Personal Stories

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Like most people, I didn’t know much about Donald Trump before the primary race in 2015-16. But it was hard for me to get excited about a person who thought hand/penis size was an appropriate subject for presidential debate.

Stumbling on a rerun of The Apprentice confirmed my feelings.

I have kept politics mostly out of my Looper stories, valuing and appreciating

the friendship of fellow Loopers much more. I worked very hard to keep my

‘2020’ stories objective while still being honest with my feelings.

But January 6th, and maybe more significant, the recorded phone call a few days earlier of Trump blatantly asking the Georgia Secretary of State to find enough votes to overturn the Georgia election results, changes the story line.

I don’t want my Grandchildren to have any doubt about my feelings about

what happened on January 6th.

 
German stormtroopers forcing some of the 50,000 survivors of the 1943 Jewish Ghetto Uprising to the Majdanek and Treblinka death camps.
Couldn’t happen in America?
Probably not many Germans thought it could happen in Germany,
even as they watched the Reichstag (their capitol) burn in 1933, most
likely fired by Nazi brownshirts, the stormtropers' predecessors.

January 20, 2021

There is a line in Amanda Gorman’s stunning recital of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at Biden’s inauguration which captures the essence of American history.

“Being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”

Americans have always been a rambunctious and conflicted people. We tolerate firm leadership only in the most dire circumstances. We rebel against authority yet ground our society in the rule of law. We legally enslaved 20% of our population at the same time we proclaimed all men are created equal. We fought a bloody Civil War to end slavery only to let Jim Crow laws perpetuate the problem another 150 years and counting. We tipped the scales in the Great War only to shrink from the challenge to keep it from happening again.

 

We emerged from World War II and the Cold War the undisputed greatest power in the world only to waste our moral authority on perceived threats to our assumed superiority. We are a country of immigrants but strip children from parents who only hope for the same chance our ancestors got. We resist change, as do most countries, but until recently we’ve been the most upwardly mobile society in history.

Imagine what America could be if we could only get our act together! But empires from the beginning of recorded history have dreamed the same dream. It’s not that easy.

Yet the strength of America lies in this very confliction, as incongruent as that may sound. It’s not so much that we disagree on almost anything and everything, it’s that we have the freedom to disagree and that we generally agree to the boundaries acceptable for that disagreement.

 

This dates back to 1798 when John Adam’s Federalist Party pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts to tamp down opposition to a war with France they thought was coming. The ensuing prosecutions fueled furious and vicious debate over freedom of speech and the role of the emerging political parties. Thomas Jefferson led the opposition, which coalesced into the Republican party (today usually referred to as the Democratic-Republican party to avoid confusion with the current Republican Party, even if that invites more confusion), undoubtedly contributing to his victory over Adams in 1800.

The Alien Act reads a lot like Donald Trump’s immigration policies without the children part. The Sedition Act probably wouldn’t pass muster in today’s Supreme Court. Political parties come and go but politics have not changed much, even when compared to politics of the horse and buggy era. The leader of the today's Republican Party, not to be confused with the party that defended free speech in 1798, labels any free speech he doesn’t like as fake news.  It shouldn’t be surprising that he too was a one term President, just like John Adams, though Adams, as a Founding Father of the country, had a somewhat more significant resume prior to becoming the second President.

Losing hurts, there’s no way around it. I can only imagine Al Gore’s exasperation as President of the Senate in 2001, opening and recording the electoral votes that made him the loser of the 2000 election to George W. Bush by 5 votes, despite Gore getting a half million more popular votes. But he did it with a grace similar to that Mike Pence mustered to rebuke his boss’s insistence that he send certified results back to the states to be re-certified for the much less close election of 2020. I doubt that neither Gore or Pence appreciate being mentioned in the same sentence, but in their role as President of the Senate, both upheld the rule of law and put country over politics.

I have waded through Donald Trump’s 70 minute ‘Save America Rally’ speech on January 6th. Not exactly the Gettysburg Address, but if you close your eyes to facts, you can easily sway to the rambling dialogue. If, despite all the court judgements, you believe the ‘election was stolen’, you hear exactly what you want to hear, and you’re pumped to march on the Capitol Building and do whatever it takes to stop the counting of electoral votes that will officially make Trump a former President.

This is a demagogue at the peak of his power: someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of his supporters to incite something few of them would consider on their own. And then not lead them as promised, but slip back into the White House to watch them do his bidding on TV. Hitler would be proud, if scornful of his failure.

 

​If you still believe Donald Trump was only doing what was necessary to make America great, you must also admit that, even if you once did, you no longer believe in democracy or the rule of law, or at least that you’re pretty gullible or naive. 

 

Trump’s speech and the desecration that followed is the cumulation of a lifetime of bullying, ego and lies. Whatever you think of Trump’s presidential accomplishments or lack thereof, it is now impossible to deny that the most important to him was to stay in power anyway he could, to hell with truth, boundaries or pandemics.

His diehard supporters may still see expensive suits and may still think something is true simply because Donald Trump says it’s true, but any child can see The Emperor Has No Clothes. The next year or so will probably strip away more of his wardrobe. Please, please take those too long ties that overhang and emphasize his gut. But please leave his boxers. I have absolutely no desire to find out if he was also lying about what’s underneath.