This is one of those weeks in which I’m amazed we’re not all out in the streets, shouting our heads off for the preservation of democracy and the republic. I guess we really do get the government we deserve.
The big bombshells this week came in the form of excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book Fear: Trump in the White House and a bizarre anonymous op-ed from a “senior administration official” published in the New York Times. Some of the claims are unfortunately pretty standard, such as the president being angry, foolish, incurious, and uneducated on the basics of how the government he leads works.
Yeah, yeah, the president’s a petulant toddler and serial liar who still knows nothing about the world … it must be a Monday.
But the new information is enough to keep me up at night. Apparently, administration officials are actively trying to keep Trump from acting on his impulses by stealing things from his desk so he doesn’t see them, or quietly implementing policies counter to what he wants. The writer of the anonymous op-ed even goes to far as to imply that he or she is some kind of hero for doing this.
A lot of smarter people than myself have written plenty of pieces about why this anonymous writer is an enabler, a coward, and a participant in a soft coup at the highest level of our government. I’ll just add that there are plenty of stories about the advisors who try to rein in or thwart the worst impulses of a despotic and unhinged king, and it rarely ends well for them.
For instance, when the powerful Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Wolsey, tried to keep King Henry VIII from divorcing his first wife Katherine of Aragon, he found himself stripped of titles and land and charged with treason.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
He probably would have ended up a little shorter on top if he hadn’t died on the way to his trial. Do we still put people’s heads on the gates of our cities? Asking for a friend.
So yeah, these people are going to be found out and given the boot. What I really worry about, though, is that what little protection we’ve had from Trump’s worst impulses is about to end. Because now the president knows he’s being thwarted, and if he has any sense left he’ll do what he can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
In short, everything is about to get a lot worse.
And again I wonder, why are we sitting watching this, mouths agape, like it’s some sort of particularly cruel reality show?
I think it’s a couple of things. The most generous reason is that we’re Americans, and we tend to go for change at the ballot box rather than change in the streets. We’re less open to strikes, mass protests, and civil disobedience, and so we sit on our hands and wait for November.
It’s also possible that we’re just not that clear on what mass protests would do. It’s not like Trump is going to bow to pressure and resign, and his Republican protectors in Congress won’t force the issue. Public opinion is already pretty much set, and people are already paying attention.
I worry that we’re just too complacent, though. We’ve gone numb after nearly two years of daily scandal, outrage, and heartbreak, and we’re worn down and resigned.
The biggest protests came at the very beginning of the Trump administration, when the break with the past was sharpest, most obvious, and most painful. There was still a sense then that maybe, just maybe, we could stop this before it really got started, and that Trump’s presidency would be measured in months, not years.
So … now what? Maybe now that Trump’s going to try and root out the over-mighty subjects in his own house, allowing his destructive impulses to become more than just angry tweets, things will come to a head. Maybe a few weeks of Trump being completely untethered will finally put a dent in his support. Maybe a Democratic Congress can impeach — or at least investigate — the man. And maybe the Mueller report, when and if it comes, will force the issue.
But maybe not. And what are we going to do then?
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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