On Trump’s Megalomania

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

I have been observing Trump since 2016. He is a despot in a business suit. He is undermining the government and the health of Americans and the natural world. He says he’s a billionaire and proud of it. And to prove how far he stands from the wishes and aspiration of Americans, he filled his cabinet mostly with billionaires.

It’s as if, with Trump competing for the presidency, the country went into a frenzy: turning down Hillary Clinton, the first woman seeking the country’s highest office, and electing Trump the billionaire.

Naturally, Trump lived up to his money reputation and opened the national treasury to fellow oligarchs. Americans naively thought nothing of it. Economists rushed to excuse tax cuts and subsidies to the super rich and polluting petroleum and chemical corporations. Their gospel says that is necessary for a more “efficient” economy and government.

Trump’s government, however, has nothing to do with efficiency, but everything with widening the chasm between rich and poor and precipitating a climate and environment catastrophe.

Trump has been taking advantage of the deep schisms in America, which elevated him to the presidential throne. The moment I heard him talk in 2016, I knew he would bring to the White House his dangerous qualities of hubris, greed, cheating and lies, and contempt for democracy.

The government of Trump

He revealed his immorality with his deregulation, by far his most dangerous effect and legacy.

I remember Ronald Reagan, who remains Trump’s role model. Reagan made deregulation a high priority. But I don’t think he understood the significance of saying that the government was the enemy. Trump does.

Reagan’s confused vision of America was molded by Hollywood, business, and the military. Trump imagines he’s above the law and society. His America resembles the British TV soap opera: Upstairs-Downstairs, lords and slaves.

He has been exploiting his position as a businessman-president to the outmost. Private and government interests merge in his mind. He is certain he is the state.

His administration and, especially, the crippled and politicized EPA, weakened and eliminated in some instances even very poor federal protections of the environment and public health.

Imagine, if you can, a government allowing nerve poisons in the food infants, young children, and adults eat. With the exception of those manufacturing pesticides who are thoroughly amoral, I cannot conceive of a human being with even minimal standards of morality and decency who would willfully approve of this reality, that is, toxic food and agriculture under the Trump administration.

So, unless you eat food, which is certified organic (meaning it’s free of pesticides and genetic engineering), you eat food laced with neurotoxins and carcinogens.

It boggles the mind why this thoroughly  undemocratic, immoral, anti-science, unacceptable, and dangerous state of food  fails to bring to the streets the thousands upon thousands of doctors, public health experts, scientists, and environmentalists who probably know or, at least, suspect that something is wrong with dosing food with poisons.

Some of the scientists and experts see the numerous spray aircraft buzzing over farms. And the farmers complement the spraying agricultural air force with their own spray machines. Scientific observers of the poisons that hit crops from the sky and the land must be speculating what is in the sprays washing the crops they eat.

Moreover, bad food and agriculture hurt more than those eating food. The entire ecosystem of land and air, insects, including beneficial insects like honeybees and Monarch butterflies, birds, wildlife, streams, rivers, lakes and mountains are harmed by the farmers’ incessant rains of synthetic chemicals over food crops.

Why Republicans like Trump

And, yet, almost nothing seems to matter. Millions of Americans, perhaps as much as 40 percent of the population, like Trump, and will probably vote for his reelection.

In fact, Trump’s accomplishments, he tells his mystified followers, is to deny climate change and push for more petroleum, coal, and natural gas – the very products causing and fueling global warming. He tells his followers additional lies that his deregulation creates jobs. He speaks to destitute coal miners, promising them to resurrect their moribund industry.

What Trump fails to tell his followers is that climate change is already in their backyards: in the form of massive forest fires, hurricanes, flooding and drought. These anthropogenic phenomena are devastating East and West, North and South.

Trump keeps lying about his negligence to warn Americans about the horrific coronavirus plague paralyzing the country and killing hundreds of thousands of people.

So, why a substantial number of Americans are putting their trust and probably faith on Trump? His own niece, Mary Trump, calls him the world’s most dangerous man. His potential reelection, the New York Times warns, will be catastrophic for American democracy.

I already mentioned the billionaire class, and the countless minions working hard for them, see Trump as one of them. Their growing wealth and power comes from Wall Street banking, petroleum extraction, logging, the manufacturing of warplanes and munitions, including the “modernization” of nuclear bombs, and the ceaseless production of computers, cars, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and other products for industry and agriculture.

White power

These bankers and industrialists are overwhelmingly white Americans who inherited most of their wealth, or enough to spark more wealth. They see the federal government and country as their own.

They  don’t know, however, what to do with black Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities. Their history books tell them their ancestors slaughtered the indigenous inhabitants of America. But now in 2020, that option of slaughtering no longer exists, so they are confused. They don’t consider non-whites worthy of American citizenship, much less of being equal to themselves under the law.

Trump’s racism and xenophobia fit nicely in the “conservative” agenda of corporate billionaires. It’s a first step in their redefining America as an oligarchy, an empire strictly of their own making. The world they envision is a rapidly changing international system of one superpower against all.

The other non-billionaire Americans who side with the madness of Trump, the environmental destroyer, includes hunters, looters of public wealth, and those in love with their guns and football. To these aspiring militia men one needs to add those who love the model and violence of the Hollywood hero John Wayne.

Moreover, I can only guess that the gigantic gap between rich and poor, the lavish life of the few, and the day to day struggle and hard life of the vast majority, is another underlying cause that Americans, mostly Republicans, are supporting Trump. Add to this wealth-poverty volcano, the decades-old “conservative” propaganda of billionaire-funded talk radio and commercial television like Fox News, and you have the ingredients for the politics of the Republican Party, which gave birth to Trump as a popular hero or potential tyrant.

Spreading political superstitions

In fact, the conspiracy-superstition QAnon raging among Republicans shows the depths of desperation and depravity afflicting members of the Republican Party.

The secret leader of QAnon and the faithful are spreading the dangerous nonsense that elites, especially of the Democratic variety, are indulging in child trafficking, devil worship, and  pedophilia.

In addition, QAnon faithful are turning to Trump, hoping beyond hope he would drain the swamp, as he promised to do. What they don’t know or refuse to acknowledge or understand is that Trump built his own swamp: that is, as a businessman and president, he “transplanted favor-seeking in Washington to his family’s hotels and resorts — and earned millions as a gatekeeper to his own administration.”

QAnon Republicans are a small fragment of a large white power movement like that of Proud Boys. This white movement is “supremacist,” in a sense, believing and fighting for the perpetuation of white power monopoly in America.

White supremacists give Trump virtues he does not have. The supposed inventor of QAnon, for example, said in 2017 that the “deep state” is threatening Trump.

This extraordinary story reminds me of equal abhorrent myths circulating for centuries in dark age Europe. These myths usually were offsprings  of the prevailing religion or heresies of that religion.

The task for Biden

One hopes that Joe Biden is our next president. He should do his utmost to bring the country together and, equally important, mobilize America and the countries of the world to eliminate the human causes of climate change.

Evaggelos Vallianatos is a historian and environmental strategist, who worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of seven books, including the latest book, The Antikythera Mechanism.