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American Horror Story

We sit around the coffee table and as much as we’d like, there is no avoiding the topic: Trump. Sometimes, it’s his tweets. Then there was his attempt to explain Helsinki, snowballing as it did into Helsinkigate with foam-at-the-mouth rage by corporate media actors who screamed treason that Trump was Mr. Congeniality when he met face-to-face with that existential menace, Putin. Even some who consider themselves liberal/progressives appear to prefer war with Russia than rapprochement. And when we mash on that befuddlement, it’s with a near-certainty that Putin must have the goods on Trump, something more threatening than information about a golden shower or liaisons with prostitutes. Would be reassuring if we could conceive of something positive about Trump, but so far, no. He’s just too untrustworthy and, well, unstable.

We shake our heads, questioning why and how people—even some we socialize with, including relatives—voted for the blob-like slob who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The answer becomes obvious. Trump devotees either are benefiting financially or they’re racists. Eventually, we agree that the wealthy who defend their choice of Trump with words like, “he’s good for the economy” or “my taxes will be lower” are racists too.

I explain to my guy and my children the difficulty I have with writing now. Sure, I can express despair about the narcissistic huckster at the helm, citing his petulance, the bragging, reaction to criticism, body language, inadequate vocabulary, the lying, the emotional lability, yet I know he’s just another iteration of George W. Bush, both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama in the areas of domestic and foreign policy. (And that’s not reaching into the past far enough.) Trump though is a cruder version. But still there’s something worse.

Some will take issue with this. After all, how can he be worse than either of the Clintons? Than Ronald Reagan? Than the Viet Nam war presidents? How can he be worse than Bush? Than Obama, the drone master who boasted that he was good at killing?

He. Just. Is.

Because he blatantly encourages hatred of anyone who isn’t a member of the white tribe. Confession: With that written, I think, yes, and that’s what any president, “leadership,” engages in to manipulate the masses, encouraging the demonization of an entire people. It’s the same strategy used in boot camp to objectify an “enemy.”

But there’s something worse about Trump—his terrifyingly overt white supremacy and open authoritarianism. It’s as if his legacy will be referred to as American Horror Story. I felt this way about Bush and Obama though. So much so that I know it’s not just these men, not a president, but instead the system, one that commodifies our basic needs and thus our lives.

We sit around, talking Trump. Shaking our heads. When we should be working together to dismantle capitalism, building an alternative for peace and justice.

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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