Terry H. Schwadron
Aug. 21, 2019
It’s a normal late summer day, hot and humid, with tensions in the world thankfully staying about the same overnight. Turning on the news, I’m presented anew with pronouncements from a White House whose truth is at odds with everything I hear, taste, touch or smell.
An increasing number of people I meet are turning away from what they perceive to be unpleasant. They just don’t what to think about what Donald Trump thinks or does because so much of it runs afoul of long-held values about being an American and a human. I’m still getting angry about it. I don’t react well to being told that Denial is Truth.
— Recession fears, as reflected in market drops and business leaders talking about global slowdowns? Nope. Trump says there is no chance of recession, that somehow the Fed, other nations and the news media are causing a global slowdown. Really? The media are prompting all those adverse economic signs? Aren’t these the same kind of denials that preceded the 2007 bubble burst that caused global economic mayhem?
— A payroll tax? No, Trump says there is no such plan before turning around and saying there is, a position that will disappear by mid-September.
— Polling results, meaningless or not, this time from Fox News, showing the president behind at least four Democratic candidates? Fake news, he says. He doesn’t believe it, adding that he holds the results against Fox News, whose job he thinks is to promote him. Hey, I don’t like the baseball scores, but I don’t doubt that they were true for yesterday’s games.
— Consumers are paying for the continuing tariffs? It’s not so, says Trump, who repeats that China has funneled at least $60 billion this year into the U.S. Treasury despite every piece of evidence to the contrary.
— Guns are not a problem, says this White House, preferring to focus on some bland, basic approach mental health explanations even as they cut funds for mental (and physical) health care.
The litany goes on and on as Trump handles one-liners on his way to the latest helicopter trip to and from his latest time at Trump properties. Frankly, the constant lying and invention of explanation is exhausting. It’s why people, even good dedicated thinkers, are drifting away from the daily fight.
Worse, the White House efforts are making people tune out, perhaps achieving exactly the real goal of a Trump presidency — to so deaden and undermine public reaction so as to make our slide into a Trumpian autocracy pass by unnoticed or a matter of “fake news.”
As a friend reminded me recently, Aldous Huxley noted that when everyone is shouting a different version of what is happening, there is no truth to be had. As Trump succeeds in attacking Science, institutional knowledge, the intelligence community, information-collection and the news media, he creates chaos, in which the White House “alternative facts” are as good an explanation for climate change or health access or international weapons agreements as any observable and measurable index.
— Shell oil workers were told that they didn’t have to attend a Trump rally in their town, but they would lose money if they did not. Say what?
— Expressing opposition to the right-leaning Israeli government policies on grabbing Arab lands for settlements is anti-Semitic? I oppose grabbing settlements land, and I am the son of a Holocaust survivor.
— The Statue of Liberty poem inviting to the United States those from wretched and poor backgrounds means only Europeans? This is nuts.
Meanwhile, immigrants are running around frightened or hiding from a campaign to debase and deport them. Health consumers are struggling with medical bills and the loss of insurance engineered by an uncaring administration. It seems fifty-fifth at best as to whether even renewed mass shootings will prompt even the most basic of background requirements for gun purchases.
As Trump denies, the climate crisis moves closer, with new evidence being reported of areas of water shortages and increased agriculture-endangered heat. Manufacturing jobs, the darling of this administration, are tapering off, and there is little evidence of the promised return of jobs from overseas. We’re cutting money for food stamps, and pretty much ignoring the idea that the number of black prisoners in this country dwarfs the percentage of population. In the White House, we are celebrating the further success of the wealthy over workers as the income gap grows.
Despite the pull to go stick my head in the sun and sand, I will pay attention to what Trump says and does. It is too important to let his version of events go unchallenged.
How about we stay awake and angry until November, 2020.