Viewpoint: Trump, a would-be dictator, unfit as president

Karen Rubin
Karen Rubin, Columnist

The 2020 election in a nutshell is about good vs. evil, democracy vs. autocracy, competence vs. corruption, compassion vs. cruelty.

It’s hard to recall all the heinous acts President Trump has committed throughout his occupation of the Oval Office – just about three times each day, each one an outrage that drowns out the prior one, each one sufficient to have brought down any other president. They range from crimes against humanity to delighting how U.S. Marshals killed a suspect as “retribution,” calling for border agents to shoot asylum-seekers, to conflicts of interest and crimes that would land anyone else in prison.

One can only imagine if President Obama had threatened governors that unless they pay homage, he would withhold essential disaster aid or assistance to combat the coronavirus pandemic.  Or tweeted to “Liberate Michigan” to undermine that governor’s attempt to protect her citizens from a lethal pandemic, giving succor and encouragement, even aiding and abetting domestic terrorists/White Supremacists/Neo-Nazis, or sent federal troops to quell peaceful protests?

Imagine a president, who is presumably briefed by Exceptional America’s cracker jack intelligence on domestic threats, actually claiming he does not know about QAnon or the Proud Boys or David Dukes and the KKK (because they support him) and harangues Michigan’s governor instead of those arrested for plotting to kidnap and kill her. Or who ignored intelligence about a lethal virus coming from Europe and bounties paid by Russia’s Putin to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Just imagine.

Or imagine if Hillary Clinton had withheld crucial military aid unless and until that leader did her a favor and announced prosecution of her political rival or had her attorney general keep friends out of prison but called to “lock up” opponentsmor if literally everyone around the campaign and the administration were charged with criminal activity, a swamp of tsunami proportions.

Or imagine if a president solicited foreign adversaries to meddle in our supposedly free and fair elections, refused to accept the outcome unless he won, charged wholesale voter fraud over mail-in-ballots (while undermining the U.S. Postal Service), at the same time recruiting armed thugs to intimidate voters already risking their health to vote in person, calling for Republican legislators to send their own electors to the Electoral College, and summoning the Supreme Court to discount ballots. Just imagine.

It’s hard to fully list (or even keep track), but there is hardly an aspect of life that Trump has not harmed, destroyed, undermined: health care, environmental protections, climate action, gun safety, voting rights, women’s rights, civil rights, trade, alliances and treaties ( ad nauseum).

His obsession with propping up the economy (Wall Street, that is) in order to seize electoral victory caused him to ignore and deceive the nation after he was told about how lethal and transmissible the coronavirus was; his deliberate acts to sabotage public health have resulted in more than 215,000 deaths (some 150,000 who likely would not have died) and 8 million who have been infected – at least 2 million who likely have become really sick and may have long-term health issues, as he maneuvers to have the Supreme Court overturn the Affordable Care Act, altogether.

Trump is not just ignorant, inept in addition to being corrupt, he is also incredibly lazy so he doesn’t bother doing the work to actually come up with solutions or address complex issues. That’s what’s behind his “herd immunity” approach to Covid-19 and to say that the virus will simply “magically” disappear – so what if 2 to 6 million die out of 200 million who sicken or if there is no such thing as “immunity” at all.

Trump hasn’t just smashed “norms” and “precedents” but violated law and undermined the most fundamental institutions buttressing our democracy and civil society, trashing FBI, CIA, CDC, FDA, DoJ, EPA, HHS, State, HUD, Education, a free press, checks and balances, separation of powers, while dismissing the oversight powers of Congress and now the very notion of a free and fair election. And oh, yes, the ultimate, the demoralization of the Supreme Court.

The New York Times’ expose of his financial dealings, including paying zero or $750 in federal tax and, even more troubling, the $400 million in personal loans coming due that raises conflict-of-interest questions (he wouldn’t qualify for a job in the federal government), came out only weeks ago.  But it is already forgotten, pushed out of mind by his campaigning as “superman” or the messiah sent by God, and don’t worry about getting coronavirus, it’s really not that bad at all.

It’s hard to recall all the disgusting offenses.  Here’s a partial list to jog your memory: Muslim Ban; Kids in Cages, Family Separation; Extorting foreign governments for personal and political gain; Undermining alliances; Profiting off presidency; Accepting payments of money and services from foreign governments and domestic kiss-uppers seeking his favor;

Violating congressional oversight and separation of powers in diverting funding allocated by Congress in the budget; refusing to disclose tax returns and financial conflicts; Obstructing justice, Witness intimidation, Abusing pardon power; Politicizing intelligence, national security, military, Justice; Endangering public lands, national parks, while overturning environmental regulations;

Withholding federal spending, disaster aid, infrastructure spending to those he considers “opponents;” steering Covid aid, relief to cronies; Installing corrupt, inept cronies in high office;

Triggering new nuclear arms race, militarizing outer space; Abandoning Syrian Kurds to Turkish massacre; Unleashing North Korea to continue its nuclear program; Forcing Iran to resume its nuclear program and provoking military conflict; Pushing an “America First” policy that is actually “America Alone” and turning the USA into a pariah state.

Look around at Trump’s America: civil unrest from coast to coast, wildfires of unprecedented proportion consuming the West as hurricanes ravage the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, 1,000 people dying a day of coronavirus, 8 million more in poverty. One by one, he is taking up all the benchmarks of a dictator, including extra-judicial killing.

To the question famously asked in every presidential campaign, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” I would add “How has America been made greater under Trump?” and, most crucially, “Who do you trust more to end this pandemic, rebuild the economy and move America back toward justice for all?”

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Karen Rubin

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