The Divided States of Trumpistan?

With the end of the Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump the partisan divide is deepened and acquittal a mere formality. Mitch McConnell promised to quickly acquit Trump of the charges, he did so with no witnesses or evidence provided. It leaves me wondering what this leaves of American democracy, the Constitution, and where is the justice?

Senators took oaths—twice—to swear to defend the Constitution and also to act as unbiased jurors, but there is no evidence that Republicans took this seriously. After all, there are many questions that are unanswered, pieces of evidence to examine, and witnesses to hear from. This is the type of acquittal that one might expect in a country like Pakistan, which routinely scores low in indices of corruption and judicial integrity. It is not reflective of blind justice or transparent democracy. With this wholesale corrupt partisan divide and the apparent establishment of a Trump Loyalist Party I worry about the future, what do the Divided States of Trumpistan look like?

Trump has been accused of violating the US Constitution in serving his own political interests through efforts to extort political interference from Ukraine and for abusing his office in covering his crimes up. He wants to launch investigations against his political opponents, and his legal counsel suggests that anything he does to get reelected is an act of public interest. If the Trump loyalists put their loyalty pledges ahead of their oaths to defend the Constitution and serve unbiased justice, then it seems he can get away with anything. Trump and his lawyers have argued that “legally, he really could [shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it]—and no one could do a thing about it.” Is that what Trumpistan looks like?

I fear Trumpistan because its emperor wears no clothes. Rather than heed the advice of experts, dissent is pushed out and alienated. Blunder after blunder the failures are persistent. There was never a doubt about the futility of Trump’s border wall project, but it could not be more laughable than to see the discovery of another highly sophisticated tunnel system in the same week that winds blew the wall over and openings to allow for gully-washing floods were carved out. The great beacon of freedom—the Statue of Liberty—stand with the inscription: “give me your tired, your poor…” But the offer was invalidated on 1/27/2020 when the Supreme Court decided the next iteration of Trump’s class war—denying green cards to people who might, at some point, need federal assistance—was Constitutional. Forget E pluribus unum (Latin for “Out of many, one”) if Trump knew Latin he would declare: Absque argento omnia vana— Without money all is in vain! Perhaps, in relief, he will opt for the Wu Tang Clan version: Cash Rules Everything Around Me!

Trumpistan is the devolution of global efforts towards peace and justice. Land mines have been banned by most of the world, because they are a threat to civilians long after wars end, but Trump will expand the use of land mines. Anti-corruption laws are seen as an obstacle to completive business practices, Trump calls The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act “horrible.” No doubt, we will make bribery great again. So much for his gaslighting claim about wanting to help clean up corruption in Ukraine.

Trumpistan is broadly dystopic. The corruption he promotes appears to have served him well, he famously bankrupts businesses and brags about it in showcasing how “brilliant” he is. He takes advantage of legal loopholes to grift and leave contractors unpaid. But it gets so much worse, in Trump’s world teachers (like me) should have to pay bribes in order to teach, in turn we should receive good favors for the grades we administer. Police officers could handle crimes out of court with fines paid directly to them. He is a businessman—they say—so why shouldn’t everything be for sale?

Nepotism has reared its ugly head. Lifetimes of service and expertise are not something to be valued in Trumpistan. King Trump’s princess Ivanka makes a great Senior Advisor, forget her qualifications for “on the education and economic empowerment of women and their families as well as job creation and economic growth through workforce development, skills training and entrepreneurship” according to the White House website she “founded an eponymous lifestyle brand.” Her husband Jared Kushner did not need to go to school to declare: “Palestinians have never done anything right in their sad, pathetic lives” before warning “do not screw up this opportunity” when speaking about his “solution” to the intractable conflict in the Middle East.

I am sure Trump will tell us about the “peace plan,” “they said it could not be done…” and I’ll give you the spoiler: it wasn’t. The Trump administration’s plan for apartheid will not create peace, it is obscene, and it would be comedy if not for the real-world horror it is. It is no wonder that he has desperately wanted to create a state-run media source to tell the stories the ways he wants them told. There is no room for an unofficial fourth branch (the media) providing oversight on the checks and balances of the three branches of government in Trump’s world.

Maybe it is hyperbole. We are three years and 16,000 lies into Trump’s presidency. We are at the end of a trial to remove him from office where the conclusion was foretold; his jurors have told us: he did it, it was wrong for him to do it, and so what? They want us to leave it to the voters with no care that his charge was for trying to cheat in the upcoming election.

Maybe Republicans will find a backbone and will push Trump’s loyalists out. Maybe citizens will unite in mass action; Existentially threatened—our air and water are even for sale! (along with 95 other environmental roll backs), nonviolent force may be the only chance for citizens to remove this dangerous administration and its un-American loyalists.

Or maybe the “perfect” crime has earned us the King we never wanted. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” These are challenging times indeed. Where do we stand?

Wim Laven has a PhD in International Conflict Management, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Executive Boards of the International Peace Research Association and the Peace and Justice Studies Association.