Thursday, July 06, 2017

Why I Felt Unsettled This Independence Day

A host of insights are readily drawn from the Donald Trump's various tweets attacking his critics, particularly those made about the mass media. The tweets reveal a troubling picture of the nature and depth of his character, specifically when he hurls vile insults. 

Mr. Trump's statements reveal a sensitivity to criticism, as well as an ugly, vicious and vindictive nature. How he speaks of Mr. Obama indicates that he has an obsession with his predecessor, and feels that only by running him down on everything will elevate his own character and accomplishments. Mr. Trump is an insecure salesman and showman whose sense of decorum and truthfulness is horrendously lacking. Under his direction, his administration spokespeople peddle "alternative facts", aka, lies.

He claims that he respects women, yet his action and words indicate that such respect of females is highly selective. He claims that he loves the press, but his words speak otherwise. He adores the press only when they do his bidding, positively telling his fables and laud him. Anyone press outlet who dares not to laud him, who hold firmly to the press's responsibility to question him, his staff, and policies in any manner are deemed "fake news." The result is that true news is of the sort of stories that Pravda published during the Soviet era.

In speaking of his negative tweets, on July 2 one of his apologists dismissed them by noting that Mr.Trump is not a politician. She went on to say that he will learn. I would be surprised if Secretary Cho truly believes what she stated to the press. Since November, a period where growth should be evidenced has lacked such evidence. His vile, capricious and unpresidential behavior remains unchanged. 

Mr. Trump is a man set in his ways, who for decades has pandered to one side, then the other. He freely shifts positions within a short period, saying what his target audiences want to hear. He can shift readily because he has few positions that he holds by personal conviction. This pattern of shifting is part of the life-long process that he has used to make deals and to push himself forward. Trump has been at this obfuscation and "alternative facts" game far too long to change. It is part of his character and value system.

I've long concluded that Mr. Trump's attacks are a result of personal insecurity, poor self-image. He has a narrow range of personal convictions. When I hear or read an attack, I tend to see it as Trump projecting his own issues and failings into the lives of others. 

What is more troubling is that to date Mr. Trump's style is to rule the nation, not govern it. As evidenced in his repeated states about his admiration for strong rulers, such as Vladimir Putin, who firmly control their governments and country, that is how he wishes to rule. Does he feel constrained by the laws of the nation? Is he of the same mindset of Richard Nixon who felt a president most of the nation's law did not apply to him? 

Heading into July 4th I recall that when the United States declared its independence, its established model was that of an executive and legislature that governed, not ruled. The founders of the nation did not view the president as being an unitary ruler. They wanted a president who would be distinct and different from the model of the kings of England, France and Spain. Mr. Trump is eroding the governing presidency for that of a ruling one.  

Mr.Trump should be highly concerned about foreign interference in the American electoral system, and doing the same to other Western democracies. Instead he is dismissive of such interference, alternating between that it did not happen, to it may be just a fat guy sitting in his bedroom to maybe it happened, but we cannot tell who did it.  Why is not external interference in the election viewed as a serious issue for Mr. Trump? Why does he not see this as a direct attack upon the heart of American democracy? Is it because he does not fundamentally understand and value the democratic processes?

Mr. Trump should be more concerned about his relationship with the German, French, Italian and Canadian leaders, NATO and solving real national problems than he is with cable news hosts, the media in general, and in dismissing his intelligence agencies. Instead, he fires off mean spirited thought out tweets as well as spending sufficient time surfing the web to find things he can repost to attack his straw figure of the moment, like the Reddit CNN video he recently tweeted out.  

Has the press been stellar in all its coverage. No. The press are no perfect. They are as human as you and I.  Do some outlets and press officials have biasses?  Yes. Biasses have existed as long as people have been printing and reporting the news.
And outlet and reporter bias will always exist. There are many examples of poor stories, quotes taken out of context, but they are in the minority, and far less frequent that such political ads doing the same. The small minority of stories that are poor are no justification to demonized he press as a whole.
By doing so, Mr. Trump and his spokespeople are undermining democracy itself. Without a vigorous independent press, the light of attention would disappear, and leave our elected leaders being unaccountable to the people. As a result, power hungry individuals would be free to pervert political processes and through incremental steps, over a decade or so, leave the United States a democracy in only trappings and name. 

Regrettably, to their national shame, too many Americans are increasingly opposed to hearing and weighing different views. Instead they rely, July upon uncritical acceptance of their selected echo chamber, and thereby reinforcing the walls of their silos. The result is increased division, and the increased possibility that a small group in the right places will be able to move the nation towards one party rule. 

While claiming that his hands are clean, Mr. Trump has repeatedly through his actions, comments and tweets, driven the existing divisions wider and stronger. Also, he is creating new ones. The division is so significant that NPR was repeatedly lambasted by his supporters for posting on a series of statements on Twitter during Independence Day. These followers called NPR's Twitter postings revolutionary, biased, undemocratic, unjust attacks of the President, and that these statements indicate exactly why NPR is unAmerican and that all it's funding should be withdrawn. These revolutionary Twitter posts by NPR were nothing more that NPR posting on Twitter of the American Declaration of Independence. When NPR was strongly attacked by these people, it is evidence that Mr. Trump has given voice to the more base nature and elements of American society. 

The nation and its citizens need to have vigorous debates of diverse views in a respectful manner, agreeing that we will disagree agreeably. We need people who critically question not just the views of the other side, but of their own too. We need people who work together to address issues through consensus building, just as did the nations founders. Each party should welcome diverse views and exchanges of opinions. Use of the term DINOs, or RINOs, should be an anathema that flies against the country's founding processes and principles. 

The nature and character of the United States is being tested. How its people interact and work together is being tested. On Independence Day 2017 I was uncertain what and how to celebrate as I have a welling fear that over the last years the United States and its people have moved away from what made America great, that is inclusive civil discourse, strong adherence to democratic processes, and above all leaders who we can hold as examples for our children and who govern rather than being authoritarian rulers. 

No comments: