The difference between being fooled by Trump and being a fool for Trump

The Baby Trump balloon flew over Great Britain when Trump visited that nation.

I keep reading comments in news stories and on social media stating that many of the 74 million people who voted for Trump are either “good people” or “smart people.” That may be true. Over the last four years a number of people that I’ve known for a long time came out in favor of Donald Trump. Some of those people are devout Christians. Others are avowed conservatives. Still others voted Republican all their lives and were not keen on Hillary and certainly were not excited about voting for Joe Biden.

But without exception, all of these good and smart people were somehow fooled about who Trump was, and who he turned out to be. Some of these folks recoiled upon seeing Trump supporters swarm the Capitol. Then came news that Capitol guards were killed. Others were injured or had their lives threatened by the unruly mob chanting, among many slogans, “Hang Mike Pence!”

The anger driving the mob was a direct result of Donald Trump’s persistent claims that the 2020 election was stolen. That led to slogans such as “Stop the Steal” and when Trump spoke before the crowds in Washington, D.C., he exhorted them to take action “Because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

So at that urging, the mob stormed the Capitol. Those people were fools for Trump.

Millions deceived

That’s the difference right there. Millions of people were deceived into thinking Donald Trump would be an effective President. Some point to his “policies” as successful, a defense copied and pasted in social media memes as a defense of Trump’s supposedly positive action as President. The list of supposed successes includes a laundry list such as tax cuts (which clearly benefitted the richest Americans) the Middle East Deal (which cut Palestinians out of the picture) and a few Republican-ish items on the Wish List of discrimination such as overhauling immigration policy (resulting in nearly 6000 children separated from their families) and building the wall (a massive debacle with funds appropriated from military budgets to construct barriers through environmentally sensitive areas and Native American sacred places.)

Then there is the pandemic to consider. Within a week––and well under a year’s time––400,000 Americans will have died from the Coronavirus / Covid-19. From the outset of the threat, Trump denied it as a threat even as he admitted (that’s evidence) to reporter Bob Woodward that he knew things were going to get really bad. Trump played it down and his followers were fooled by his words. The pandemic denial made fools of us all. Now hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors are dead and millions are infected with potential side effects lasting years or permanently affecting hearts and lungs.

Trump’a denial was necessary in his mind because he was so afraid of not getting elected he feared any disturbance to the fragile economy over which he presided. Ironically, it was his own lies that crushed commerce and led to millions of people cast out of their jobs. The economy tanked due to Trump’s selfish instincts. We’ve all been left clinging to vestiges of normalcy while states and cities and medical facilities at every scale struggle to keep up with infection rates. All because our federal response was either denied, uncoordinated or non-existent. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner fooled around in the background trying to patch together some sort of “free-market” response, but the disease didn’t wait around for ideology to catch up with reality. People were dying, and there was no plan in place to stop it. That’s still true.

Then there’s the Trumpian deception over the election that led to an insurrection. How is America supposed to deal with that?

A justified response

The Chicago Tribune headline the day after the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

On January 18, 2021, in the wake of Congress’ impeachment of the President, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial by Liz Peek, a writer for RealClearPolitics. She claimed that the move to impeach Trump was both rushed and unjustified. I wrote a response and sent it to the Tribune, where my letters appear with relative frequency.

The text is here:

“Columnist Liz Peek attempts to show that the impeachment of President Donald Trump is rushed and not entirely justified. She fails to mention that well in advance of the 2016 election, during a debate with Secretary Hillary Clinton, candidate Trump refused to state that he would respect the results of the election, win or lose. This man has never respected the rule of law or the democratic process. He has repeatedly broken the nation’s laws governing his conduct in office, and most recently led an insurrection to overturn the results of a fair and free election. This second impeachment is no rush to judgment. It is a statement that a man such as Donald Trump has no place in public office, especially the presidency, and his supporters need to understand that loud and clear. The Senate failed in its duty to convict Trump the first time around, breaking its oath to conduct a full trial. That should not happen this time around. The outgoing President deserves punishment for his prolonged assault on our nation, a practice evidenced even in the policies implemented under his watch, which rewarded only the rich, gutted agencies designed to serve the American people and protect the environment, and left hundreds of thousands of people to die due to his lies about the threat of the pandemic. Those who innocently supported Trump were fooled, but those who continue to support him are abject fools.”

