Trump’s own failures and scandals distract from each other. There is so much evidence for his incompetence and corruption that it’s really hard to focus on one thing, and that’s where his supporters can focus on a single accolade and put it above all the static.
What do we do with all the static? From caged children, to approaching 200,000 coronavirus deaths, to his ties to Russia, to his failed border wall… I’m out of breath naming each of these MONUMENTAL scandals, any single one of which would have ended any normal political career.
There is one specific argument that has all the elements of a sound, focused, repeatable, irrefutable argument against this president: “the universe of criminality” surrounding trump.
Bannon goes down
It’s hardly a headline these days: another close trump confidant is arrested on federal charges. Bannon is credited with saving the trump campaign as it was floundering (link: wallstreetjournal) before the election, and he was a profoundly powerful advisor in the nascent years of the presidency.
The charge? Stealing money from hundreds of thousands of people (link: NPR) in a scheme where he took donations to build parts of the wall on the border.*
It’s endless; again, we are so desensitized to it: Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen… all convicted. And these are just the most senior guys in Trump’s inner-circle. The simple fact is Trump is running an organization where criminality is everywhere.
By the time a typical candidate gets to the White House they have a deep career in politics, with tons of like-minded friends ready to drop their jobs in the private or public sector and come work for the president for less pay.
When Obama did this, he put together a “miraculously” scandal free organization. Miraculous in the sense that when you have an operation as large as the executive branch of the US government, you are bound to have a few bad apples. Obama’s, stunningly, had close to zero (you will like this link).
What this says is that Obama’s contact list is full of incorruptible people who are genuinely willing to work hard to benefit the American people.
Look at Trump’s crew. He scrapes to give jobs to donors (who effectively buy power), and guess how that’s gone (link: NPR). Good people don’t want to work for him, hence all the vacancies in his government. The simple conclusion: He rolls with criminally suspect people, whether he’s the influencer or the influencee does not matter, the avarice in his circle is clear.
Just Like a Crime Family.
Attorneys bribing pornstars to stay silent. Lieutenants taking prison sentences and taking all the heat for their boss to the bitter end (then boss using his power to make lighter sentences (link: nbcnews).
This dynamic has been so consistently repeated that you must conclude Donald trump is a criminal, or a supremely incompetent judge of character. I don’t believe the latter, but both conclusions force any person of conscience to not vote for him. You either vote for someone who’s a criminal, or you vote for someone who is too stupid for the office.
Trump’s defense when he was confronted (link: MSNBC) with the question of the universe of criminality orbiting around him:
“I never knew the guy.”
“Obama was corrupt.”
These are the cowardly deflections of a fading mob boss still counting on his followers to trust in his old, tired deflections of blame.
Avoid the cult
Of course, this argument won’t affect anyone who drank the kool-aid in the cult of trump. Save your energy. These are folks who can swallow 200,000 American deaths and proudly vote for trump again to satisfy their thinly veiled racism.
But there is an outer skin of the cult, a thin layer of (white) people who defend the gray, hazy conservative ethos that overlaps with that of the trump cult. These are folks who are religious, conservative, but “don’t like trump”.
There is hope for some of these folks to peel away from the cult, and at the very least, they can be convinced to stop defending the cult and perhaps not vote in November. Hopefully if you have folks like this in your life they will be receptive to this simple argument.
The Fading Mob Boss
His homies are going down. Indicted confidants are turning on him and spilling the beans (link: independent). His list of friends gets thinner and thinner. His veneer of power and confidence is paper thin and flaking away. Why does he still have power?
The cult. It’s us. The populace either continues to support him, or is too cowardly to resist. The future of this republic is on our shoulders, that’s what it means when the constitution says for the people, BY the people. The destiny of our country is in our hands.
Please, think of someone who is on the political fence, who trusts you, with whom you don’t have an adversarial relationship. Start a conversation. For the sake of argument and simplicity, avoid the subjects of children in cages, covid deaths, misogyny, racism, and everything else. Begin with the FACT that Trump is surrounded by criminals.
Then contrast it with the fact that Obama went 8 years without a scandal anywhere close to what this administration plunks out any given week. And the #2 in Obama’s administration was a dude named Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent. Contrast the criminality of the two, Trump risked his presidency to try to pin criminality on Biden’s son. He failed.
A vote for Trump or a non-vote is to participate in his criminality: The decision is clear.
*But if criminality is too long of an argument, and if you want an even simpler, more antagonistic argument in three words: “where’s the wall?”