Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Patriot Games

Trump’s words and actions continue his march towards authoritarianism

President Trump has yet to see the distinction between running a family business empire and being president of the United States.  Whereas in the past he could call the shots, he has been frustrated by those pesky checks and balances, which are contained in our Constitution—a document I’m willing to bet he never completely read. #hocopolitics

Starting with a flood of executive orders (legal) at the outset of his presidency he has taken it upon himself to do things on his own.  As he has achieved some footing, his autocratic posture seems to be gaining, and he’s been using “patriotism,” “love of country,” and most recently “treason” to stomp on those with whom he disagrees.

These tactics are becoming alarming.  It was manifested this past fall when he bludgeoned NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem as a means to protest social inequality for African-Americans.  He twisted the protesters’ message to make it sound like they were criticizing the military, the flag and what-not.  Unfortunately, Trump seemed to have won that messaging battle, conflating the first amendment right to protest with sticking a finger in the eyes of our troops.   This has emboldened him to go all-out patriotic.

This past Monday, he derided Democratic lawmakers who attended the State of the Union Address for not cheering and clapping his Stephen Miller-written words.  At a speech in a plant outside Cincinnati where he was touting the economy that he produced and which the plunging stock market values were juxtaposed on television screens, Trump complained half jokingly but also half seriously that Democrats didn’t cheer like the Republicans did.

“They would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well," the president said of Democrats’ response to his speech last week. “They were like death. And un-American. Somebody said treasonous. I mean, yeah. I guess. Why not?” 

“Can we call that treason?” he asked the crowd. “Why not? They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

His frequent Kim Jong Un-ish self-applause seemed to have made up for the lack of Dems' enthusiasm.

Nonetheless, imagine if President Obama had called the Republicans treasonous when they sat in stone cold silence as he enumerated his vision for the country.  The Republican noise machine would go off the charts.

The White House said he was saying it “tongue and cheek.” But as the president, words matter.
To be responsible, “treason” should be used only when referring to a person “levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

His base may not understand the seriousness of the term, and it was unwise for the president to say it, displaying his ignorance, just for a few yucks from his cultist supporters in attendance.

Sadly, except for a few Democrats like Sen. Tammy Duckworth, the Dems were too silent on Trump’s accusations.  Where are they? The GOP was even more quiet except for Sen. Jeff Flake.

If that wasn’t enough, the Washington Post reported that Trump wants a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

To be clear, when countries put on such displays, it is mainly to show off to the world their military might, should there be any doubts.  The U.S. rarely has had to go through this garish exercise since the world already is aware of our military power.

But the need to feed Trump’s ego will probably be enough to appropriate funds for this costly spectacle.  I wouldn't be surprised if Trump invites “patriots” to march following the procession of military vehicles, armaments and matériel. Expect to see a few confederate flags to pop up held by some very fine people, maybe a swastika or two, perhaps a march with a goose step. 

That’s how it starts.

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