Even seven months after the fact, I still wake up some mornings feeling a combination of low-grade nausea and high-grade disbelief that the words president and Trump have been inextricably linked in the fabric of this country and will be forever in its history.
Some days are worse than others. Most times I can accept the philosophical approach of the cooler heads who say “we’ll get him in 2018” or “give the Russia investigation a chance,” but then there are days like this when the Senate health care proposal threatens tens of millions of Americans, specifically the oldest and poorest for whom the simple act of voting is sometimes a formidable task. They cannot defend themselves and offer no threat in 2018: they are the exact group of people that a predator like Donald Trump can attack with impunity.
During the campaign there was a great deal of talk about Trump’s history of racism, all of it verified, none of it mattering to the sixty-odd million Americans (or is that sixty million odd Americans?) who voted for him. Remember the Mexican judge who was biased because he was Mexican? Remember the doormen in Trump’s buildings who were told to deflect prospective black tenants? Remember how in 1989 he said in an interview, “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market…if I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today”? Remember how the facts refuted that? Remember the Mexicans as rapists and murderers? Remember his shout-out to “my African American” at that rally as if he owned him like in the good ol’ days?
Remember his complaint that “black guys” were counting the casino money in Atlantic City? His insistence on prosecuting and persecuting the Central Park Five (all of whom werelater proven innocent.)? Remember the incessant attacks on Barack Obama’s academic record and the spurious but widely publicized birther fiasco?
I conflate Trump’s rabid and inveterate racism with health care today because when Trump let slip last week that the Senate health care bill was mean, he misspoke. That word has no significance for him nor does it for any predator. Maybe in a childlike view of the world we can call a jackal cruel or vicious, but we are merely trying to explain predatory behavior in human terms. The jackal would not agree with our assessment. He is merely being a jackal; Trump is merely being Trump. He does not know what mean means. His undisguised racism is proof.
Trump’s health care plan (and make no mistake—he will support it) punishes the weakest Americans and afflicts their loved ones. It compels people in a so-called advanced and civilized country to choose between food for their families and doctors’ care for themselves. Men, women, and children will die needlessly. The older Americans living on the margins who looked to Trump to bring back the good old days will, sadly, get their wish: average life expectancy in the U.S. in 1960 was just under seventy years; in 2014, just under eighty. Without a plausible national health care policy we can leap backward into that “Great America” the red-hat-wearers long for—the days when we didn’t clutter up the world with our longevity.
To paraphrase that English playwright who lived twelve years beyond his life expectancy, a death panel by any other name would smell as fetid.
As I said, some days are worse than others: we do not seem to have scraped bottom yet.