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Donald Trump is Destroying My Mind

I have wasted the better part of the last six months reading hundreds of thousands of words of commentary about Donald Trump. I could have re-read War and Peace several times or a couple of dozen other books if I hadn’t been so concerned and frightened by the charlatan’s sudden rise. The events of this past week have shown me that most of the rest of this year will be dominated by Trump’s insane remarks, his childish attacks on anyone who dares criticize him, his attempt to destroy Hilary Clinton’s (or Bernie Sanders’) chance for the presidency. It’s a horrible picture. I wake up in the middle of the night with phony Trump on my mind. I worry constantly about the possibility of his becoming President of the United States. That’s not an irrational possibility, given his quick rise to Republican presidential candidate in the face of what most educated people believed to be impossible. Never in my entire life have I wasted so much time on a figure so unworthy of my attention—probably more time than it took to research and write my doctoral dissertation.

I’m angry—not the same way Trump’s followers are, even though I share their concern—because I believe that the media, especially the TV networks, have given him a free pass. Why haven’t they probed his inane remarks? (Details about “the Mexican wall,” for example.) Why do they permit him to get by with brief responses that in no way provide information or policy specifics about anything? When he says that he can’t release his tax records because he’s being audited, why don’t they ask Trump focused questions about his finances? The IRS says he can release those documents. Are the past ten years of Trump’s tax records all being audited, Vol-23-no-2-cover-158x200every one of them? What is his tax bracket? Ask a direct question: “Mr. Trump, do you pay any federal taxes?” I assume that he pays so little taxes to the federal government—not that he is worth considerably less than he says he is, as others have speculated—and that’s why he won’t release the documents. Voters should know whether Donald Trump pays his fair share of taxes. If he doesn’t, that will—or should—alter the entire calculus. In short, the media have permitted Trump to get by—or at least figuratively—with murder.

The thugs with whom Trump has increasingly surrounded himself ought to be the cause of major concern and investigation. Forget Cory Lewandowski, whose lashing out at people (physically, not only rhetorically) is a concrete extension of Trump’s statements at that protestors at his rallies ought to be thrown out or roughed up, rather than escorted out of these events without bodily harm. Since Trump has proposed the hit-them-back method numerous times, is that how he will treat people who oppose his agenda should he become President? That used to be known as “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” which is frightening as hell. Yet Lewandowski pales in the face of Paul Manafort, who has propped up some of the vilest Eastern European dictators of our time with dirty tricks and false information. Shouldn’t we all cringe now that Trump has been provided with Secret Service information and that highly secure information may be shared with Manafort?

The money on the Right (starting with Trump) is convinced that President Obama was not born in America but in Kenya and—worse—is a Muslim with a secret agenda to turn the United States into a Muslim nation, complete with Sharia law. Is it wrong for the Left to believe that Trump has a secret agenda to aid Vladimir Putin, using Paul Manafort as his liaison? That’s absurd, of course, but perhaps that lie should be promulgated the same way that Trump’s birther lie was so frequently repeated that all those people who dislike Obama because he’s a black man embraced it. Either Trump should dismiss Manafort or the Secret Service reports normally provided to presidential candidates should not be disseminated to him. Since Trump chose Manaford, the man’s past activities need to be considered as part of Trump’s position as the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.

These are scary times. The world faces mankind-altering problems (climate change, economic inequality, racism, mass migration) that one political party has continually refused to address. And now a demagogue is the Presidential candidate of that party. And although it’s only been a matter of days since Donald Trump became their candidate, one by one the Republicans who have professed that the man is a fake, well, one by one they’re starting to fall in line behind him. Look at Little Marco as Trump liked to call him, already saying that Trump isn’t so bad. He can support Trump. We know why Little Marco (who is getting smaller ever day) made this switch: he’s craven, like almost all of the other former Republican candidates. Watch Paul Ryan; he’ll cave too; it’s only a matter of time. The Republican Party has no business calling itself what it does. It’s the Craven Party. Always willing to sell out the country for personal gain.

So you wonder why I’m depressed, sleep-deprived, afraid and—yes—aware that I’m frittering my time away? Do I have a choice? Do any of us, if we believe that everything’s falling apart?

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Charles R. Larson is Emeritus Professor of Literature at American University, in Washington, D.C. Email = clarson@american.edu. Twitter @LarsonChuck.

August 20, 2018
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