“The clownish veneer of Trumpism conceals its true danger. Trump’s way of lying is not a joke; it is a strategy, a way of clouding our capacity to think, to live in a realm of truth.”
Those are the alarming words of the highly respected, award-winning Editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, who has written a long, blistering, no-holds-barred takedown of President Donald Trump after his first 100 days in office.
His treatise is at once frightening and a call to action for all Americans before it is too late to save our teetering democracy.
Remick calls Trump a liar, unprincipled, cocky, unhinged and a value-free con who “will insult, stiff, or betray anyone to achieve his gaudiest purposes.”
He charges that Trump has, “set fire to the integrity of his office.”
“This is the brand that Trump has created for himself,” adds Remnick, “that of an unprincipled, cocky, value-free con who will insult, stiff, or betray anyone to achieve his gaudiest purposes.”
Remnick rightly faults Americans for failing to vote in elections, being swayed by slick images of Trump that created a false reality, and not recognizing that he is moving towards an authoritarian dictatorship that confuses military might with diplomacy. The result has been a wake-up call after years of apathy.
“For most people,” writes Remnick, “the luxury of living in a relativity stable democracy is the luxury of not following politics with a nerve-raced constancy. Trump does not afford this.”
“His presidency,” he continues, “has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite.”
The way that Trump ignores the real situation and “brazenly” dismisses the high-minded values we thought were ingrained as part of America, adds Remnick, “undermines the country he has been elected to serve and the stability he is pledged to insure.”
His madness is such that the U.S. President “can appear to be scarcely more reliable than any of the world’s autocrats.”
He says that when North Korea warns that Trump’s provocations are creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment…does one man sound more immediately rational than the other?”
The danger this brings is that after a while there is an “urge to normalize Trump’s adolescent outbursts, his fragrant incompetence, and dishonesty – to wish it all away.”
This brings new outrages and embarrassments every day, from declaring NATO is obsolete to claiming the Chinese are currency manipulators, which he then suddenly reverses his views on. “News of Trump’s casual reversals of policy comes with such alarming regularity that the impulse to locate a patch of firm ground is understandable. it’s soothing. But it’s untenable.”
Yet if we paid attention, points out Remnick, we would see this is how he has operated his entire life:
“Insofar as he had political opinions, they were inconsistent and mainly another form of performance art, part of his talk-show patter. His contributions to political campaigns were unrelated to conviction; he gave solely to curry favor with those who could do his business some good. he believed in nothing.”
When his business ran into trouble over the years, adds Remnick, he turned to financiers and business partner who were just as unreliable, with soiled reputations and brutal pasts.
He believes that is the real reason Trump will not release his tax returns.
“A record of his colossal tax breaks, associations, deals, and network reside in those forms,” says Remnick, predicting such deals will come to “haunt his Presidency no less than his grotesque conflicts of interest or any of the possible connections to Russia now being investigated by the F.B.I. and congressional committees will.”
Those conflicts include the way he has brought his family members like Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka to positions of power for which they have no background, experience or qualification. “The way that Trump has established his family members in positions of power and profit,” warns Remnick, “is redolent of tin-pot dictatorships.”
The threat that Trump represents is not just a rollback of America’s value, the possibility of nuclear war and the normalization of a culture of deceit, it is the destruction it can cause to democracy itself.
“In 1814,” recalls Remnick, “John Adams evoked the Aristotelian notion that democracy will inevitably lapse into anarchy. ‘Remember, democracy never last long,’ he wrote, adding that Adams warned, “‘There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.’”
“As President,” Donald Trump, with his nativist and purely transactional view of politics, threatens to be democracy’s most reckless caretaker and a fulfillment of Adam’s dark prophecy.”
“The task now is not merely to recognize this Presidency for the emergency it is” concludes Remnick, “and to resist its assault on the principles of reality and the values of liberal democracy, but to devise a future, to debate, to hear one another, to organize, to preserve and revive precious things.”