“The world is a mess.”
And with that sweeping and nonsensical statement—which has been true every minute of every day throughout the history of mankind—Donald Trump (in a recent interview with David Muir) justified everything from disallowing foreigners from entering the country based on their religion to deporting people who have lived here with their families for years.
“The world is a mess.”
Last summer when Trump announced that he was the only one able to fix things, he was using a simple and foolproof formula that dictators have employed from time immemorial. Be afraid, but I’ll protect you. Adolph Hitler made a similar promise—to defend the purity of the Aryan race. Trump’s approach has been the same; only the “enemy” has changed.
For a man who blustered and bullied his way through an entire campaign that included three debates and countless rallies, he is the most frightened president we have ever elected; and as long as he can convince us that we have reason to be frightened ourselves, the path is clear for him to mold this country in the way he wants it, irrespective of what it was and always had been. Yes folks, only Chancellor Trump can protect us from the Mexican rapists and the Muslim terrorists, from the immoral abortion doctors and rapacious Washington insiders, from the addle-brained climatologists and the treasonous opponents of fossil fuel. He can do all this and more, as long as we remain frightened enough. (I used Chancellor by design—when Hitler rose to power he eliminated the office of president and declared himself Führer und Reichskanzler, leader and chancellor, and left the German people no legal means to get rid of him. Don’t say it can’t happen here. Germany, too, had been a democracy.)
I’ll bet many of you left your homes today, drove your cars somewhere—maybe work, maybe the grocery store or the mall, maybe took your kids to school—and came home again. I don’t know if you were frightened—my guess is no. In truth your experience may not mirror that of all Americans, nor was it likely to have been repeated in some areas of Syria or Afghanistan or Iraq, but here in the United States we have it pretty good. For someone like Donald Trump, who has been shielded in the top 1% all his life and whose brushes with the common man have come only through necessity…for him to tell us the world is a mess is not only disingenuous and misleading, it’s moronic.
The world was a mess in 1861, 1917, 1929, 1939, 1956, 1962, 2001. (476 was no bargain either, I guess.) In fact, you can take any year in any century and find events that might cause someone to say “The world is a mess.” Beyond that you can cite any day when a loved one is taken from us too: on those days we would surrender to the same argument.
But then, whether on an individual basis, or within the realm of society as a whole, we fix it—not by retreating into our holes like a pack of frightened mice, but by being the expansive and progressive country we have always been.
When some Trump apologist claims the world is a mess, ask for details, for specifics, and have at the ready some examples of dire times we met and conquered by forward thinking and activism and courage. We didn’t run away or barricade ourselves from the Great Depression or Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
But if we keep retreating from what Robert Burns called our “fellow-mortals,” situations may arise that go beyond our power to rectify. And that would be a mess.