Millions of people invented reasons to vote for Trump and support him during his presidency. This devotion required considerable suspension of disbelief. Well, Americans are really good at that practice. Look at all those intergalactic shows and movies where people walk around spaceships as if gravity follows them around, or flit from planet to planet and galaxy to galaxy where oxygen happens to be everywhere and the main characters speak the same language. The world thrives on this brand of disconnection from reality and America has thus survived four years on Planet Trump. The Grand Illusion serves the President well. He lies with the worst of them, yet people believe in him. Even Christians tossed aside their core beliefs to buy Trump’s replacement for their faith. They chose access to power instead. It’s a familiar story really. The entire Star Wars enterprise is based on the same premise.

A striking reversal of resemblance?

That is why it is time to send Trump into an orbit of his own making. He deserves to face penalty for the fraud and graft he’s depended upon for years. Like Emperor Palpatine, he brought the same corrupt and power-brokering tactics to the office of President. People were fooled into believing that Trump’s supposed business acumen was real, like some kind of “force” that could solve America’s problems with the wave of a Trumpian hand. Never mind that Trump University was fined $25M for fraud, or that his dalliances with porn stars were well-documented? What does that have to do with character or anything Donald Trump is doing as President?

Trump’s supporters promised “so much winning.” Instead, the nation got hit repeatedly with the back of his selfish hand, all while being admonished for not loving him enough. America was subjected to the worst kind of abusive relationship where the gaslighting abuser takes his minions for fools and demands that all those under his charge submit to abuse as a sign of love. Trump used and disabused members of his cabinet, his personal and public lawyers, and anyone that crossed him. All were hit with abuse during Trump’s fits of rage and disavowal.

And still his supporters came crawling back for more. Trump willingly exploited their adoring submission, then turned it into a populist coup, an insurrection, and the final act of his abusive claim on power. He convinced those people to act like fools for him. It’s time to impeach Trump and show the fools and the foolish among us that there is a cost to believing in falsehood and lies.

Only then can the nation begin to heal from this foolishness.

Trump and his supporters refuse to understand: It’s his own fault

The riots and attack on the US government at the United States Capitol building are proving one thing: America really does need to be concerned about the rise of fascism in this nation.

All summer long during protests against the murder of Black citizens by police were conducted by Black Lives Matter and other social conscience groups. Some of those protests were marked by looting that harmed businesses. That was enough for Trump and his supporters to claim the two responses to police brutality were automatically related.

Other nations

The peaceful interior of the Segrada Familia basilica and Barcelona Spain in fact is a form of protest against the legalistic strictures of the Catholic Church as its architect Antonio Gaudi drew on the organic source of all creation to depict God’s glory inside a cathedral and outside on its structure. Photo by Christopher Cudworth in Barcelona, Spain in 2019.

We can turn to the nation of Spain for perspective on the relationship between protests for social justice and independence. I happened to be in Barcelona on a vacation in 2019 during the weekend when originally peaceful protests turned ugly. The issue in Spain was a call for “self-determination” by citizens of the Catalaonian region. They sought independence from the central government in Spain over issues of taxation. Catalan residents sought to secede from Spain. Right-wing defendants of Spain’s traditional national structure and constitution sought to crack down on the protests.

That’s when things turned sour in Barcelona. As reported on Reuters.com, “Barcelona town hall said 400 garbage containers were set ablaze on Wednesday and estimated that the city had suffered damage totaling more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in two days. Some city residents condemned the rioting. “This doesn’t represent the majority of Catalans, whichever side they are on, be they pro-constitution or pro-independence,” said Joan, a 50-year-old small-business owner.

