[The content of the post to follow literally woke me up at 4 am tonight.]
After I posted about Rationalization #3A, Pollyanna’s Mantra, the latest rationalization for the Ethics Alarms master list, I received requests on the blog and off of it for a useful example of the rationalization in practice. As it happens, there is one that could hardly be more immediate.
The silver lining of the Democrats winning the election a month from now is that Donald J. Trump will not be President for another four years.
It is hard to imagine anyone who would not regard that development, in isolation and by itself, to not justify a long sigh of relief. Trump’s Presidency is exhausting, even for his supporters. It isn’t all his fault, but it is nearly all because of him—the constant political warfare, the never-ending puling and carping from the news media, the mind-numbing boredom from the social media Borg seeking approval by daily Trump-bashing.
Then there is the chaos, which began literally on Day One and never abated. The President is a chaos manager by style and instinct. I have worked for such people, and they can be effective. “My greatest talent,” one of them told me, ”is that if you turn off the lights and everyone panics, I’m the one who is in a better place in the room when the lights go back on.” That’s Trump. The problem is that nobody likes being in an environment that can be thrown into chaos at any moment, and eventually the stress drives victims mad.
As long as Trump is President, we will have the tweets, and the pit of our stomach dread that he’s going to say something that’s impulsive, incendiary, repulsive, or that the news media will deliberately interpret in the most negative light possible. As long as he is President, I know my friends and relatives are likely to parrot back one of the Big Lies that have been used to undermine his attempts to do his job, and I will have to decide whether to slap them in the face with facts, earning their resentment. As long as he is President, I know that the political process won’t work, because his opposition believes, in its unreasoning hate, that his flaws justify abandoning all ethical principles and the practices necessary to make democracy viable. As long as he is President, I am going to be furious and exasperated that he cannot speak more clearly and eloquently, that he cannot act as a leader of the whole nation (both because of his limitations and the limitations unfairly placed on him by others), that he does not have the leadership and rhetorical skills to build consensus when even a mildly competent politician would, given the facts at hand.
I could go on in this vein for many pages, especially if I expand the list to the incidental annoyances that will abate with his removal, like the deterioration of late night comedy shows into nothing but anti-Trump agitprop. Perhaps, although I wouldn’t wager on it, the ethical rot of the nation’s journalism establishment might be slowed, if not reversed.
No, I won’t miss having Donald Trump in the White House; far from it.
Unfortunately, the circumstances that will coincide with the welcome end of the Trump Presidency, the changes and possibly permanent results brought about by the actions of the same people and groups who have opposed this President so relentlessly and unfairly, will be so disastrous that his exit will be no more worth the carnage than a change in the official White House china pattern.
The methods used to destroy and end the Trump administration will now be institutionalized in American politics, along with the division and toxic passions they engender. The Presidency itself has been permanently weakened. Impeachment has been normalized and weaponized as a means of political warfare rather than the rarely-used safety valve the Founders intended. Our electoral process and democratic traditions, which have served the nation and its political stability well, have lost the faith of the public, as rejecting the legitimacy of the Electoral College and other institutions became an essential ingredient of the anti-Trump strategy.
In order to focus on the sole objective of vanquishing the President, the once trustworthy Democratic Party allied itself with and eventually embraced the anti-American values and objectives of the extreme Left, for which achieving the transformational power to crush the American traditions and values that have guided and nourished this nation was the real objective all along.
We have lost the consensus regarding the nation’s founding, its heroes and achievements. The basic truths of Jefferson’s mission statement are now sneered at routinely. The absence of Trump will be incidental to the diminishment of free speech, the discrediting of the nation’s belief in individualism and dissent, the acceptance and facilitation of racial and gender discrimination, and the end of a cultural commitment to integrity, equal opportunity, free enterprise, due process, earned citizenship, and the rule of law. Journalism will be permanently transformed into a propaganda organ of the Left; literature, entertainment, sports and the arts will similarly be smothered in political correctness and mandatory ideological conformity.
To abridge the parade of horribles in the interest of space, let us just sat that the United States as we have known it will seek to exist as the culture capitulates to the socialist and utopian lies that have stifled so many national cultures, leading them to insipid mediocrity at best, and totalitarianism at worst.
But we won’t have to put up with Trump, so it’s all worth it.
We will have, in the parlance of the Vietnam War, destroyed the United States of America in order to save it from, not the policies of Presient Trump, but his personality, rhetoric and manner. The “silver lining” of this wide-ranging and probably irreversible catastrophe will be avoiding four more years of a narcissistic creep.
Before the pandemic, with typically warped logic, comedian Bill Maher told his gallery of anti-American rabble that he wished for the collapse of the economy in order to eliminate the strongest component of the President’s popular support. When a guest explained that such a collapse would have terrible human and national consequences, Maher said, not joking, “It will be worth it.” Similarly, those who have blindly brought America to the brink of totalitarianism, oppression, violence and even civil war will still point to the defeat of Donald Trump as the silver lining in the product of their efforts, the blackest cloud to cover the U.S. since the 1860s and perhaps ever.
No, it will not have been worth it. It will not even be a mitigation.