The improbability this election presented was Trump’s victory after using offensive statements, jests and situations in today’s America. Not only did it seem Trump said everything wrong, but he frequently did everything wrong. Seldom did he say he was sorry but heart-felt apologies were ridiculous. It was obvious that no one believed Trump’s sincerity; they learned later that Trump had done or said something else which was more grossly offensive. And in the end everyone wondered, with the same question: How could this man have become president?
There are two reasons why Americans excused Trump’s language and behavior. In the current culture in words and action, a lot of Trump’s words and actions, are heard and seen everywhere, not just locker rooms. There is an acceptance of them uttering and sensing, hearing and sometimes experiencing. But do people actually engage in those actions, outside of TV? Most Americans don’t like to realize that someone might actually do gross, rude, obscene and criminal acts. Those words and phrases are part of the general vocabulary, confronting people every day. When saying a woman bleeds from her eyes “or wherever,” there has to be Halloween costumes worse than that; there may be more costumes among “undead outfits.” Movies and TV are worse. I’ve seen characters (players) that have no skin – it’s just blood.
The background drumbeat of words, once shocking, are now incorporated into the vernacular as verbalizations or major restatements of society. There is no refinement. It is a greater denigration leading to decadence. Early in life Americans are subject to the torments of personal abuse. Before puberty some girls are being destroyed; some are called sluts by classmates. They are critiqued by body size, brain size (head shape I suppose) and bra size. Many of those comments has been present throughout the post-elementary school experience. Words will be said. Now any infraction raises the cry, bully. Not every statement is one of a bully; the heart and soul of the speaker may not be in it. But no one knows, and Americans must learn that not every one went to the Ivy League and has manners, and took speaking lessons, mastering something George Orwell called newspeak.
Words, meanings and insinuations do carry too far. Being vulgar, boorish, uncouth is not penalized now. Being loud, aggressive and ignorant is accepted. Gentleness, understanding and diplomacy are weaknesses. Firmness, responsibility and social obligations (once known as public virtue) are obsolete. Fact, reason, wisdom and judgment are eschewed. Displays of emotions and drama entertain but fail to substitute for politics – policies, legislation and putting words into action. During the election of 2016 that is what Americans saw, and that is the choice they had:
When people want to give Trump a chance or they claim Trump wasn’t truly elected, it is on these points, his manner of appealing as an entertainer, making emotional appeals and producing phony dramas. That way forward should unsettle all Americans. In our politics we have learned to take concrete steps into the future.
It is unlikely Trump will differ much from Obama. During its beginning months, a sentence of policy emerged from Obama: A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. It is not clear that Trump will abandon his campaigning ways (anymore than Obama did). Americans seem stuck with what is presented to us in a semantic conundrum: “Versions are released for the people from above and can be altered the very next day. There is no reliable criterion of truth apart from what is the declared truth at any moment. Thus, the lie in fact, becomes the truth, or at any rate the distinction between the truth and lies, in the ordinary sense of the words, disappears. This is a great triumph … in the sphere of knowledge: to the extent that it succeeds in demolishing the notion of truth, it cannot be accused of lying.” Volkogonov, Dmitri, Autopsy for an Empire, The Free Press, N.Y. 1998, p. 393.
If I were in the Democratic Party camp and had money, I would spend on facts, reason, judgment and wisdom. I would fund legal research on one issue within the English speaking world: Conflicts of Interest. A couple of thousand law review articles written by summer’s end should provide enough of a foundation. If these facts within Trump’s administration might already present themselves; the Democrats must be totally prepared: Dump a thousand cases on Trump and the Republicans showing a conflict of interest. When the next conflict of interest arises, dump another thousand cases.
Trump owns a so-called luxury hotel in Washington DC. Should any department or agency of the United States government patronize that hotel while Trump is in the Presidency? No. Why? Conflicts of Interest. Democrats should keep a list of who uses that hotel, and what favors and meeting those people get from the Trump administration. And journalists, always short on research and shorter on leg work, will have to be ready. Will anyone step up and review actions of Trump’s actions as he tries to be President and run his businesses. Some of that research should have been done during the 2016 campaign. Trump will claim Executive Privilege, and the Democrats following Obama’s lead should agree, believe nothing should be investigated. Democrats approved of Obama’s claiming Executive Privilege went beyond his person and the White House staff; entire agencies and Departments fell under Executive Privilege protections.
Perhaps, the Democrats should insist a special prosecutor be appointed. Oddly enough, a special prosecutor was the same action Republicans proposed to investigate issues among Democrats. Obama, and the Democrats refused. If Americans want to return to fact, reason, judgment and wisdom, they must start in a place where those traits are prized and used. Otherwise, the country will receive no solace for four years: Language will become more intemperate and more demeaning with Ivy League newspeak, or schoolyard trash-talk.