Since starting publishing this blog in late 2013, I’ve periodically conducted a “sense-check” to determine if the premise of the blog is still relevant. Admittedly it is hard to be objective about what one writes. What I have tried to do, however, is support the claims with empirical evidence or strong anecdotal evidence. While I’m certain there are readers who disagree with some or even many of the observations, readers should at least be comforted that the opinions and comments are not created out of thin air.
In addition, my attempt in the blog to have a “balanced approach” for assessing events or behavior does not mean that “both sides” get an equal amount of ink. Spurious, unsubstantiated claims – alternative facts and “real” fake news – do not deserve equal time. Just because someone makes a statement does not make the statement credible, including statements made by the president, the WH press secretary and/or officials of the administration…and some talking heads on cable channels.
With that introduction, do events in 2017 reinforce or diminish the premise of this blog – the US will experience a 5th revolution, aka the Revenge Revolution sometime after 2020? Unfortunately, the premise seems more appropriate than ever. The list is long of statements and/or actions by the president, the administration and/or Congress that would seem to contribute to a potential revolution. The list continued to grow throughout the year. Some examples include:
Repeated Lying by Trump. While during a presidential campaign candidates can be given some license on the truth, once in office a president is expected to be honest when speaking to American citizens and other countries, especially to critical allies. Trump seems to have overlooked the transition from campaign to governing. The lying continued from day one. Whereas the first major lie did not affect national security or another critical issue, it did set the tone for the presidency. The lie demonstrated the Trump Administration was prepared to insult the intelligence of the public on even the most basic items. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Trump claimed the crowd at the inaugural was the largest in history. C’mon, Donald, please, don’t waste your credibility on such meaningless matters, especially when the evidence is overwhelmingly against you.
The lying continued throughout the year. Several real media outlets counted the lies and estimated that Trump lied in public statements at least five (5) times per day. The lies were often repeated by the WH press secretary and/or administration officials. The list of lies?
Trump is not the first president to misstate facts. However, other than Nixon, lies from modern-day presidents have been limited and often associated with such critical issues as national security.
The result of these lies? Fewer and fewer people believe what Trump says. If the consequences of the lying weren’t so significant, the lies by Trump and the then lies repeated by press secretary Sarah Huckabee would make great comedy.
Insulting Allies. Bullies eventually learn, in an often painful way, that at some point, they need other people. Trump’s behavior of continued bullying and insulting leaders of key American allies has tarnished long-standing working relationships. Trump has made the insults worse by openly courting a long-standing enemy, Russia.
During the inevitable next international crisis that requires multi-nation support, as long as Trump is president…and possibly for many years thereafter…the US might find the list of nations willing to help to be very short. A present day example is North Korea. China has been unwillingness to halt shipments of oil and other critical items to North Korea.
Claiming Emperor’s Powers. OK, we’ll cut Trump some slack. All presidents grow in the job. Plus, Trump has never held an elected office. Think about when your own career included a major job change. Virtually all of us made some mistakes early on in the new job.
But, Trump is now 11+ months into the job and does not yet seem to grasp the fundamentals. He should at least have an 8th grader’s understanding of how government works. Based on his comments, one wonders if he’s ever read the Constitution, let alone try to understand it. If Trump does understand the Constitution, why in late 2017 he proclaimed in an interview with The New York Times, “I have [the] absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.” Pardon me Donald, the president gets to nominate a candidate to head DOJ but the Senate must approve. Plus, in case you don’t understand, the president does not control investigations conducted by DOJ. Trying to do so is called “obstruction of justice”…and grounds for impeachment. If there are any questions, at least watch “All the President’s Men.”
Trump’s claim about controlling DOJ implies that he views the job as president to be no different from running a family business. In the family business, the Donald can state, “You do what I say or you’re fired.” In the Trump family business no one dares challenge the emperor.
I make the emperor analogy based on experience. My career has included working directly for or very closely with: (i) several CEO’s of what was the world’s largest company; (ii) former CEO of a very large international company. The CEO was considered worldwide to be one of the best CEO’s of the 20th Century; (iii) CEO of a moderately large family-owned manufacturing and distribution business.