The political issues in Spain differ from those in America, yet the cycles of protest and governmental crackdowns and pursuant violence on the part of “protestors” is quite similar to patterns in the United States.

As Reuters reported, “Young people draped in Catalan flags congregated peacefully, tossing balls and skipping rope. Later the mood turned ugly, with protesters setting fire to cafe chairs on the fashionable Rambla de Catalunya street at the heart of the tourist district.

Earlier in the day, thousands of students took to the streets, some hurling eggs at police holding riot shields. Marches from around the region are due to converge on Barcelona on Friday and unions have called a general strike for the day.

“It’s not about who is a separatist and who is not – it’s about human rights,” said Aila, a student who declined to give her family name.”

Black Lives Matter and Antifa

That sounds so familiar. Here in America, hundreds of thousands of protestors also sought to stand up for human rights. Their cause was calling attention to the series of Black people shot or suffocated by police. The incident with George Floyd in which an officer put a knee on the man’s neck until he died went viral and served to illuminate the cause of minorities around the world.

But Trump and his supporters appeared unmoved by the calls for change, and protests escalated as a result. Property damage was rampant, and a loosely organized group calling itself Antifa rose to national prominence as Trump sought to place blame for the violence on an enemy he target for derision by his supporters. That meant Trump lumped everyone together in one supposedly “evil” group that he blamed for property damage. But the people seeking social justice weren’t willing to live with that accusation. They persisted in peaceful protests. I witnessed the “rebound effect” of peaceful protestors while visiting Madison, Wisconsin this summer following weeks of unrest. The boarded up businesses were decorated with messages of love and reminders of why the protests were initiated in the first place. That may have been no comfort to businesses affected by the lockdowns, but that effect was not solely the result of protests. There was the scourge of Coronavirus that Trump refused to address. That incalcitrance toward any authority other than his own was the cause of more suffering in the United States than any protest, Antifa or not, could muster. That’s the reality Trump sought to avoid.

A Black Lives Matter sign painted on boarded up property in Madison, Wisconsin during the protests of summer 2020. Photo by Christopher Cudworth

The problem with the Trump tactic is that was successful with his supporters and his Republican allies eager to shift blame away from the President by siding with him in the depiction of all protestors as the “common enemy.” That means the original cause of the social justice protestors––justice for Black citizens and change in brutal police tactics––was effectively left behind. That is exactly how Trump likes it. His entire tactic in politics is to distract from the bad things he’s done and/or approved by redirecting blame toward anyone he depicts as the “common enemy.” In that regard, he has quite familiar company in history.

The concept of propaganda

Consider this excerpt from the Nuremberg 1934 rally, in which Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels outlines the premise and purpose of propaganda:

“The concept of propaganda has undergone a fundamental transformation, particularly as the result of political practice in Germany. Throughout the world today, people are beginning to see that a modern state, whether democratic or authoritarian, cannot withstand the subterranean forces of anarchy and chaos without propaganda. It is not only a matter of doing the right thing; the people must understand that the right thing is the right thing. Propaganda includes everything that helps the people to realize this.”

He goes on to state, “Propaganda is a means to an end. Its purpose is to lead the people to an understanding that will allow it to willingly and without internal resistance devote itself to the tasks and goals of a superior leadership. If propaganda is to succeed, it must know what it wants. It must keep a clear and firm goal in mind, and seek the appropriate means and methods to reach that goal. Propaganda as such is neither good nor evil. Its moral value is determined by the goals it seeks.”

Trump propaganda

In the case of Donald Trump, that “purpose” in mind is keeping power at all costs. That aligns with his central goal of self-interest. His policies fulfill promises to others that can help him keep power. But his actions aside from that are all about winning and protecting access to power.

The incalcitrant dictator is most at home when his frequent misdeeds are kept in the dark.

