Like many Americans, Barack Obama undoubtedly included, I wake up every day with fear in my heart about the upcoming Trump presidency. As stress management manuals tell us, one way to overcome that fear is to analyze its cause rationally by dissecting it into its composing parts, ranking them in order of importance, and finding ways to cope with each of them. In Trump’s case that is quite a pyramid to deal with. At the bottom I would put the almost certainty that Trump, in conjunction with his children, will abuse the presidency to enhance his business interests. This will potentially harm the US, but in most cases it will be visible and a possible ground for impeachment, although it is hard to imagine that the Republican majority in Congress would have enough of a moral backbone to come to that conclusion. Second comes the vulgarity of Trump’s behavior, both verbally and in writing. On a Sunday morning show I just heard his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, say that ‘when the president does it, it is presidential.’ It’s a new standard.
As irritating as Trump’s public communications are, and as much as they demean the US, there are higher layers in the pyramid. For me, next comes the racism and discrimination his presidency will generate. This has been a theme throughout Trump’s campaign, starting with the announcement of his candidacy, but now that he has won the Electoral College white supremacists feel emboldened to act out their prejudices, which has already resulted in numerous civil rights violations. Trump’s despicable attitude towards the press constitutes the next layer. The statement by his former campaign manager and current advisor, Cory Lewandowski, that the editor of the New York Times should be in jail for publishing some of Trump’s tax returns, sums it up. Trump’s constant attacks on the media threaten the freedom of the press and therefore the First Amendment. The final layer in my pyramid has to do with what goes on in Trump’s head, or rather, what is missing there: an awareness of culture, history and morality, and respect for the truth.
Except for skills that have enabled him to optimize the returns on a series of business scams and to license his name to anything tall and glitzy, Trump’s head is basically empty, and that explains why he can only function in a fact free environment. To operate anywhere outside the world of real estate transactions and golf courses he needs to recreate the playing field and set new rules, because he doesn’t know the existing ones.
This is already manifesting itself nationally and internationally. Traditionally politicians try to do at least some of the things they promised the voters, but Trump appears to have forgotten most of them. By accepting a phone call from the prime minister of Taiwan he wants to completely reset the relationship with China, ignoring decennia of diplomacy.
The dangers of having a president with an empty head are obvious. In DC, all the maniacs he puts in charge of departments can live out their dreams, and outside of the US many fires that have been put out will start burning again, because the Fire Chief has amnesia.