BRUCE A. JACOBS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Donald Trump successively outdoes his own descent into further debasement of the presidency and of human decency itself. The president's recent low on the world stage was his taking a wrecking ball to the 2018 G7 talks, during and after which he hurled personal insults and lies at world leaders and reneged on a negotiated agreement he had agreed to sign. Think Khrushchev banging his shoe on the table at the United Nations, but then imagine him hurling it into the crowd as a device rigged to explode.
In the ruins of Trump's G7, prime ministers and the press staggered amid the flames and debris. "Trump stuns allies, won't sign G7 joint agreement," shouted Politico as it chronicled the details of Trump's latest blitzkrieg. A photo of the Trump-centered chaos at the gathering, released by the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, became an instant icon of Trump's singular talent as a locus of destruction. There sat Trump, alone at the table, arms folded petulantly, at the center of attention as he always demands, surrounded by a group of standing adults, led by Merkel, beseeching him to yield and to allow the class to pick up where it left off before he began throwing things.
Trump's role as a battering, shark-like destroyer has been well-chronicled for years. He has long been deservedly pegged as an arch-villain of all that is constructive and productive in politics. For years, the mortal danger that Trump poses to a coherent and functional American government has been the subject of thoughtful and fearful analysis by observers in the media. Like any charismatic confidence man who rolls into a dying town carrying truckloads of lethal weapons and hate but who offers no building materials or food, he is an angel of death. As Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) described her own dawning realization of Trump's reflexively destructive approach:
You sensed it before, but now it's jelling in people's minds. This was a completely different kind of administration. We had to consider that this was a really focused deconstructive effort.
All of that is devastatingly true as far as it goes. But mere destructiveness may not even be the half of it.
The disaster we have witnessed to date may prove to be more the beginning than the end of the damage done by Trump to the US and the world. Whether by intent or by mere consequence -- and attributing long-term intent to Trump is dicey at best -- his destruction of this nation's current faux-democratic machinery may yet open the door to a far worse incarnation of the country.
Trump's guttural and perfectly-timed rebuttal of the meritocratic lies of corporate monarchy is his dishonest but systemically true declaration that "the system is rigged," which he blends with his virulent racism and misogyny and his amoral alliance with anti-LGBTQ hatred to create a vile sabotage of a true progressive agenda. He gets away with this because of the cowardice of the Democratic Party, which fantasizes itself as "kind" but takes its wealthy white corporate-defined priorities for granted as the limits of the national conscience, and because of the utter amorality of the Republican Party, which will now say, do or ignore anything for the sake of power. Capital's resulting abandonment of the most disenfranchised members of the white body politic (the vast majority of we people of color have seen Trump for what he is since day one, thanks to our being targeted for centuries by the selective obscenities of white supremacy) has left the field wide open for Trump to promise his version of liberation to non-rich white people. For a group of white Americans who knew decades ago that so-called democracy in this country was broken but who lack the knowledge or moral mettle to embrace actual equality, Trump's "I am your voice" sounds like justice.
This lays a clear path for fascism. Not only does Trump cultivate a hardcore white base who will embrace his most selectively oppressive and, if need be, genocidal ideas and practices, but he also progressively incapacitates a functional state apparatus. This is key. Because the more things he breaks, the more immediate power Trump alone can claim to fix them.
The more international economic, political and military relations collapse, the more rules Trump can dictate amid the chaos to govern the purported self-protection of the Homeland. The more disastrously broken health care becomes, the more Trump can impose his (and his industry allies') choice of draconian policy prescriptions to increasingly panicked and disoriented drug companies, insurers, providers, employers and citizens. The more the nation's essential sense of safety evaporates on his watch, the freer Trump will feel to defy or disable the nuisances that impede his authority: Congress, separation of powers, due process, the Constitution. The more that Trump's policies and actions damage Americans' lives, with corporate Democrats and Republicans fleeing to either side of the flood plain according to their sense of what is practically survivable, the more power Trump will claim in the alleged interest of an imperiled and desperate citizenry. The thicker the smoke and the deadlier the heat in a hysterically stampeding United States, the more power Trump will feel entitled to seize in the harrowing moment.
Seize it he will, if given the opportunity. No plan is required here. Trump's very nature is the firing mechanism that makes his weaponry work. He is a born (or at least early-bred) liar, a compulsively indefatigable bully, an intuitively predatory manipulator of others' egos and fears, and a person so devoid of morals or principles as to be utterly immune to conscience of any kind. Few people -- including those who agree to work for him or who vote for him and cheer him on -- have ever seen anything like him. It would be difficult to design a more perfect machine of deceit, ruthlessness and audacity. When all else fails, Trump can cause opponents to fall by virtue of simple exhaustion.
Seen this way, destruction is Trump's friend, and national damage is a mere prelude. For a power vulture like Donald Trump, the worse things become for the nation, the better they are for his next meal.
Trump's danger as a "destroyer" is, in a twisted way, a comforting underestimation of the threat he poses. Things can get far, far worse than the mere destruction of ostensibly democratic norms, as we know from the not-so-distant Western past. Virulent atrocities of state can thrive in such wreckage. As awful and as wicked as today's American regime has rapidly become, Trump has opened a path toward a potential future -- panic, institutional chaos and ultimately fascism -- that could become, one shocking edict at a time, the nightmare successor to the alleged "American dream."