That explains his lies to cover up the threat of the pandemic in its early stages. His central goal in presenting information about the Coronavirus was to protect his image going into the 2020 election. To do that, he sought to downplay the seriousness of the virus and how many people it could possible kill. His interest was in protecting the economy upon which he believed his re-election depended. Yet his selfishness backfired as the virus raged through the American population, threatening to overwhelm hospitals as thousands died from Covid-19. The economy reeled. He raged against the lockdowns proclaimed by state governors as necessary to curb the spread of the disease.

That was Trump’s version of a “protest.” Yet it was his original inaction and refusal to engage the federal government in meaningful distribution of PPE and support for state efforts to conduct testing and reduce infection rates that led to the United States becoming the nation whose citizens were banned from traveling to countries around the world. Trump cynically and ignorantly blamed “testing” as the reason why the infection rates were so high. “If we didn’t do so much testing, there wouldn’t be so many infections,” seemed to be his reasoning.

The confusing mix of disease and outrage

So the summer months were a confusing mix of disease and outrage as American citizens endured the uncontrolled spread of Coronavirus even as Trump refused to wear a mask in public and an entire ‘protest’ movement of Anti-Maskers sprung up within his movement. They claimed that wearing masks infringed on their personal freedoms. Men like noted conservative and former presidential candidate Herman Cain refused to wear a mask in public. He contracted Covid-19 and died as a result.

That incident describes the twisted reasoning and dangers of Trumpism.

In the same way, it was Trump sending out federal troops in a fascist show of strength in Portland and other cities that led to increased resistance and more radicalized response in cities across the country. The Trump administration resorted to posting unidentified, heavily armed guards in Washington, D.C. in one of the most fascist demonstrations of governmental secrecy in American history. No one knew who those guards reported to, or what their purpose was other than to serve as a threat that the right to protest at all was under threat.

Then Trump marched across the street in the company of military personnel while flash-bangs and other deterrence methods were aimed at peaceful protestors gathered around a church in Washington. Trump held up a Bible (upside down, it appears) in clear demonstration of the religio-fascist relationship he maintains with zealously bigoted evangelicals calling for outright theocracy in American government.

Trump supporters long to point toward his “policies” as signs of his success the last four years. But even the supposed lists of accomplishments now circulating in defensive memes are rife with contradictions. His supposed Mideast accords are little more than disguised acts of Zionism and anti-Palestinian intrigue. Trump’s forceful collapse of the Iran nuclear control deal is enabling the re-establishment of that nation’s programs. HIs tax cuts did nothing for the middle class while enriching the wealthiest Americans, and his inaction on Coronavirus crushed millions of jobs while Republican Senators and Congressman fought significant relief bills to help everyday Americans. If one were to draft a program to make American lives worse rather than better, there is none better than the lack of platform resolved by the Republican Party and the sycophantic support they’ve granted their Fascist in Chief. The GOP, as I’ve previously written, simply got pimped.

Fascist takeover

This arc toward fascist takeover of American society was not lost on Trump supporters whose beliefs about American justice were formed and fomented by propaganda spouted by Trump well before the 2020 election even took place. Upon losing, Trump declared the results “fraudulent” and proceeded to carry out 60 fraudulent lawsuits that were in turn rejected by courts on the basis of no evidence to support them.

None of that stopped Trump or his fascist henchman Rudy Giuliani from continuing their attack on democratic processes. Right up to the certification of the Electoral College votes, Trump and Rudy G collared Republican Congressman, Senators, state governors and even election officials. They issued dictates and threats. When all this continued to fail, Trump called his supporters into action in Washington. He directed them to march on the Capitol in hopes that the disruption would delay or cancel the counting of Electoral College votes altogether.

The riotous mob did invade and seek to destroy the Capitol building and its occupants. They came armed with ties in hopes of kidnapping the Vice President or the Speaker of the House. Anyone they regarded as “treasonous” was a potential target. Even those tasked with defending the safety of the Capitol building were subject to fascist fury. A Capitol guard was slaughtered by “protestors” using a fire extinguisher to pound the life out of him.

