THE DRUMPF FILES: Dictator In Training

(This is the first in a series of articles written in active resistance to President Donald J. Drumpf. Since his election I’ve felt like I need to do everything in my power to oppose his selfishness, bigotry and tyranny. I’ve signed many petitions, called and emailed my congresspeople, and all the rest…but it doesn’t feel like enough. What else can I do? I thought. Then it hit me: Duh. You’re a writer…write some stuff!! So here we go. I’ll follow this one with discussion of specific issues, profiles on cabinet members, etc….but for this first entry, I need to vent. So bear with me.)

Flabbergasted.

That’s how my wife and I felt on Election Night, and it’s how we’ve felt pretty much ever since. As we ate dinner that night, then tried without much success to focus on watching a little TV, every few minutes I’d refresh the New York Times page showing the election results on my smart phone…and we watched in horror as Drumpf’s lead grew, then grew some more. We went to bed before the race was officially called, but we knew the deal. And neither of us slept much at all. As unabashed Bernie Sanders supporters, our guy was already out of the running; we’re both proud to be bleeding-heart liberals…our hopes weren’t necessarily that the Democrat would win, but simple decency would.

Well, decency lost. And hate, narcissism, and nationalism – otherwise known as Donald Drumpf – won. In the weeks since the election, and now in his first few days of office, I and millions of others find it hard to believe that enough people thought he has any place at all being the leader of our country to vote for him. But apparently they do. And it’s a sad statement on what the ideology of our politics, and the mindset in general of many in our country, have become.

Listen: I’m not too knowledgeable about government policy, or the creation of it. (I’m learning fast, but rules/regulations, and the writing of them, have never been my strong suit.) One thing I am an expert on, though, is people. Mom was a psychologist, and I had a career as an actor (and now one as a writer), so I’m extraordinarily in tune with people’s motivations, their habits, and their behavior. So watching Donald Drumpf on the campaign trail and now as president, I and my people-watching expertise have come to a solid, undeniable conclusion:

Drumpf. Is. An. Asshole.

Whether you support him or not, I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear me say that, because in your heart of hearts, dear reader, you know it too. And what saddens me is that a lot of you are okay with him being such a dick. I was never a big Drumpf fan…but I instantly came to detest the man in November 2015, when I saw him openly mock a disabled reporter. He mimicked the guy’s arm movements and everything. (Oh, what’s that, Drumpf supporters? “He didn’t mock the guy – those physical movements are something he does a lot”? Fuck you. I know what I saw.) And the worst part of it is that despite that assholishness (and a loooong list of other instances of it), people still supported him. Unbelievable. Here’s what I think: some people were so ready for change, they voted for the furthest thing from a political figure they could. Or wait, let me be more specific: people, a lot of them white, had such a problem seeing a well-mannered, intelligent black man as president that they voted for the opposite, and elected an ill-mannered, thoughtless, privileged white man with no idea how to do the job. (Just throwing that out there.)

Maybe another reason Drumpf is now president has to do with a concept recently used by his advisor and partner in crime, Kellyanne “I Need to Eat a Sandwich at the Beach” Conway: “alternative facts.” But I think the ideal is broader than just simple facts. To me, it’s “selective truth.” I’ll explain: I recently saw a great interview with the political editor of a magazine (and I won’t say which magazine, so you don’t have the chance to pass instant judgement on the guy), in which he explained that the recent popularity of cable “news” stations – Fox News, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, and Fox News, etcetera – have allowed people to interchange opinion and fact. They decide which “news” channel fits their desired version of reality; in turn, the channel tailors its programming to fit that narrative, so people honestly believe that the info the channel broadcasts is absolute truth, when it is soooo not. And enough pussyfooting around: I’m staring right at you, Fox News. I believe you made your viewers believe that the U.S. was in such poor shape during Obama’s presidency (which holy shit, it was anything but!!!) that said viewers voted an idiot into office. It was clever, ingenious, and inherently disastrous.

Ahem. Anyway: now that Drumpf is president, things are getting nuts. The day after his inauguration, millions of people marched in protest. He’s been in office for seven days now, and his main concern seems to be his own popularity (or total lack thereof). “But wait!” you might be saying. “He’s actually getting things done!” Sure he is. But the “things” he’s doing completely oppose what the United States has stood for for so long. Freedom, right?

But here’s the thing: it’s Drumpf’s idea of freedom. And he tries to steamroll over anyone who doesn’t believe the same way he does. Abortions? Punish them. Immigrants? They don’t belong. Climate change? Hoax. But oil? More, more, more! It’s nationalist, self-serving, and despicable. And it’s un-American.

I believe that more than any other president in U.S. history, Donald J. Drumpf has the potential for changing our system of government from a democracy into a dictatorship. How? He wants to “Make Donald Drumpf Again,” right? That’s the problem. For one thing, America was never not great. (Though he and Fox News want you to believe otherwise.) And his solution for making America great “again” is him. Drumpf, and Drumpf alone will solve the country’s (perceived) problems. He’s said the country belongs to the people again, right? Only problem: it (supposedly) belongs to the people who voted for him, and not the people who oppose him. Division is the beginning.

But for more, let’s look at history itself. I recently saw another interview with a certain well-known and incredibly respected political commentator who has served under multiple presidents, and who appears regularly on those cable “news” stations I hate so much. (Again, not gonna say who it is so you can’t pass judgment – but trust me, the guy’s the real deal.) In the interview, he said that Drumpf is following the exact pattern of tyrants who’ve ruled their countries through fear and hate. And the first thing Drumpf’s doing, which exactly fits that pattern? He’s trying to control the press. He’s trying to shape public opinion of him to fit his own mold. Here’s how the guy laid it out:

1. Berate the media. Drumpf is trying to turn his followers against the media by calling them “scum,” “disgusting,” and “dishonest.” When he tells lies – claims of voter fraud, the size of his…inauguration crowd, etcetera – and the media call him on it, he says they can’t be trusted. And people believe him instead of the journalists.
2. Limit media access. Drumpf avoids press conferences, and blocks the media from access to what he’s doing. That way, his constituents remain in the dark about how he runs his office.
3. Threaten the media. Drumpf has threatened to sue multiple newspapers for libel over what he calls inaccurate reporting (which, in most cases, has turned out to be completely true). And here’s where it starts getting scary: Drumpf says he wants to “open up libel laws” and make it okay to legally sue media entities when they report something he doesn’t like.
4. Bypass the media. Drumpf is an expert at this. He tweets every day. He holds huge rallies. He’s able to carry his message to people with no filter. That may sound like a good thing, but it’s dangerous. It’s like the “selective truth” I was talking about: with no one to check him, Drumpf can deliver tainted info to people who absorb it as truth.

Throughout history, the media (at least the responsible media) has held politicians accountable by correcting their misstatements, asking difficult questions, and reporting on what they do. And according to the commentator in the interview, Drumpf wants to eliminate that accountability so he can further his own scary agenda. He’s on the way to becoming a tyrant. And it’s frightening.

The one good thing that Drumpf’s presidency has produced: it has brought millions of us together. People across the nation have joined in solidarity to resist his program of hypocrisy. For our part, my beautiful wife and I pray for our country – and all its people – on a regular basis. We pray that the homeless veterans, the working-class Christians, the gay CEOs, the politicians, and the president himself will live lives of respect, courage, and decency.

Decency. Courage. Respect. Three admirable traits of a good human being. Unfortunately, President Donald J. Drumpf has thus far shown that he has none of them.