Trump: From fear to extremism and back

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On May 8, Americans were informed that President Donald Trump had dismissed James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Reasons for his dismissal have become the latest firestorm in the Trump administration, as those reasons change from almost one day to the next.

This scenario is not new or unique for this president. It is “just the way he is” as his proponents give passes to his overreaches, inept actions, lack of common knowledge, failure to use common sense, opposition to traditional government and frequently unconstitutional executive orders.

It seems as if the Trump presidency was and is personal, a calculated risk he decided to take — win, lose or draw.

By winning, he could be the most powerful man in the world governing the most powerful nation in the world. By losing or ending in a draw, he could extend a personal opportunity, greater than ever, to expand his financial position in the world.

As the political scene is today, Trump has all but destroyed the established Republican Party, cast the Democratic Party in utter disarray, filled his Cabinet with billionaires like himself and aligned his foreign policy goals to fit and promote this nation’s No. 1 enemy: Russia.

In addition, the nation’s intelligence organizations and the National Security Agency consistently informed us that Russia was tenaciously interfering with our nation’s election processes. Many came to believe the Russians were attempting to sway the election in Donald Trump’s favor. Others say there is no proof, but there are three investigations ongoing to determine who is right.

Now, the American people did not have all this information prior to Nov. 8, but we heard plenty in the campaign. On the morning of Nov. 9, Trump was declared the winner. How and why Trump won is still an enigma and is causing us to question some of our longstanding traditions.

Space will not allow me to cover the many factors of how and why Trump won. But let’s start with two we know and have experienced but may not understand. Let’s name backlash and hate.

A backlash occurs when there are steep or numerous changes in our society and/or culture. A very steep change was Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008. Suddenly, America realized an African-American family would inhabit the White House and Obama, a “black” man, would govern America.

Hate that had been hidden from view became visible, widespread and focused on the recent change in government. Faith in hope and change began to decline. Members of Congress met and pledged to make Obama fail. Instead, he won a second term, and the backlash and hate grew deeper.

During Obama’s second term, Fox News, led by Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, The Heritage Foundation, ALEC and other tenacious conservative organizations moved the nation among extremely partisan lines. In addition, this effort was assisted by Congress and its leaders John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, who refused to pass any substantive legislation on pressing issues.

Two examples are immigration and an increase in wages. Conservative partisans touted excessive regulations, claiming they hampered business and eroded jobs. Manufacturing gave way to high technology and educational quality, especially in rural areas and impoverished cities, did not keep pace with technological needs.

Americans had become afraid and distrustful of government. They blamed Obama for the congressional gridlock and increasingly embraced an extreme conservative ideology. In that atmosphere, Sen. Ted Cruz successfully shut down the government.

Passed by only Democratic votes, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, currently insures more than 20 million people. As the number of Americans with health insurance increased, the U.S. House voted 60 times to repeal what could be a para-universal health care program.

As the 2016 presidential campaign developed and the parties chose their standard bearers, Trump and Clinton, the door to no-holds-barred extremism swung wide open.

Unfortunately, Americans put aside our exceptionality, excused democracy and fairness, turned away from decency, morals and manners and excused the process of demonization. In so doing, we elected Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.