Trump’s Internship in Dictatorships

Over the last four years we’ve seen that Trump has been carrying out what I call his “Internship on Dictatorships”.  When you think about it, that’s the only project he has taken seriously.

From day one in office Trump has been disciplined and consistent about planting discord with our allies, while cultivating friendships with thug regimes around the world.

Trump’s stubborn loyalty to Putin overwhelms his loyalty to the United States of America.  On the international stage, Trump declared he believed Putin over his own intelligence community.

Our president has also said he gets love letters from Kim Jong-un; and he makes deals with Erdogan. Trump’s White House has honored Bolsonaro and other dictators he likes to entertain with pomp and circumstance.

Recall Trump’s trip to Philippines to visit murderous strongman Duterte, soon after Duterte declared to the world that Obama was the son of a whore. That racist remark instantly elevated Duterte to Trump’s-new-buddy status, and Trump couldn’t wait to go see him.

Imagine how much public money Trump’s junket to Philippines burned through!  It costs taxpayers a fortune every time we transport president and entourage, which includes his huge international security detail, his family, plus whatever friends and moochers they may decide to invite for the ride.

Like dictators elsewhere, Trump’s most important contribution has been his effectiveness at igniting division and violence through the misuse of state power. He’s been selling fear and racial hatred to an increasingly divided America.

Trump keeps spreading his poison for personal gain, chillingly unmoved when tossing the whole country under the bus of Covid-19.  Hell, if that’s what it takes to win reelection, so be it. It is what it is, right?

Contrary to what many people have said, Trump has grown on the job.  But only in the sense that today he’s a better demagogue than he was four years ago; more emboldened in his lies; more insolent and defiant in his thievery and corruption. He is a bigger monster now than he was before he took office.  The ineffective response from the Democratic Party has given Trump ample time to grow bigger.  Now he is a formidable beast.

And yet with all this privilege and power Trump lives in a constant rage.  Just watch his rallies; or check the torrent of choleric tweets he emits day and night. The guy is an alarmingly dangerous and dysfunctional force encrusted in the White House.

An age-old problem is catching up with Trump, and he’s anxious about it:  When you just think about yourself, all you’re left with is you.


In that isolation, which ironically can happen when surrounded by lots of people, Trump did what dictators have done. He learned early on that he needed to assemble his own hand-picked coterie of crime-prone mediocrities willing to swear personal loyalty to him, eager to join the cancer of his cult.

That cult has included, of course, installing new far-right loyalist judges no matter if unqualified or incompetent for the bench. Trump has confirmed close to three hundred of them!  The man never sleeps.

If we all fight like hell we may keep from falling into another four years of Trump’s incendiary takeover.  If the Democratic Party finally takes off the gloves, stops pulling punches, and hits back in real time every time Trump throws another punch, then we’ll put Trump out of office and begin the gradual social and economic reconstruction of the US in future years.

But if Trump wins reelection he’ll be a more tyrannical autocrat than he’s been so far. Then America’s civic and democratic decline will be fully baked in.

Already our rentier economy is pushing American citizens in that direction, because money is like oxygen: its absence is not life-compatible.  Too many working people are broke and unemployment is getting worse.

Forget the siren song of the Dow Jones and the S&P and the Nasdaq Composite. Those indices are the discourse of the rich talking to the rich. They’re irrelevant to the masses of working people who own no stock.

Until we change the inhumane regressive tax structure we have today, which overtaxes the worker and undertaxes equity, we will be doomed as a society.  Until we change the unsustainable system that the top fraction of the one percent has evolved for its own advantage over the last forty years, and much of the rest of the financialized world has copied, the majority of working American families — especially Black and Brown — will continue to endure the tyranny of non-living wages.  Labor in the United States is worse off today than it was four years ago.

Every day our deepening social and economic divisiveness keeps vomiting up new problems that need fixing.  So when is all this catching up supposed to take place?

Fixing the country piecemeal in this chaos feels like fixing a sinking ship in the middle of a storm.  The storm is preventing the boat from getting to dry dock. Dry dock is the only place where the mandatory big repairs can get done on it if it intends to stay seaworthy.

So far, Trump and goons have turned America’s boat into the Ship of Fools, with some people on deck pumping out water trying not to sink, while others help Trump throw gasoline on the fires that are burning.

But in the final analysis, it is the ocean of history that always prevails. So the big question is, can American democracy stay the course and keep sailing long enough to reach the dry-dock reset it needs?  I don’t know.

Without a major reset, it is clear we will sink as a society. Our societal problems are beyond the occasional Band-Aid fixes the ruling class has been willing to grant.  People are getting crushed under the weight of our murderous casino capitalism that insists “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

The last four hundred years of history have shown the United States was forged on the mandate of conquest.  They’ve also shown that America is not the first empire, and will not be the last. What all giants have in common is they eventually fall.

Empires fall after tyrants grab the reins of power and break their nation’s spirit for their own personal gain.  That recipe is the enormous historical crime that keeps repeating and never fails to fail.