America has spent a couple generations now treading the shallow waters of social progress while simultaneously idolizing hideously flawed people and obsolete dreams. We “lean to the left and vote to the right,” according to a certain bitter songwriter who we’ll return to in a moment.
Americans are often shortsighted, with unaddressed needs but just enough disposable income that we tend to spend it unwisely. Is it any wonder we finally have a president who’s just like us?
Our Leader Has No Imagination
“We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade … not because [it is] easy but because [it is] hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”
“I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
That’s a difference so stark it’d be funny if we didn’t have to deal with the reality of it all. How different is the ambition on display here! How much smaller are one man’s dreams than the other! And it brings up one more quote to round out our celebrity appearances for today, this time it’s from Roger Waters, who presided over the finest Pink Floyd albums:
“Is this the life — the holy grail? It’s not enough that we succeed. We still need others to fail. Is this the life we really want? It surely must be so, because this is a democracy and what we all say goes.”
So. Is it the life we want? How big are our dreams these days? Because it’s beginning to feel like our president has a breathtakingly limited imagination, if all he can dream up is more walls and more jingoistic nonsense. We’ve tried all that before, and that’s bad enough. But Mr. Trump also demonstrates all of the characteristic signs of someone made emotionally fragile by an inability to handle criticism. One gets the impression he might be willing to hang on, white-knuckled, even to a profoundly stupid idea, if he thinks abandoning that idea will make him look weaker than following through on it.
But if you want an even more tangible example of how limited Mr. Trump’s imagination really is, all you have to do is watch him get led around by the nose by any lobbyist or fascist who has enough money or political clout to enter his orbit. Whereas president Kennedy appeared to have a cohesive platform and a fairly straightforward code of ideals, Donald Trump has hot air. When he’s not doing his broken clock/broken record routine, he’s spouting incoherent nonsense and changing his mind so fast it’s amazing he doesn’t get whiplash.
Donald Trump Has No Integrity and No Platform Consistency
Is he actually flip-flopping or is he just plain greedy and clueless? Before and after winning the presidency in 2016, this question about Trump had already begun to stymy the American people.
After billing himself as a tough and uncompromising dealmaker, it reportedly took Mr. Trump just a single behind-closed-doors meeting with lobbyists from the healthcare industry — an industry made possible by delaying responses to human suffering — for him to reverse his stance on a bill that would have let Medicare negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
Trump’s bold plan instead was to continue chasing the libertarian-republican wet dream that’s been costing lives for decades: Fewer regulations, not more, for the pharmaceutical industry, which, again, profits directly from broken bodies, broken minds and general human suffering.
What changed Donald Trump’s mind? Money, plain and simple. And that makes the implications of his more recent flip-flop on gun control, if anything, even more unforgivable.
Again, we see that the man’s only real talent in life is grabbing headlines. After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, Mr. Trump made loud public remarks that got the left excited about the possibility of expanded gun control: “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” he said. For the briefest moment, Trump seemed to glimpse the truth about high-powered weapons, which is that they are unique among consumer-level products and deserve consideration far and beyond what we’d apply to, for example, pocketknives or automobiles.
But then Trump changed his mind in less than a day. He went from paying lip service to progressive ideals — expanding and making background checks universal, raising the minimum age to purchase some weapons and removing weapons from the hands of known dangerous people — to…
Familiar NRA hysteria. Is it any wonder? The National Rifle Association contributed $30 million to the Trump presidential campaign. Our president clearly thinks he’s the one in control here, but to anybody paying even a speck of attention, it’s abundantly obvious he is the one being used.
The First-Family of Stupidity
Do we truly get the leaders we deserve? Perhaps. But the implications of Trumpian stupidity on the foreign stage are seriously worrying. Trump turns on a dime when he sees something shiny just off-camera. Then his son-in-law Jared Kushner goes to Saudi Arabia — a country with a manifestly barbaric worldview and whose involvement in the Yemen conflict has led to a humanitarian crisis there — and demonstrates such a profound lack of integrity that the Crown Prince brags about having Kushner in his pocket.
Tell me again how making tons of money requires brains? Tell me again who’s using whom? Between their clear lack of imagination and their distaste for any priority that isn’t rooted in money, America’s first-family is, quite literally, dangerous to us.
That some folks still think this is all business as usual is possibly even scarier still.