It’s his own fault, not ours

The bellicose grandiosity of Donald Trump is coming back at him with a vengeance.

All of this is inescapably the fault of “President” Donald Trump, whose impeachment for attempts to corrupt the 2020 election were both justified and accurate. So was the Article of Impeachment about obstruction of justice, an action that Trump has taken multiple times and in multiple ways during his administration, all while crying out that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

But the witch hunt that sprung into life on January 6 was one driven by those who support Trump, and no one else. It bears echoes of the witch hunt conducted by Michigan Trump supporters who first stormed that state’s Capitol building, then conspired to kidnap the state governor.

The witch hunt also burst into murderous flames in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a young kid inflamed by propagandistic rhetoric about the actions of Antifa, and not the cause of their concerns, shot several people to death in what his supporters immediately claimed as an act of “self-defense.”

It won’t be long before Trump makes the same claim for himself, that his supporters were acting in on his behalf, as an act of “self-defense” against the supposedly fraudulent results of the election. That is the Big Lie upon which all of Trumpism now depends. It is one Trump originated even before the 2016 election took place. It is a lie he will likely repeat until his is in his grave. He simply can’t accept the reality that Antifa exists in direct relationship to his fascist persona and the actions it has begotten.

That is the ultimate irony in all of this. Trump supporters refuse to understand that Donald Trump brought this upon America, and upon himself.

UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Rudolph Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee, on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

A day after the insurrection

For much of the Trump regime’s term in office, his supporters claimed that it was his “policies” that earned their devotion. In the wake of yesterday’s final demonstration of his priorities, we now know that Trump was lying all along. His goal was never to Make America Great Again. It was to gain and hold power to do as he wishes, without a plan, accountability or consideration of the consequences. His motives were always makeup-thin and disguised under a political combover of claimed victimhood supported by mob rule.

The cover of the Chicago Tribune on January 7, 2021

Those who saw through Trump from the start were forced to endure accusations that we were #nevertrumpers. The term was originally meant to be an insult. Now it sounds like the best compliment anyone could give you.

We were also accused of having Trump Derangement Syndrome (#TDS by Twitter standards). But the visage of a deranged president telling a mob to descend on the Capitol proves where true derangement lies. It is with Trump, and all who follow him.

The President of the United States during a speech in which he instructed followers to attack the Capitol.

The people who “broke through” barriers and police lines around the Capitol building were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to attack democracy at its heart. They wandered around the halls and ransacked offices. Some walked off with souvenirs as if they owned the place. That’s what they have been told to believe by Donald Trump, that they own America.

One of the mobsters on patrol posed with his feet up on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. The arrogance and hate and misogyny of that single act, along with the theft of her nameplate from the office, constitutes an act of political rape. Like Trump, his followers think any brand of rape is funny as long as there are enough people around to laugh along with you. “You just grab them by the pussy…” Trump once bragged.

He thinks he owns the place.

We were also treated to the sight of people toting the Confederate Flag around inside the United States Capitol building. That act alone is a brand of sedition, insurrection and criminal trespassing. That man should have been arrested on the spot. He’s holding a symbol of insurrection.

The mob participant carrying a Confederate flag inside the United States Capitol building.

We fought a Civil War a little more than one hundred years ago to defeat that flag. The Confederacy had seceded from the Union ostensibly over the autonomous right of states to conduct their own business. That included slavery at the time. A bloody war was fought to rid the nation of slavery and reunite with states that walked away from the greater concept of a nation built around equality, not a brand of raw commerce that abused human rights. Trump has revealed that a significant number of Americans do not accept unity, equal rights or fair treatment of immigrants, people seeking asylum or even children born here in America who want to stay.

Instead, we find so-called Americans toting around the flag that stood for slavery, torture, abuse, and racism. That is deplorable. But that’s not even the point. The embrace of thin-skinned Confederate mentality by the MAGA crowd is not even the most horrific part of the Trump presidency.

