U.S. Politics

President Trump: A colossal failure for democracy, and our terrifying new reality

President Trump: A colossal failure for democracy, and our terrifying new reality

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

SALON

It’s impossible to overstate how colossal a fuck-up this is. At every level, across both parties, the media, pollsters — all the democratic institutions that are supposed to prevent something like this from happening, or at least warn us about it. Donald Trump, a candidate who ran an openly racist campaign, who is as proud a misogynist as you’ll find anywhere, who is manifestly ignorant of public policy, who is brusquely authoritarian, who has little respect or understanding of democratic norms, and who embodies every moral failing that’s supposed to disqualify a candidate from higher office, has apparently been elected the next president of the United States.

The markets are collapsing, the globe is reeling, and nobody can quite explain what the hell happened. But here’s what this failure will mean. The climate, which is warming precipitously, is now guaranteed to continue along that trajectory toward global catastrophe. The millions of people who gained health coverage over the last half decade are now at acute risk of being thrown off their insurance and left to the unfeeling mercies of health underwriters. Income inequality, already at dangerously high levels, will only grow worse as tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor are pushed through the Republican Congress. Unprecedented GOP obstructionism on Supreme Court nominees has been rewarded in the worst possible way. And the foreign policy of the United States will be run by a bona fide ignoramus.

The man elected to the most powerful office in the land has no idea what to do with it and no concept of its limitations. He attracts the worst people to him, sycophants and power-hungry strivers who will be placed in positions of authority and who will obey the boss’ diktat above anything else. Every democratic norm he gleefully shredded along the way is gone for good. Every thumb in the eye of transparency will now be official policy.

All that terrifies me.

But right now those things are not what I think about when I contemplate life under President Donald Trump. This will sound trite, but primarily I think about my two boys, a two-year-old and a four-month-old. I don’t have to explain this to them because neither would understand. But if I were to tell my two-year-old what is happening, I’d do it in Spanish, because both he and his brother have deep Mexican roots that my wife and I want them to embrace and be proud of. It destroys me to know that they, that we, live in a country that seems to have chosen as its leader a person who made frenzied racial attacks on my family’s heritage the launch pad for his successful presidential run.

I think about the African-Americans, Muslims, Jews, and Latinos in this country who now face life in a country presided over by a candidate who embodies white nationalism and memorably couldn’t bring himself to disavow a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Children of undocumented immigrants who are U.S. citizens by birth have been told by their new president that they’ll be deported. Every refugee from Syria who was relocated here to escape war and violence will have another target on their backs. These are the people who will feel the consequences of this failure most acutely.

I have one more thing to add.

I am sorry. In my capacity as a media figure, I too often treated Trump as a joke, a bumbling incompetent, someone who obviously could not be treated seriously as a legitimate candidate for the presidency. Now I can only think that I was too hidebound by conventional wisdom, too comfortably out of touch to see what was in front of me. I succumbed to the sideshow element of this awful race more times than I can be comfortable with. I own this failure too.

Simon Maloy

2 thoughts on “President Trump: A colossal failure for democracy, and our terrifying new reality

  1. As this election shows, you cannot have an effective democracy without an educated voting public. Trump and the GOP have counted on (and succeeded) appealing too the most ignorant and least educated portions of the electorate, And their strategy worked.
    A campaign run, from day one, on lies and deceit.
    His lifelong experience as a conman paid off. Just as he does not pay his taxes and his contractors, he will now screw the very people who voted for him. You asked for it. Own it.
    You think Trump is going to help you because your are “white”? LOL

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  2. “The millions of people who gained health coverage over the last half decade”

    Health insurance ? Huh? Have you looked at bronze and copper plans ? $12,000 deductible and after that only 50% costs covered. You call that health insurance ? One is better off not paying for any insurance, go to the emergency room and stiff the bill. And more insane one is fined if he does not buy this worthless coverage. That alone gives health care by economic class which is discriminatory. I do believe there should be one plan, complete coverage for all. It is also unfortunate that you have bought into the conclusion that he is racist. Hillary was successful in selling that bunk . All will be helped by job creation alone which lifts all boats of all people. Trump recognizes the economic plight of all who suffer from job exportation and exploitation by the megabanks and megacorps. So he does understand and will help the class that Jessie Jackson called “the people that take the bus to work”. White working class males are the most discriminated against sub group in this country and among the least empowered. It is also PC correct to bash them as well. Who really are the racists ? In Miami Dade County which is 80% minority and 54% foreign born a while male natural born person cannot get a job. Jobs are closed to them.

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