The Politics of Good Vs. Evil 

Unlike former years, the election of 2020 is not just about Republican versus Democrat, the economy versus public health or fiscal conservative versus liberal and progressive. It’s not about policy differences where reasonable minds may differ.  Rather, this year’s election is a contest of values.  It pits American citizens against an administration that daily practices human disregard and cruelty.

We’ve watched in disbelief as an indifferent and grossly negligent administration has allowed thousands of our fellow citizens to die of Covid-19 from presidential neglect and contempt for public health norms. With infections still surging in many parts of the country, the national death toll now exceeds 180,000–while most of the rest of the world has experienced declining infections and fatalities.

In addition to the Senate’s recent revelations of the Trump campaign’s illicit cooperation with a foreign adversary to steal the 2016 election, we now witness the President’s unabashed efforts to undermine or postpone the fall election.  His continuing attempts to obstruct voter registration, strip the post office of the resources it needs to accommodate absentee balloting and sow public doubts as to the integrity of the upcoming election, are body blows to American democracy.

To appease and reward industry lobbyists, Trump has stripped away regulations that protect the environment and public health. We’ve endured a Trump “tax reform” that has enriched the wealthy and neglected the poor. Brazenly depriving citizens of their health care, the President has chipped away at Obamacare benefits. To remove existing financial protections for seniors, he now proposes to eliminate the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

Over the past 44 months, we’ve listened with dismay to Trump’s repeated lies, exaggerations and false promises.  We’ve often seen his racist tweets that denigrate people of color, badmouth the LGBTQ community and legitimize right-wing extremists and violent policing.  We have visual evidence of his ongoing misogamy, disrespect of women and personal indecency.

For the past three and a half years, we the people have stood face-to-face with unmitigated evil. We’ve seen violence-fleeing asylum seekers cruelly turned away at the border, children as young as four months separated from their parents and confined in cages, housed in private prisons or sent to foster homes, Meanwhile an out-of-control ICE pursues peaceful residents who simply lack “papers,” like the fugitive slave hunters of the 1840’s. With similar cruelty, the President has praised his sharp-edged border wall for its capacity to inflict serious injury on migrant climbers and to prosecute a humanitarian organization for simply offering water and food to people stranded in the desert.

Despite frequent right-to-life boasts, Trump has allowed his Attorney General to reinstate federal executions.  He has condoned police violence against peaceful protesters and ordinary civilians that has sometimes taken lives.  He has mobilized combat-garbed federal troops in military vehicles who teargas and otherwise brutalize American citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Ignoring the continuing threat of school shootings and assault rifle massacres, he has openly identified with the pro-gun NRA, an organization now revealed as thoroughly corrupt. Having pledged to “drain the swamp” in DC, he continues to befriend and ally himself with tainted individuals, many of whom have been convicted or indicted.  His own conflicts of interest are manifest as he advances his corporate properties at home and abroad.

Among Trump’s latest outrages against the people he swore to protect is his open identification with QAnon, an obscure spinner of the baseless theory that an anti-Trump “deep state” practices satanism and child sex trafficking.

Now we learn from a new Senate report that Trump and his minions did indeed cooperate with the Russians to steal the 2016 election.  Contrary to Mr. Barr’s characterization, the Mueller Report in no way “exonerated” the President.

What have the Trump years taught us?  That the President serves only himself and that he lacks basic integrity. We’ve seen Trump’s cruel policies and corrupt political associations as manifestations of evil.

In November, Americans will decide whether or not to allow the White House to continue to wallow in lawlessness and depravity.


L. Michael Hager is cofounder and former Director General, International Development Law Organization, Rome.