There are certain times when it can be overwhelming to maintain accurate records of the horrible acts, tweets and blunders committed by U.S. President Donald Trump and those who lap at his pant cuffs. It all seems to blend into one giant cacophony of despair and outrage.
But former George W. Bush speech writer David Frum, who has been in the midst of redeeming himself after the “axis of evil” schmozzle and the Iraq War madness of the past decade, has managed to track the Trump presidency, from its causes to its effects to its potential consequences.
Frum is currently senior editor at the Atlantic, and is positioning himself as far away as possible from Trump Republicans in his latest book, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic.
As he does on Twitter, Frum pulls no punches, suggesting, given his inside knowledge of the Republican party, that “the Trump White House is a mess of careless slobs,” and that the president himself is “cruel, vengeful, egoistic, ignorant, lazy, avaricious and treacherous.”
But how did this happen? What circumstances, culture and climate enabled the Electoral College’s selection of an apparent maniac?
Frum leads the reader through post-9/11 America, where the gap between rich and poor has increased dramatically, an astonishing feature of globalization and the rise of technology that has not been addressed by either party.
The story is one of alienation, where slowly but surely many Americans, due to the erosion of any financial controls by Frum’s former employers (not addressed here at all) and the financial crisis of 2008, began to see themselves as victims of “political correctness.”
But it wasn’t just Trump supporters and white nationalists: “Many people solidly middle class or even rather affluent also felt their world was turning upside down.”
And, as Frum posits, “Donald Trump did not create the vulnerabilities he exploited. They awaited him.” And with the surprising (or not surprising, depending on how honest you want to be with yourself) victory of The Donald, an executive, legislature and bureaucracy which enables his antics has been invigorated.
Inexplicably, Trump is able to berate the media, calling them “the enemy;” lambaste his international opponents; lie through his teeth about his connections with Russia; and proclaim absurd and hateful whiz-bangs through social media.
And 35 per cent of Americans still think he’s the man.
Frum centres most of his blame on the Republican Party, namely its elites, and the media outlets and corporations which deflect truth and insert and trumpet alternative facts. And, frustratingly, the Trumps are profiting over this presidency, as Frum astonishingly points out that “they came to loot.” From Donald to daughter Ivanka to her husband Jared Kushner and the rest of the lot, they all have their hands, according to Frum, in the pockets of political donations and backroom deals which trample on any ethical line between the White House and private dealings.
In 2018, the United States of America is led by a maniacal liar. As Frum suggests, “No American president in history … has trafficked more in untruths than Donald Trump.” Whether it is former press secretary Sean Spicer, current press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Trump himself, there is a complete disregard for what is right, and it is dragging the entire planet down with it.
But alas, there is hope, writes Frum. Trump has served a wake-up call to both the left and right, Frum espouses, while kicking Bernie Sanders’ campaign to the side without an ounce of recognition as to the validity of Bernie’s message and his chances if not meddled with by his own party. The author, in fact, equates Bernie’s calling out of the mainstream elite as “noise.”
In a somewhat anticlimactic conclusion, Frum strokes his chin and ponders the individual’s role in combating Trump — that somehow the “Trump presidency may administer a much-needed booster shot” to a bewildered, alienated younger generation.
Perhaps. Sanders was arguably this booster shot, but was vanquished by a political system forever controlled by greed, elitism, nepotism and a republic, not a democracy, designed to support the elite, all the while perpetuating the myth of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.