Donald Trump is working hard to establish his place in history.
He appears to be aiming for an unforgettable model of inadequate leadership and governance, and bad personal conduct, ethics and morality.
As he fumbles and stumbles and barges his way through his primitive interpretation of the role of president of the United States, he is stirring once complacent women and men of goodwill. One by one, they step aside from their daily round — sometimes reluctantly — to deliberately signal their rejection of his crude and contradictory pronouncements.
Trump is not a mirage. He is a human being, flawed and imperfect like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, however, he is invested with the trappings of one of the most politically powerful offices in the early 21st century.
While he has enormous potential powers in the material world, he is tossing away the moral and ethical sway not only of the presidency, but of the United States. As he does so, he jars us from personal preoccupations. We are compelled to realize that we, incomplete beings though we are, must all participate to the best of our abilities, in helping to rescue and rehabilitate our species – and every other living thing on the planet – from forces in the world that now are amplified by the actions of the American president and the group of dysfunctional political players around him.
For we must not forget one thing: Trump is not alone. He did not arrive in the position of the U.S. presidency by himself. He was inserted by a motley collection of dissatisfied voters, but mostly by a corrupted, plutocratic political system that has strayed so far from its historic democratic origins as to be nearly unrecognizable.
Misled by simplistic "America First" slogan
Today’s America is characterized by the gross and increasing unequal distribution of material wealth and opportunity among its citizens. It is shot through with the deep undercurrent of racism – most particularly against Black Americans. It is misled by the simplistic and destructive slogan of “America First” (with its obvious corollary: “Everyone Else Last”), which justifies and even ennobles widespread and often startling ignorance about the rest of the world.
American social discourse is also beset, probably more than in any other nation, by the forceful, insidious and near-ubiquitous influence of mega-corporations.
One of the key features of the Trump presidency, revealed in his response to the Charlottesville violence and murder, is the relentless emphasis on good (us) versus bad (them). This childish attachment to one’s own caste, and suspicion and denigration of others, goes against almost the entire corpus of modern science.
Trump repeatedly declaims the principle of us versus them, against the broad current of human understanding that our shared attributes hugely outweigh our differences.
At the most fundamental level, we humans share about 50 per cent of our DNA with bananas, 70 per cent with the humble earthworm, 96 per cent with chimpanzees, and 99.5 per cent with one another. In fact, one study showed that we share 99.9 per cent of our genetic heritage with one another.
There are seeds of greatness in all countries
Trump is a sadly inadequate president. But the nation he nominally leads is not a sadly inadequate nation.
It has within it the seeds of greatness.
It has citizens who are compassionate, brilliant, community-minded, thoughtful, graceful, polite and fully capable of working with others.
Every country in the world has people like that.
Some of those people are Black. Some of those people are Jews. Some of those people are Muslims. Some of those people are homeless. Some of those people are poor.
Some of those people are white.
And some of those people are wealthy and in positions of great political power.
I feel solidarity with my fellow human beings, who are white, Black, Indigenous, Jewish, Muslim, homeless, poor, wealthy and powerful. And I am committed to respecting and working with all the members of my family.
Donald Trump has helped me affirm that commitment.