The first two weeks of the Trump Administration, malevolence has taken over the country. Darkness forged in cruelty and spite: American Carnage. We’re seeking to make sense of this. Trying to find order. Trying to spot patterns in random chaos and meaning in irrational rage. It’s maddening. It feels like a coke-induced psychosis – every minute brings new fears and insurmountable dread, news articles triggering a fight or flight response. Is there such a thing as paranoia anymore? “Are they coming after me next?” The word “dangerous” is caked on the lips of every measured public official on TV. There’s no escaping. There’s no resting. There’s no pause. If you are a civically minded American: It’s a constant barrage of bad and worse news.
In 10 days we’ve discovered it really does matter who’s in the White House. The whole “both sides do it” retort is dead, its head on a spike in the Oval Office. Trump has insulted every group of Americans save the white nationalists. He’s insulted every world leader save war criminals and his bestie dictator buddy Putin. Finally businesses are saying they’re concerned by the uncertainty of a conman operating on the largest scale imaginable. Mass demonstrations in places like Boise freaking Idaho and Salt Lake freaking City along with the coastal elites are now massive and daily. The president of the European Union actually called, for the first time ever, an American President a threat.
Here’s where I keep going as I’m watching this constitutional crisis unfold: Never attribute anything to conspiracy, coordination or planning when laziness could explain it. I call it the Theory of Relative Laziness.
(Yes, I could have come up with a better name…but…lazy.)
My column in 2013:
While perusing the weirder corners of the Internet the other day I stumbled upon the Flat Earth Society’s website. They believe—and claim to have plenty of evidence the world is not a sphere; it’s instead flat. Why? According to their site it’s because the world looks flat. The first question in their FAQs is, “Is this a joke?” The answer: “No.” What about the moon landing and space travel, they’re asked? It’s been faked.
What’s more lazy? Fifty years of an international conspiracy to commit massive (not to mention expensive) fraud to needlessly trick the world into believing our planet is shaped like a basketball? Or some dude looking at the ground beneath him and saying, “It looks flat.”
The laziness theory is not just a lack of planning; it’s an intellectual laziness. The conspiracy theory takes so little effort. The Alex Jones “I don’t need to know anything because everyone’s in on it and all evidence to the contrary is invalid.” It’s the easiest and quickest explanation free from rigors of examination, there’s a microwave version of history—and Trump is a connoisseur. “It looks flat.”
This explains all the simple answers and over simplified worldview. He’s either a simpleton or just too lazy for anything other than tweets. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.
Which is why when I see hot takes about this evil “plan” of Trump’s is unveiling and WE’RE TOO DISTRACTED TO SEE are falling short for me.
Think this through: The house always wins unless it’s owned by Trump. Why would anyone think a guy who went broke operating a casino would be able to pull off anything successfully? (That is without the help of the Kremlin.) Trump’s dad can’t bail him out of this one. He’s more likely to do something smart by accident than intention.
The first 72 hours of his administration were spent scandalized by the itty-bitty size of his teeny tiny crowd at his inauguration and his absurd denial. That wasn’t a goal. It makes him look like a moronic child. He then cast aspersions on HIS OWN LEGITIMACY as the leader of the free world by claiming there were millions of illegal votes in an election he won. There are reports that this is a real fear for Trump that he, like the beauty contestants he’s publicly abused, won’t be taken seriously. Calling into question the integrity of the vote in a razor thin election won on a technicality isn’t a part of a larger vision. It looks like a part of a larger mental illness. There was an effort to fix this by calling for an investigation into voter fraud, citing people registered in more than one state. And, of course, after some investigation it was found many of Trump’s aides and his own daughter Tiffany are all registered in more than one state.
That’s not a plan to take away voting rights. That’s a patch trying to cover lack of impulse control botched by whoever’s job it was to make sure the entire inner circle wasn’t guilty of what they’re accusing brown skinned Democrats of doing.