The worst part in all of this is that 74 million people believe that Trump is right about America. They’ve absorbed his angry greed and allowed it to infect their souls and even convert their religion to a defense of his selfish need for adoration. What Trump stands for is not communal good. It is selfish complaint and cries of victimhood whenever you don’t get what you want. 74 million people think that brand of political leadership is just great. They believe so strongly that they assembled in Washington and breached the Capitol by breaking out windows, threatening police and forcing legislators to endure a siege that symbolizes everything that’s wrong with Trumpism, and America. All because they claim the election was “stolen” from them. The perversely spoiled and childlike lack of discipline in those contentions is indicative of a psychosis wrought by propaganda, gaslighting and raw dishonesty.

People still buy it because conspiracy theories sound convincing and a secret source of “information” called QAnon convinces repressed church ladies and Proud Boys and televangelists preachers they have something to fight for because pedophiles are taking over the world, or whatever. If there is evil to be fought, America long-ago proved it is up to the task in situations such as World War II. But let’s not forget that Black Americans who served in that war came home to Jim Crow laws and the same old racial discrimination they’d left behind.

It took decades of struggle and the non-violent work of leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to make civil rights gains. Trump came along and encouraged people who fear those changes to flaunt white supremacy and the xenophobia and nationalism that comes along with it. Those “policies” where architected by a Trump staffer named Stephen Miller, who contrived all sorts of hateful strategies to appeal to Trump’s dog-whistle brand of populism. That’s why people felt justified in storming the Capitol yesterday. They felt like their “newly won” rights to discriminate and subjugate were being taken away again. Their claim that the election was “stolen” and the attempt to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as President is the direct outcome of Trump’s personal and professional record of racism and ugly landlord psychology.

Attacking the Capitol. Trump supporters. Egged on by the President.

The symbolism of their acts at the Capitol proves that for some people, the lessons of American history including hard-fought progress in civil rights legislation, environmental protection and financial regulation mean nothing even when all three of those things serve to protect the livelihoods and health of average working Americans. They’d rather trust that a slogan such as Make America Great Again covers their petty grievances and their fears about minorities having too much say in society, about gay people getting married, and about women having access to birth control and a legal right to end a pregnancy somehow threaten their “rights” to exist in America.

Trump appealed to that brand of victimhood with a sickeningly effective approach, conducting firebrand rallies where his manner of speech oozed empathy for the supposed cause of those waving Trump flags and wearing red MAGA hats while he lied to them about everything he promised to do, including keeping Americans safe from the threat of a dangerous pandemic.

Meanwhile Trump played golf 308 times during his four years in office, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s basically a full year of time spent on the golf course rather than serving the people of America. He did all that despite publicly criticizing President Obama for golfing while claiming during his campaign that “I’ll be too busy working to play golf.”

The lies of Trump have stacked up like political cordwood. Trump’s obvious plan was to set fire to them all after a political coup in which he assumed absolute power and could destroy even public records from his corrupt first term in office. If he won again, who would dare stop him?

The next thirteen days in the United States of America will be a test of character like we’ve never seen before. Clearly the MAGA crowd and conspiracy theorists saw no wrongdoing in the mob riot yesterday. Some fecklessly tried to write it off to Antifa in disguise.

An example of Trump’s ugly “policies” that amount to abuse and consumption.

But we know the faces of the instigators. We saw that Confederate flag holder and know the identity of that man sitting at Pelosi’s desk.

Most of all, we know who started all this, and how we have to end it. Trump has been voted out of office and disgraced by his actions since the election. Leading up to yesterday’s insurrection, Trump lied and cajoled, even making phone calls to encourage vote fraud to earn him a victory in Georgia.

For these actions, he should be impeached or prosecuted and banned from ever holding public office of any kind, ever again. His civil and financial crimes should be investigated and publicized in full. His corrupt legacy should be cleansed from the United States government and his perverse version of religious fraud, political deception and conspiracy-based power should be confronted with the greatest force possible, which is truth.