The impact on the organization of the CEO’s behavior was stark and consistent. The culture of the organization was influenced greatly by the behavior of the CEO, even the culture of the very largest organization. When the CEO was open, honest and encouraged objective assessments, the organization flourished and endured crises effectively. When the CEO was more dictatorial and closed to criticism, the staff of the organization became disheartened, less cooperative and within a few years at most the organization began suffering financially.
Critics of my claims about the impact of behavior can rightfully argue the sample size is small. Agreed. But the phenomenon I experienced exists not only in organizations, but in personal relationships. Ask yourself, who are you more willing to be around – someone who is open, honest and willing to listen…or someone who is dictatorial, lies and unwilling to share? Not a very hard choice, huh?
Disdain for Education, Science and the (Real) Media. Possibly what I find most disturbing about Trump and his ilk and what could become the tipping point for the Revenge Revolution is disdain for pillars that help sustain a democracy: (i) an educated public; (ii) recognition of the value of science; (iii) healthy independent media. Without these pillars, a vibrant democracy can slide into a sham democracy. I find the disdain by Trump and his supporters for these pillars so insulting that I can think of only one word that properly describes them – I’ll be polite and not print it.
The lack of appreciation for the value of education directly affects many other views held by Trumpsters. One is denial of the sciences. What is startling is claiming that global warming is a hoax and the earth’s warming has not been accelerated by the industrial revolution. Another is continuing to promote economic policies that have been disproven repeatedly and for which there is strong empirical evidence indicating the policies do not work. A perfect example is the so-call tax reform act passed in late 2017. There is no empirical evidence supporting the benefits made by Republicans — plus, weren’t Trump and Republicans opposed to deficits during the Obama Administration? There are many other examples.
The right-wing of the Republican Party, with support from Trump, has made an effort to discount the value of education. According to Trumpsters, we as a society need to reduce the influence of people from “elite institutions,” whether those people work in government, in academia, on Wall Street or in certain private organizations. Trumpsters claim the “elite” colleges and universities are too liberal — in fact, most academic institutions are too liberal. The only solution to this “education problem,” therefore, is to privatize education, especially primary and secondary education. In addition, achieving an advanced education should be more difficult. Translated that means dumbing down society at a time when the world is attempting to provide more education to its citizens.
Look, I understand all organizations need to be tweaked periodically. But the approach of the Trump Administration, whether toward education, health care, seeming all government functions except the military (which needs the most fixing), is to break the organization, not try to fix it, with special emphasis on privatizing. In case Trump supporters haven’t considered the following, they should. The primary allegiance of a for-profit educational institution is not to the students – your children or grandchildren – but to the shareholders. The same allegiance formula holds true for companies involved in health care and any other function currently performed by the government.
While people who continue to support Trump do not seem to understand reality, fortunately the percentage of the population supporting Trump is shrinking. As of this writing, Trump has a major accomplishment — the lowest approval rating…by far…of any president at this stage in his term – 35%.
Bizarre Behavior. Allow me one more item that seems to make the Revenge Revolution likely – Trump’s mental state. An increasing number of professional (as opposed to political) psychiatrists is expressing concern about Trump’s mental state. As is the case with many issues for Trump supporters, the counter to any claim implicating Trump is “You’re speculating. Show me the data to prove it.” (Gee, if that same standard only applied to claims by Trump supporters as justification for the 2017 tax plan or as justification for investigating Clinton.)
Well Trump supporters, consider the value of predictions versus only acting when you have hard data. Next time you’re driving and someone cuts in front of you or runs a red light, don’t brake or swerve. Since predictions are not worth considering, maintain your speed and course. When you crash into the other car, then you will have the data you want. An extreme example? Maybe so but I hope the point is clear.
To say Trump’s statements are coherent or consistent truly stretches the imagination. Forget Trump’s narcissism. Unfortunately and tragically, the Trump family has a history of mental disorders. Don’t believe me? Read the obituaries of his father, Fred Trump, and his brother.
Wrap Up. OK, I agree this sense check is too lengthy. However, events in 2017 reinforced the premise that a Revenge Revolution in the US is possible…sometime after 2020. If you disagree, please let me know and why. As far as 2018, I am hopeful that we as a nation can reduce the likelihood of the Revenge Revolution. As I’ve said periodically in this blog, I hope the prediction about a Revenge Revolution is wrong. So far, I’m not optimistic. Thanks for your time.