Dog Days

Looking back on a month that sweltered under presidential affronts to America's founding principles

The ideals behind the founding of the United States are as revolutionary today as the day they were penned—and thanks to the Donald Trump administration, they’re nearly as fictional in our time as they were back then.

The belief, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal and deserve a voice in governing themselves was a laudable if narrow and hypocritical one in the eighteenth century. White men who owned land were the only people who counted. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum: A nation of immigrants took that belief seriously.

The United States became a refuge to oppressed people from all over the world. Those immigrants brought with them dreams, goals and a work ethic. They endeavored to form a more perfect union and in the process created a nation of diversity heretofore unseen on the planet.

The underdogs. The wretched refuse. Or as Bill Murray says in Stripes,We’re mutts!”

We built a great nation as lovable mutts and took great pride in thumbing our noses at those despots, demagogues, kings and authoritarians who held us down in our countries of origin. We weren’t inbred royals or strong men who kept others down. We were the New World, and we put the old world in its place by saying United We Stand, by showing that our diversity was our strength.

It was the minorities and immigrants who forced the Founding Fathers’ cultural descendants to look in the mirror and examine their own hypocrisies.

That light spread across the world and led to an awakening of the human spirit. Through this we made terrific advances in science, culture and entertainment. We took the best of every culture and made it our own.

It was the minorities and immigrants who forced the Founding Fathers’ cultural descendants to look in the mirror and examine their own hypocrisies. The idea of America was only put on the road to reality as we were forced to look at ourselves.

The idea evolved and continues to do so: For all Americans to be equal, it had to be no matter what color, race or gender you were. It had to be no matter what religion you practice. It had to include the LBGTQ community. It had to include all of those who thought differently but respected one another.

The nation was founded around the fundamental concept, voiced by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (paraphrasing Voltaire), that I may disagree with what you say, but I defend to death your right to say it. We’ve struggled since we broke away from the British Empire to fulfill that ideal too.

We couldn’t just be a Christian nation. We couldn’t be a European nation. The world would see for the first time a nation where everyone was equal and built by the common man: the mutt.

But today we are sedated into the belief that we’re the purebred Top Dog—that we can dictate, much as the old world empires did, who and what we can believe and force those who disagree with authority to bow in subservience to whoever is in charge.

To disagree, or to question the Donald Trump administration, has led to death threats, violence and recrimination previously unseen in the United States.

It isn’t just the fact that Donald Trump is the antithesis of the American Dream, which he is, but that millions blindly follow him. Trump is not an aberration of the system; he’s something far more frightening. He’s in a very real sense a representative of his time and place.

Where Mooch nailed it was in saying that Trump is 'actually worse than a racist...'

Earlier this month, the Brady Press Room opened for a rare public appearance by a member of the Trump administration. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services office came out and tried to explain the federal government’s newest immigration rules, which surprised few when it became apparent Trump’s government was going to make it harder for illegal immigrants and legal immigrants alike to enter the country.

When CBS radio’s Steve Portnoy, who’s also on the board of the WHCA, asked if we should change the poem on the Statue of Liberty that encourages the world to send us their wretched refuse, Cuccinelli confirmed the long held suspicion that the Trump administration is filled with racists, misogynists and general misanthropes. Around the same time, Cucinelli told NPR that the poem on the Statue of Liberty should say, “Give me your tired, your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

The poem actually says, “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Those aware of Cuccinelli’s background were hardly surprised by his callous and ignorant statements. He openly opposes same-sex marriage and believes climate change is a fraud. He’s perfect in an administration of racists, addled fools and known perverts. He is indicative of the internet trolls who threaten those capable of rational thought. He represents the mindless minions who accost news anchors in public and hurl racially charged epithets like “Fredo” at them.

Logic dictates that the millions who suffer from Trump Worship Syndrome be schooled up with science and history while being told they are still loved by the larger populace. It’s not so different from trying to wean someone from a dangerous cult. But those who suffer TWS are immune to logic. They have adopted the bullying mentality of the schoolyard and only react to a strong rebuke. Trump himself has claimed he is a “counter puncher” and he respects that in others.

Funny then that those who support Trump and bully others on social media while calling them “snowflakes” are the ones who scream the loudest when someone pushes back against their false narratives.

Also this month, and amid the fallout from his never-ending lies, charges of racism, the China Trade War, his continuing immigration debacle, the Mueller investigation, questions about his relationship with Jeff Epstein, the Middle East, Russia, North Korea, Syria, the economy, emoluments, Hatch Act violations, trying to suspend a reporter’s press pass, climate change, environmental problems and a wide variety of other scandals, Trump spent time in Bedminster, New Jersey on his own property, only popping his head out of his rabbit hole before he headed to the G7 to rant, rave, pump his fists and preach to his minions. There wasn’t much governing from the man who routinely looks at his supporters as suckers and treats them as such.

The highlight? Trump went after former communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who’s been sounding more and more like a possible GOP presidential candidate. The Mooch and Trump waged a Twitter war after Trump got personal and insulted his former employee. The Mooch parried: “He’s mentally declining,” he said. “He’s losing his step here in terms of how he’s thinking about human beings, and he’s creating a corrosive, socially dividing cancer in the country that’s not worth the economics.”

But where Mooch nailed it was in saying that Trump is “actually worse than a racist. He is so narcissistic, he doesn't see people as people. He sees them as objects in his field of vision. And so therefore, that's why he has no empathy."

So while Trump’s actions are indeed racist, he is far worse than merely being the one who supports and emboldens racists. Trump is a living, breathing cartoon villain, incapable of empathy or any other human emotion. He merely manipulates those who have those qualities and are easiest to manipulate.

He does this by appealing to your pain and fear. You don’t have a job? It’s the dirty immigrants. Crime? That’s “those people.” A diminishing return on the American dream? Fear. Fear the future. Turn it back to a time when all was hunky dory.

Praying to fear, bigotry and the worst of humanity is Trump’s staple. It’s his diet. His life. Trump cannot embolden us by appealing to the best of us. He cannot build. He can only tear down. That’s the cornerstone of every fraud he’s perpetrated on the American populace.

But I lay odds he cannot ultimately succeed in turning back progress. The American dream is the human dream. The ideals of the American Revolution cannot be destroyed by one narcissist. It merely takes a few more like Scaramucci in positions of power and wealth to see it and say something about it: The Trump has no clothes.

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