Trump doesn’t read, doesn’t study and isn’t going to start. Even the human-shaped carcinoma and Donny Svengali Steve Bannon can’t trust Trump to not botch anything he’s hoping to do. We have President Loki. He brings chaos not a “new order” that Bannon portends.
Evil requires better planning to be pulled off. It also requires participation.
Trump’s indiscriminate anarchy can be and is being countered.
The weakness with anarchists is they can’t build coalitions. (See everything I’ve written about Occupy.) And even if we’re now officially dubbed a “flawed democracy,” not even an illiterate canker sore like Trump can govern without consent.
The Muslim ban debacle went really poorly for the White House because of this laziness. It’s been pretty clear the order about extreme vetting…wasn’t vetted. So instead of looking like a resolute leader keeping his people safe, Trump looks like a racist plunder puppet that can’t get his lackeys on message to not refer to it as a Muslim ban (which is unconstitutional and unconscionable and an apt description of this EO). When tumult broke out at America’s airports—toddlers handcuffed—unbelievably brave Iraqi interpreters detained—children separated from their parents, it could have been a time to try and smooth things out. Instead Trump said it working out very nicely.
But it wasn’t. And the flunky white supremacists in the White House couldn’t see it. Instead they just galvanized more citizens to join the opposition. Trump may not care about the international condemnation but members of his own party have rebuked him and those are the only people keeping him in power. That’s not planning. That’s just abject stupidity and arrogance by way of laziness.
In less than two weeks this administration has killed its credibility. Trump, again, is more likely to tell the truth by accident than on purpose. He makes his bellicose worst-guy-at-a-football-game press secretary roll out self-aggrandizing lies about the size of his…whatever.
All of his cabinet picks are corrupt suck ups, their only qualification being supporting a geriatric Twitterstorm for president. Most of the appointments are the equivalent of nominating an atheist for Pope. It shows contempt and breeds resentment. This is not how you inspire confidence in your ability to pick “the best people.” Caligula picked his horse to be consul. Trump picked Rick Perry.
The self-proclaimed face of the movement, Kellyanne Conway is a much-deserved punch line for her ditsy mean girl obfuscation shtick. I’ve been accused of making fun of her looks which is not true. I’ve merely pointed out that Conway going on national television shiny with hilariously crooked eyelashes tells me her makeup girl is in the Resistance. Steve Bannon, Trump’s favorite gelatinous warthog, seems to be pushing out rank nepotism poster boy son-in-law Jared Kushner. Well, Kushner that’s what happens when you don’t work on the Sabbath but DO work with neo-Nazis. So amoral cannibals are at war with one another which is fun to think about.
Last December, Obama set a trap for Trump. Obama signed an EO sanctioning Russia for interfering in our elections. The one Trump won by one of the slimmest margins in history. Of course, Putin’s prom date has the power to lift any sanctions done by executive order. And because Donny is clueless, that’s of course what he’s said he’d do his first week in office. Which would be admitting everything he’s been denying when it comes to Russia and our election. And again, would play against his legitimacy at home and on the world stage. This is not something a thinking person would walk into. That’s dumb even for Trump. It’s like playing chess with a hobgoblin that’s only interested in eating the board.
But with his volatility there’s a self-destruct mechanism and we’re seeing flashes of it. A conman has to be able to escape before the dupes wise up and get their torches and pitchforks. He’s got nowhere to go. So we keep seeing his ham fists in the proverbial cookie jar. It’s good news.
What’s not happening is any reaching out to the other side. What’s not happening are his approval numbers going up. What’s not happening is winning people over or at the very least not enraging them. What’s not happening is an American Presidency. No, what we’re seeing is a farcical PSA on why civic engagement is indispensable. “Self-governance can be a slog, but there are worse things…”
I say this all to make a point: This fight is winnable. Trump can’t build consensus, but we can. They’re unimaginably bad at their jobs and all we have to do is resist. Just say no. Beat up on your Congressman and Senator. Call them. Hold them accountable. It’s working. Encourage defections. Protest! March! Reach out to Republicans. If I can openly (gulp) admit that I (gulp) agree with Dick Cheney who said Trump’s Muslim ban is unconstitutional, then you can too! (The pain is fleeting, I promise.)
