Are the walls closing in on Donald Trump?
It’s taken far too long and there is still a way to go, but for the first time since he became President, there’s a distinct feeling that the walls are closing in on Donald Trump.
Not only is he continuing to make — as Yogi Berra would say — too many wrong mistakes, but he is demonstrably misjudging the moment and unable to read the mood of the nation.
He continues to alienate himself from his people and America from the rest of the world. Far from being revered, he’s laughed at, ridiculed and mocked. He lies so much — over 18,000 false or misleading claims since taking office — few believe anything he says.
Day after day, he persists in stoking division with his rhetoric, his tweets and his actions. Actions that are having a devastating effect on America.
Since being impeached in December 2019, he has presided over the worst health crisis in his nation’s history — for which he continues to take no responsibility whatsoever.
And now with 42 million Americans out of work, millions relying on food banks and the worst civil unrest since 1968, all he can do is threaten more violence against his own people — ‘dominate’ was the word he used — and build a fence around the White House.
There is, however, a sense things are changing, that the tectonic plates of his presidency may be starting to shift. Alongside plunging poll numbers — and nearly two-thirds of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s reaction in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder —a sign of how rapidly the political terrain has shifted is that more and more people are beginning to speak out.
And it’s not just an inflection point with his critics, the press he continually vilifies as the fake news or the lamestream media or his political opponents that he treats with such disdain. George Floyd’s murder — or rather what it has led to — has triggered an enormous protest movement, a national outrage that has given voice to many who were previously silent.
It has resulted in an unprecedented wave of criticism aimed directly at the President, including those from his own administration, from governors, from the clergy, by Twitter itself and, perhaps for the first time, public denouncements from a handful of high profile Republican Senators.
Trump’s threats to use the military to break up protests and his actual use of force to clear peaceful protests in Lafayette Square, Washington DC, has also to a torrent of criticism from from former military leaders, including multiple defence secretaries and chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff. The loudest came from his former defence secretary, General James Mattis, who in an extraordinary opprobrium, backed the protesters and said the president was trying to turn Americans against one another, even denouncing him as “a threat to the Constitution.”
Even newspapers are beginning to ramp up their condemnation, none more so than Maine’s Portland Press Herald, whose Editorial Board (on 5 Jun 2020) had these damning words to say:
Our View: To President Trump: You should resign now
He lacks the character, maturity and judgement to lead the country in a perilous time
President Trump: We’re sorry that you decided to come to Maine, but since you are here, could you do us a favour? Resign.
You have never been a good president, but today your shortcomings are unleashing historic levels of suffering on the American people.
Your slow response to the coronavirus pandemic has spun a manageable crisis into the worst public health emergency since 1918.
We are also in the middle of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. There is no national strategy to recover from the shock that is disproportionately affecting people who were already struggling to make it.
And in the face of the worst civic unrest since 1968, with millions of Americans in the streets protesting systemic racism, you fan the flames.
In just the last week you gleefully tweeted about shooting fellow citizens; you goaded governors into escalating violent situations so they don’t “look like jerks;” and you authorised the use of rubber bullets and tear gas to clear peaceful protesters out of a public space so you could pose for a Bible-waving photo-op.
These are just a few examples of why you lack the character, maturity and judgement to lead our country in this perilous time. You should resign.
On the same day, just steps away from the White House, city workers took giant rolling paintbrushes to 16th street in Washington DC to create a message the city’s African American mayor wanted to send to Donald Trump: “Black Lives Matter”. As well as her provocative paint job, she went on to name the street Black Lives Matter Plaza, to formally mark the mural, and even erected a new street sign.
In the midst of the protests gripping America, mayor Muriel Bowser has emerged as another high-profile opponent of the president.
And Mayor Bowser was not the only city leader weighing in. On 11 June 2020 Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan had this to say:
”He shows a complete lack of understanding as why people are on the streets. They’re on the streets fighting a system of domination and he doesn’t understand that. His response is always bellicose and militaristic.”
”I think he totally doesn’t understand what is happening in America and he’s desperately trying to start the old fights and the old divisions that put him in power in the first place.”
Up until now, Teflon Don has managed to remain untouchable no matter what, but his increasingly maniacal behaviour coupled with his cognitive decline, are making more and more people question his fitness for office and fear for the future of America under his continued leadership.
History shows, time and time again, that whenever he’s aggrieved his first instinct is to lash out, to act without thinking and almost always, to do something egregious.
And there’s no doubt he is becoming increasingly unhinged, to the point where nothing — however insane — seems beyond him.
In his memorable closing statement at Trump’s impeachment trial, Adam Schiff concluded with these prescient words:
“And you know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months.”
There is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, especially if it’s fighting for its very survival.
As more and more people speak up, the voices against Trump will continue to get louder. And if we know anything about this President, it’s he does not do conciliation. With Donald Trump, it’s divide and conquer, I’m right, you’re wrong, my way or the highway.
At this moment, it feels like we’ve come to a fork in the road. The question is: has the Trump presidency come to the end of the road?
Or, are we on the highway to hell?
About the author: Based in Sussex-by-the-Sea, on England’s south coast, Gary is a creative writer and image-maker. He specialises in out of the ordinary portraits of musicians and people with interesting faces, as well as photographing some of the world’s best flowers and gardens.