“How is your 401K doing?”
That five-word challenge has been the battle cry of Trump supporters for the last three years. It is the ultimate “ends justifies the means” statement on what being a citizen of the United States is supposedly about.
It is also selfish and shallow as hell to think that the only pertinent thing about life is the near-term state of the economy. We all know how economics works. The markets go up and stay up for a while, then they go down again. These trends occur in cycles and none of the ups and downs have ever proven to be permanent.
The last time the economic markets experienced a “correction” was in the 2007-2009 period as President George W. Bush left office and President Barack H. Obama became President of the United States. The economy recovered slowly and modestly at first under Obama’s watch. Then it solidified and set a course on which the economy has sailed during three years under President Donald J. Trump.
The last three years of Obama’s term actually showed stronger job increases and economic growth rates than the Trump era. Yet somehow people who support Trump love to claim that their guy is the one who made America great again.
The sad fact is that Trump and the GOP aggressively hinted that economic growth in the wake of broad-based tax cuts might reach the 6% range. That brand of white-hot growth never materialized. The result has been a projected increase in the national deficit of $8.3 trillion, ironic considering that Trump also promised to eliminate the national debt in eight years.
That hasn’t stopped Trump supporters from trumpeting the supposedly superior state of the Trump economy. But fractures in the market-based belief quickly appeared when global supply chains ground to a standstill as the Coronavirus epidemic started killing people.
Trump is clearly panicked about his economic perch.
In response, his administration moved to censor press conferences and control messaging by funneling all Coronavirus news through Vice President Mike Pence. That act alone is evidence of the selfish style of management for which the Trump presidency has become known.
It also showed up in his impeachable actions in trying to coerce the nation of Ukraine to conduct an investigation of his perceived political rival Joe Biden. Trump used governmental resources to pursue the selfish ambitions of his re-election. One of the President’s lawyers even had the gall to claim that such selfish actions were in the nation’s best interests because anything the President does automatically qualifies in that category.
Those selfish instincts seem to be greatly admired by Trump supporters whose cheering attendance at his rallies borders on cult worship. And speaking of worship, even Christian evangelicals have chosen to excuse Trump’s inherently selfish nature with the self-serving claim that “God works with flawed people.”
It’s all part of the same Selfishism that insists on dismissing facts in favor of self-serving ideology. On the religious front, that practice has a long tradition as a faith once built on disciples going two-by-two into the world to spread the Good News consolidated under Roman power. In turn, it became a force of persecution, legalism, support of slavery and even genocide. All these were done in the name of tradition and for selfish reasons.
That’s how we got where we are today. The market system known as Capitalism rewards the selfish behavior of the powerful when left unchecked by any sort of social contract. That’s why the United States of America implemented the New Deal in the wake of the Great Depression. It was a recognition that Selfishism is the most destructive force of all in this world.
So claims that America is a “Christian Nation” in law or spirit have proven wrong time and again by those claiming to be Christian. Nothing in the ideology of Donald Trump is remotely Christian in the earnest sense of the word. Yet many Christians have the gall to claim that Trump was literally installed by God to carry out his selfish whims, and that is precisely what they are. Trump is an opportunist and a demonstrated fraud when it comes to his business dealings. Even his own University was proven to be fraudulent, and so was his own foundation. Both were corrupted by his selfish desire to leverage his name without giving value back and to siphon money given for charitable purposes into his own coffers.
Selfishism is what Trumpism is all about.
The United States of America will collapse as a democracy and a republic if the selfish instincts of people claiming to be dispossessed while embracing and preaching the doctrine of prejudice, bigotry and getting rich at all costs that Donald Trump espouses in more than dog-whistle fashion. He selfishly flaunts those values while mocking the free press for pointing out his lies and ridiculing responsible politicians for trying to hold him accountable.
He was impeached, but he is not contrite. It is telling that the faction of religious believers who love to blame America’s ills on gays or abortion or science are silent on the fact that the Coronavirus has emerged from the ether to threaten the autocratic stability of a President so concerned about himself that he can’t even admit that people are dying under his watch. Selfishism is the ultimate killer in this world, and it deserves its own political moniker. Sooner, rather than later.