Our New President

We’re barely 24 hours into the term of our 45th president and it’s clear to me—the next four years are going to be one wild ride! It’s possible that life as we know it in America will have disappeared, with no guarantee that there’s a pathway back to restoring it.

I had to work yesterday, so I only caught snippets of Inauguration Day. I did see the swearing in of Pence and Trump. And then, I got to watch his address during lunch.

I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps naively, I held out some glimmer that our new president was going to offer his plan for bringing together a divided people. Not even five minutes in, it was clear that Trump had no interest in unity.

No unity here.

Granted, as one commentator said, for followers of Mr. Trump, he serves as a “kind of Rorschach test” in that they tend to see him in whatever way they want to believe about him and various issues. I’d concur with that.

The only problem with enshrining those beliefs that see him as benign in his intent,  is that there is clear evidence that he has no intention of “making America great again,” and better, his designs for America are much more dark and malevolent, instead.

I believe that life is about journeys and evolution. That is to say that if you don’t hold to rigid ideologies and beliefs, you are often shifting in what you hold to be true about issues and people. This sometimes makes people uncomfortable, especially if they prefer to remain static in worldview. This is especially relevant right now in terms of politics and life in America.

As the race for the White House progressed, my own thoughts and opinions about what was happening at the time shifted. At first, I clearly thought that the Trump presidential run was a ruse and nothing more than an ego-driven publicity stunt by the quintessential 21st century confidence man, not hiding, but deploying his confidence tricks in broad daylight—America’s best-known and richest reality TV celebrity. If only that had been the final episode, I wouldn’t be here writing this today, nearly two years later.

There are things I couldn’t see about Trump back in 2015 and sadly, early 2016 that are now clear as day to me. I’m not proud to admit that I was duped by his “outsider” take, long before it became clear that like all con men—they are adept at telling you what you want to hear, and then reeling you in and setting the hook. Fortunately for me, I was able to “spit” that hook. Here I am today, clear on who Trump is and what his intentions are.

But enough about me.

Let’s talk about Sarah Kendzior. She’s a journalist who also happens to have her PhD in anthropology. I recognize that the Know Nothings that venerate Trump won’t be impressed by a woman with higher ed credentials, but I want to highlight that she’s not some egghead writer merely grinding an ideological axe.

For me, I respect that she’s spent time in countries that were ruled by totalitarian regimes—places like Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. You might recognize them as former members of the Soviet Union. She was also there, pre-Putin. Her efforts make her somewhat of an expert on authoritarianism and autocrats—the latter clearly being the camp that Trump resides in.

Kendzior doesn’t write academic fodder. No, her journalism is the boots-on-the-ground kind of reporting that I’ve always respected and have tried to do some of, myself.

She contends that Trump  will usher in a kleptocracy in America.

Here’s just one of many takes she has on The Donald, aka, our new president (I actually prefer calling him “Orange Julius Caesar”).

It is increasingly clear, as Donald Trump appoints his cabinet of white supremacists and war-mongers, as hate crimes rise, as the institutions that are supposed to protect us cower, as international norms are shattered, that his ascendancy to power is not normal.

 This is an American authoritarian kleptocracy, backed by millionaire white nationalists both in the United States and abroad, meant to strip our country down for parts, often using ethnic violence to do so.

This is not a win for anyone except them. This is a moral loss and a dangerous threat to everyone in the United States, and by extension, everyone abroad.

This quote comes from this article by Kendzior. I’d recommend making the time to read it and some of her other pieces. I also am following her on Twitter, as she links to other articles and writing that I’m not familiar with. Think of her as our Trump-ometer, taking the temperature of the country and converting it into an authoritarian gradient of sorts.

The greatness that Trump talks about isn’t some nostalgic hearkening back to Leave It To Beaver days, either. Kendzior clearly puts that myth to bed in this article.

If like me, you think that Kendzior’s take is a relevant one, then you are buckling-up and readying for severe turbulence. We’ve just elected a racist, sexist, homophobic president with clear authoritarian designs. We haven’t seen anything, yet.

As I processed my day full of information and dissonance yesterday after work, I heard an old Frank Zappa song from Freak Out, from 1966. The DJ on WMPG was playing music fitting for the day (in my opinion), and Zappa’s lyrics on “Trouble Comin’ Every Day” could have been penned by FZ in for this specific time.

I also couldn’t help but recall many things I’d read or heard about Zappa during an earlier period in my life. I had to look up some of his quotes and I particularly liked this one because like the above-reference song, it speaks directly to us across time and can be planted akin to a flag on the moon, in 2017.

One of my favorite philosophical tenets is that people will agree with you only if they already agree with you. You do not change people’s minds.

I’d concur.

What changes minds, however, is when real-life experiences directly impact people and they have the capacity (and possibly the intelligence) to connect the dots and realize that someone that they thought had their interests at heart, didn’t. Instead, they were playing them like all the best con men do, and bilked them out of assets and the country they thought they were living in.