Trump is Trump, and cannot be blamed for being who he is. The chances are zero that he can become someone else. He is a full-blooded egotistical braggart and buffoon. Much of what he says is untrue. Most of what he does in unworthy. His agenda evidences a repudiation of human values. He has fouled the nest that is America. While impeachment is a tricky and perhaps untimely remedy, perhaps the best place to start is to deny him the power that comes with the control of Congress — and the opportunity to do just that defines the importance of the mid-term elections.
There was an era dating sometime from the last decade of the 19th century to the advent of World War II — when the rest of the world viewed the United States as composed of arrogant, money-grubbing, gun-toting, power-hungry cowboys. That image was largely overcome when we came to the defense of Europe following the rise of fascism. Then came our vital contribution to the formation and support of The United Nations and the rebuilding of a world decimated by the war. Finally, there appeared the humanity evidenced in FDR’s New Deal and the Civil Rights revolution. Perhaps America really was different than it often had been painted. But alas, the image of the nation Trump offers just resurrects the negative stereotype that we believed had been buried. When Trump talks about making America great again he may just mean an in-the-flesh restatement of the disastrous image that we trusted had been overcome.
It is also clear that there is now and always has been a rather small group of right-wingers who have until recently been in political hibernation. They now have peeked out of their cave and realized that with Trump as President they no longer need to stay hidden. Their first public action took place in Charlottesville, Virginia a year ago. They are Klan members and other identifiable racists, anti-internationalists, survivalists and right-wing semi-fascists. Like Trump, they are what they are and will not waver from their commitment to him no matter what he says or does. However, by themselves, they have only the power of any minority. Asking them to be different is as futile as asking Trump to be something he cannot be.
But there are three groups among Trump’s followers whose clout remains substantial, and whose votes could help defeat his agenda, thus saving America from continued disgrace.
First, there are those from rust-belt states who have believed that Trump’s agenda is the only legitimate way to secure their economic survival. The 4 percent level of growth in the economy offers enough hope for them to stay committed. But it all flows to the top. Wages for America’s workers have not risen in spendable dollars for sixty years, and sooner or later they may realize how empty have been their hopes.
Second, there are Christian evangelicals whose 80 percent support of Trump in the last election was a deciding factor. But what he offers is clearly the antithesis of the Christian ethical imperative. I believe as time goes on the radical difference between what he espouses and the vision Jesus offered will become increasingly obvious.
Third, there are growing numbers of GOP traditionalists who are beginning to realize that the Trump worldview is incompatible with the political and societal values the Republican Party has long affirmed. Having sold out too cheaply to a snake doctor, they may become aware they have made a foul deal. The most dramatic recent evidence of this dynamic lies in what every Republican leader had to say during the final tributes to John McCain, while the uninvited President was on his way to play golf at one of his resorts.
Given his thin majority in the Electoral College, in an election he lost by almost three million popular votes, minorities in each of these three groups may turn the tide. Indeed, that may already be happening. So the coming mid-term election becomes increasingly important. America is far better than the current President and his agenda has manifested. What is at stake is our national greatness.