While driving Electra yesterday, I listened to one of Neil Young’s albums called Living with War, that was a quickly produced, bluntly voiced compilation of protest songs produced during the Bush administration. Its focus was on Bush’s false rationale for going to war against Iraq. I listened to “Let’s Impeach the President” and skipped through some subsequent songs to hear “Roger and Out,” a song about a man who signed up for the draft with his buddy after traveling down what they called the old hippie highway. He speculated about how his friend felt as he died in combat and he said his good byes. The simplicity of Young’s songs is what gave them power. They expressed clearly, on a gut level, why so many Americans opposed the war and President Bush.
As I neared home, I cranked up the volume and lost it for a moment, shouting a request for God to make an unfavorable judgment regarding the disposition of Trump’s soul. Agnostics, atheists, and Buddhists should develop their own set of powerful invocations since the Christian epithets are nonsensical because nonbelievers don’t believe in God or in hell. Buddhist, for example, could say, “may you never forget for a moment that you are suffering in this life and may you never obtain Nirvana no matter how many times you return as a lowly but respected insect,” but the length of that insult reduces its potency, and Buddhists should recognize that even Trump struggles to make sense of his own existence. I’ll save the task of creating alternate curses for another day because after being slightly embarrassed in my car, I wondered why I was so angry. What makes Trump so much worse than Bush, who I thought was a really bad president.
Bush was a poor leader and decision-maker, but he saw himself as a part of a larger government. He respected the Constitution, and though misguided and inept, he gave us some sense of security knowing that the rest of the government would weigh in on how he felt the country should be governed. Ironically, in a recent interview with Matt Lauer, Bush was the voice of reason when speaking about immigration, the free press, and presidential power. You never know. Bush was quiet during Obama’s presidency and is speaking out during Trump’s. A 180 turn in the right direction.
I opposed the ideology of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, and others who rushed us into Iraq, making the decision to go to war on slim evidence and failing to be pragmatic about what to do afterwards. Can you imagine what we could have done with those trillions of dollars had they been spent wisely and the lost lives been used productively? Our army succeeded in killing hundreds of thousands of Iraq soldiers, but the administration opposed nation building, so after devastating the infrastructure of Iraq, the US declared victory and said “we’re done.” Chaos ensued. Black and white thinking and failure to adapt to changing circumstances characterized the Bush administration. Bush angered me because of his ineptitude and close-mindedness. I never thought he was a bad person, just an arrogant one.
Trump, on the other hand, is a “bad person.” He angers me for different reasons. First, he is a bully. Once you know that someone is a bully, there is nothing to be said to redeem him or her. The person has to change before my attitude will. Second, Trump is pursuing policies that will hurt my friends, the environment, and people from other countries. These unfair policies are created to enrich people who already have enough money. I get angry when I see injustices like this. Third, he is a self-centered liar. Even Bush, when the weapons of mass destruction were not found, admitted it. Trump would say Obama removed the WMD, the press created fake news, or the weapons are really there. Fourth, Trump has no interest in working as a part of the national government. He is actually destroying the foundations of our democracy by questioning the voting process in elections, appointing people to his cabinet who seek to undermine the departments they lead, and trying to limit the free press. Fifth, his prejudices, while born largely out of ignorance, are combined with recklessness and insensitivities, and are thus dangerous. We know his response to a crisis won’t involve listening, weighing the evidence, understanding how the opposition thinks, or being strategic. Instead, he will consider the impact the crisis will have on his ego. His thin skin provides little insulation in a heated environment. Lastly, he is making me and others waste an enormous amount of time. It is hard enough just to keep up with his antics. Imagine what we could be doing if we were trying to make things better rather than preventing Trump from making things worse.
Most Republicans do not want to admit that Trump represents a greater danger to our country than terrorists. While Bush did some deplorable things and advocated for policies that were harmful, he understood his role as president, realizing that we are, first and foremost, a nation of laws, not a nation run by people. Trump is dangerous because he has no second thoughts about breaking rules. He thinks he is above the law. He’s not trying to preserve the Constitution or improve government, he is trying to enhance his personal power. In his mind, his authority has no limits. His staff includes people who hold a depressing vision of America which may became a self-fulfilling prophecy if we don’t do everything we can to remind him that he is subject to the same laws as everyone else.
So I am angry. I don’t like to be angry. You should be angry too. Trump is stealing our democracy from us. We have to use our system of laws to stop him. Long term, we must start locally to rebuild a new Democratic party. Short term, we must challenge Trump and his policies, and make sure that the truth is told and is heard by our neighbors.