Ignore people who say protesting doesn’t matter or isn’t important. It’s a visual representation of dissent. There’s a reason why it’s protected in the very first Amendment: It works. It demoralizes any sitting President. Take to the streets.
The acting Attorney General Sally Yates pulled off a perfect act of nonviolent struggle this week. She took an oath to defend the Constitution and defied the Commander-in-Chief’s order to violate it. If Trump were smart (which no matter how many times he tells us he is – he ain’t), he would have ignored her and quietly replaced her with his pick of Jeff Sessions. By firing her and sending out a Trumpian insult-laden statement attacking her, he made her into a national hero. Super villain, meet your archenemy: Ms. Martyr for the Constitution. The main tenet of nonviolent struggle is to resist and let the monsters show themselves. John Lewis knows that. We’ve watched him in action! The more people who peacefully stand up only to be knocked down by Baby Boom Boom, the less likely he is to achieve his goal of having the biggest crowds showing him how much we all love Dear Leader.
Kidding, his goal is to use his awesome power to crush his enemies, dehumanize people of color and enrich himself. However, if he keeps on hitting sympathetic targets like freaking war orphans, that’s going to be much more difficult.
As of this writing there are nearly 1,000 State Department Foreign Service officers and civil servants that have signed a dissent document about the Muslim ban and delivered it to the White House.
Unprecedented. That’s not “working out very nicely,” for Trump. That’s a fiasco.
This isn’t Nazi Germany. This is the richest country on the planet and we’re all horribly spoiled with our prosperity and relative economic security. Germany was reeling from WWI when Hitler took power. Our country has been stable and the economy had been steadily improving. The conditions are different. Also I bristle at the 1930s Germany analogy because Trump really likes being compared to Hitler. Trump doesn’t read but liked having Hitler’s speeches in his bedside table according to one of his long-suffering wives. Apparently he sleeps better when the Fuhrer’s words are close by. Yes, I’m saying we’re insulting Hitler’s intelligence by calling him Trump.
Which leads me to the most important thing: It’s essential to mock this vulgar fried chicken as much as possible. He can’t handle criticism. If he were smart (which he ain’t) he would have known that public servants get eviscerated for sport. He wishes our national pastime were baseball. Our national pastime is telling our leaders they suck at their job. Say it with me now: We need a pitcher, not a pussy grabber!
Every day since Trump was elected, I’ve made it my personal objective to publicly shame at least one Republican lawmaker for their ability to work with a prolific sexual predator and make up a rude nickname for the President. Today’s? Odious Orange. Although I’m not sure is Orange Odious is funnier.
I get a lot of emails asking me what we should do. I worked on the Hill. I’ve been a member of the much-maligned media. I’m the person in their address book who should have these answers. Right? I’ve been struggling to not dip into despair. Instead, I’m angry and I’m plotting. Here’s the strategy: Revolt.
It’s working. They’re failing. Help them along. Support Democrats laying their bodies on the gears. Practice civil disobedience. Stand up for human rights. I have friends who have chosen their civil disobedience to be reaching out to Muslim groups on the phone and telling them they’re welcome in our country. If you can’t figure out what to do, be kind to someone who’s a target. #Revolt
The silent majority is a rhetorical device to boost unpopular ideas. While 63 million Americans voted for him, nearly 250 million Americans DID NOT. Trump’s rabid followers are microscopic by comparison. We are the majority; it’s time to start acting like it.
We’re the noisy majority. We’re the popular voters. Don’t shut up. Don’t lose hope.
They’re bigots but they’re too lazy to pull this off. And there are more of us.