Donald Trump is a deeply stupid man. That he has been able to convince many in the media that he is a smart businessman says much about them, and nothing about him. His number of bankruptcies speaks for itself. So does the fact that if he had merely invested his inheritance in index funds, he’d be wealthier today than he currently is.
That Trump has become president also says little about him, and much about the media. It also says much about our broken electoral system, our even more disastrously shattered education system, and the ease with which a hostile foreign despot was able to take control of a historically corrupt political party and use unregulated social media to manipulate tens of millions of largely illiterate bigots into voting against their own self-interest.
The one skill the largely illiterate Trump has mastered is how to use his inherited wealth and intersectional privilege to bully those who didn’t inherit such undeserved, unearned good fortune. He abuses women. He attacks minorities. He stiffs his creditors. He rails even at his own sycophants. And when he doesn’t get his way, he throws tantrums. Perhaps the world would be a better place right now if those around Trump had kept their pockets stocked with binkies.
The idea of a border wall never was a serious idea. It was actually a stranger-than-fiction mnemonic trick designed by his genius staff to help him remember one of his supposed core ideas during campaign rallies. Because he really is that stupid, and because the inherent racism of the concept must have been viscerally appealing to Trump. But after an electoral drubbing last November that only he didn’t see coming and with the many investigations into his many crimes closing in on him and his family, Trump last December was seething (and perhaps flinging his diapers around the Oval Office) when someone realized that the best way to calm him down, and spare the White House maintenance crew from excessive scouring and repair work, was to find another way for him to hurt people and try to bully his way to self-pacification. Hence: the government shutdown.
Donald Trump owns the shutdown. He wanted it. He said he’d do it, and he said he wouldn’t blame the Democrats.
I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. pic.twitter.com/IHI7JvePnI
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) December 29, 2018
So, he did it, and then blamed the Democrats. Because turning one of the most iconic statements about presidential responsibility upside down, Trump accepts responsibility for nothing. The buck always stops somewhere else. And of course when something good happens, large or small, he falsely claims credit, because lying is as basic to his existence as breathing. His entire life is a lie, from pretending to be a smart businessman (because his daddy left him a fortune to squander) to his psychologically defining need to exaggerate the size of his hands.
The shutdown is a power play, nothing more. Trump claims there’s a crisis at the border, which is, of course, yet another lie. But even if he believed it, his medieval wall (which is really a mnemonic device) wouldn’t work, anyway. That is one of many reasons why those members of Congress who understand the border best uniformly oppose it.
Every single border member of congress — myself included — opposes the wall. Every. Single. One. https://t.co/TTtciZpZLc
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) January 20, 2019
But if the wall wouldn’t protect anyone’s security, Trump’s shutdown is undermining border security and national security and domestic security and the economy—and it is devastating people’s lives. Trump’s falsely manufactured crisis is creating real crises, and he doesn’t care. But as always with Trump, it’s also providing him with another opportunity to grift. That may be the only thing he really cares about, anyway (not to mention making a certain hostile foreign despot very, very happy). And that might be the real bottom line.
Democrats have stood firm against this attempted extortion. They see it for what it is.
Understand this: if Trump gets away with shutting down the government to get what he wants, he will do this again going forward. He *will* continue to hold workers hostage to his demands. -NP#TrumpShutdown
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) January 23, 2019
The modern Republican Party has shattered every norm of democratic governance. The shutdown is an attack on the republic itself. It is an attack on government by the people. It as an attempt to enforce authoritarian rule against the will of the people.
In recent years, shutdowns have become standard Republican Party operating procedure, although they still haven’t figured out that they won’t work. And in Donald Trump, Republicans have found their apotheosis. He’s a liar and a bully and a bigot and a sadist, and they’re terrified of crossing him. He is a clear and present danger to the United States, and everything he does must be seen in that context.
Every example of the Republican Party’s obedient enabling of Trump also must be seen in that context. Trump’s desperate attempt to extort his wall is a monument to everything the modern Republican Party has become. And by opposing it, Democrats not only are standing against crazed Republican extremism. They are also standing for the very possibility of the United States continuing to be able to aspire toward its greatest ideals.