark reality; in the form of the shock that we needed. To use a timely metaphor, Donald Trump is like a virus forcing us to pay attention to the harm we are doing to ourselves, demanding that we find an antibody.
We are now seeing signs of this in the streets of our country.
I was told as a youngster in school that America in its beginning was created by and for the people and that it was a nation where people could reach their potential. My own family experience I had thought confirmed this. But now with Donald Trump and his sycophants I can see that it was for many Americans just a myth. My family and I were the lucky ones. Yes, some like my father and grandfathers had opportunity, but there remained many for whom opportunity was very limited; the poor white working-class and then the slaves at the very bottom — those from Africa treated not as people but as chattel property. The historical American reality from the foundation of our country to the present is that there was and continues to be an aristocracy of the rich. Massive wealth accumulation has always been with us. And it has always been able to purchase enormous political power. We do not have a democracy. We never did. We have been living in an autocracy. And with Donald Trump that failure is all the more apparent.
In recent years this has become the soul of the Republican Party. Beginning with Newt Gingrich in 1994, Republicans stopped trying to govern and instead began accumulating electoral power. It is said that few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise.
A straight line can be drawn from Gingrich’s “Contract with America” to the Tea Party in 2009, an outsider movement characterized by distrust of government expertise and experience. The Tea Party helped elect a rogues’ gallery of loathsome lawmakers; Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) just to name two of them.
So Trump’s dystopian vision of America is not new. It is the ultimate flowering of anti-democratic thinking. It has in recent years metastasized in the form of what we call today the Far Right Republican Party.
And yet as I write here it all goes back long before Gingrich. FDR made some changes. But then after FDR, American conservatives piece by piece systematically dismantled his meager social safety net. This included reduced access to food aid, job training and unemployment insurance. Regulatory guardrails were rolled back. America allowed executive compensation packages to emphasize reward for short-term financial gain and place little value on the broader social/economic worker landscape. Conservatives put in place an income and inheritance tax system benefiting the very wealthy and pushing the even limited welfare burden onto the shrinking middle class. They privatized the most expensive and least socially productive medical system in the advanced world. They allowed education debt to suffocate the middle and lower classes. They allowed the nation’s infrastructure to deteriorate. And the list goes on.
Now for the good news:
Everything wrong with America is now centered on the incompetence of Donald Trump and his sycophant followers. There is a buildup of American revulsion. (most notably among the millennials) It is causing many Americans to demand change.
What is happening in our streets now is just the beginning. This is how progressive democratic societies improve; at first fitfully, imperfectly, frustratingly, sometimes painfully. But they do improve. So, I say: Thank you, President Trump. Thank you for showing us what we have become; how low we have become. Thank you for helping us find the courage to confront what we have become.
It will take time and hard work from every corner of American society – from people of all social racial profiles and creeds and levels of wealth. But the process has started. We are getting closer to a metaphorical Covid-19 Trump-ian socio-political cure.
Yet we are left with the nagging question. Will enough of us have the energy and patience to see it through?
It only took about 35% of the German people to put Hitler into Power. And many of the ultra-rich German industrialists stayed silent. This is where we now find ourselves. As it was then with Nazi Germany, what happens in November of this year will determine the future of our country.
David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written four books. The fourth is about a necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival. http://inquiryabraham.com/