I Dissent

I try not to be overtly partisan in my social media. Frankly, I find regular “sniping” from especially liberal “celebs” at political figures, particularly conservative politicians, to be irritating. I am no celeb, of course; but I prefer to keep my partisan political positions private. I am here for my novels and I am not interested in alienating readers by posting about my personal views on divisive political issues.

That said, sometimes on principle we feel we want to say just a little something. However, my tiny contribution to Tuesday’s Instagram “blackout” clearly did not sit right with a long-time “conservative” online friend. She unfollowed me for this:

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I do not care that she did, for in doing so she demonstrated her true stripes – she does not like to see what she does not agree with. My politics have always been basically middle of the road. I am liberal on some things, conservative on others; and there are times I am a bit more one way than the other, and as I recall she had bumped into me during a more conservative phase of my life.

But neither liberal nor conservative should matter about this. I do not understand how anyone could have the slightest problem with any Americans taking a stand in demanding that our police make no distinction among us based on race. It is not that unreasonable an ask: equality before the law.

The only possible disagreement in that context could come from one who is a racist. I suspect that former “friend” is not that. She is evidently just another supposed conservative who “worships” at the altar of the current occupant of the White House.

If you support him, I apologize. But this is my considered opinion after four years of him. I do not write this lightly.

For his entire term so far, I have been HOPING he would grow into the role. Yet again, I wanted to give him a chance to prove me wrong, so I listened to the full nearly hour of the leaked audio of that recent call with the governors while PRAYING I would hear something new and positive from him. I did not.

Clearly it was leaked by someone who wanted to protect themselves and/or to show what he is like even in a private meeting. Indeed he “dominates” it like the overbearing and half-drunk unpredictable uncle at the family barbecue who is pretending, or even imagines, that he knows more than he does, and everyone just endures his blathering. Among others we hear mostly sycophants who try to tell him what he seems to want to hear. Those voices which speak up meekly in some dissent are summarily dismissed or even ridiculed by him.

[Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. Photo by me 2017.]

Abraham Lincoln filled his cabinet with often brilliant men; they also often considered themselves his intellectual superiors and he knew it. Regularly some disagreed with him. Always he LISTENED to what they counselled and sometimes he acted on their advice – and they HELPED him.

This man evidently *listens* to no one. He seems to act based mostly on his own intuition and narrow perspective. He has bragged how often about hiring “the best people” to advise him, but “the best people” do not want to work for someone like him (or if they actually feel they might “educate” him, they quickly learn that it is his way or the highway).

Yes, ten thousand monkeys and ten thousand typewriters will make a sentence, and a stopped clocked is right twice a day; so he will get some things correct. But overall this president is not an effective leader. He is not even in the same presidential universe as a Lincoln.

[The Gettysburg Address. Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. Photo by me 2017.]

More broadly conservatism is taking a tremendous beating due to having him in the White House associated with that word – because he is NO conservative. For instance, he does not give a damn really about the Second Amendment; he is playing to the gallery because defending it is what he feels supporters want to hear from him. He would turn on it in an instant if he thought that would work too.

He has no political principles other than making more money and sticking it to whomever he can – his entire “business” career before becoming president has demonstrated that. He is essentially just a tactless casino owner, scheming real estate developer, and sleazy salesguy; but do not think he is not indeed better at all of that than most others like him. After all, in 2016 he successfully conned some 60 million voters, including at least a few who had apparently also voted for his black predecessor, into buying into him as presidential material.

Just one example. His (current) wife having been raised irreligiously in the former communist Yugoslavia has stated she is now a practicing Roman Catholic, and his denomination at birth was Presbyterian – but you need to look that up about him because the last time he (pre-lockdown) set foot in any church for an ordinary Sunday service and actually quietly bowed down and acknowledged His Maker is decidedly unclear. Thus his posturing the other day with a Bible at the Episcopal church across from the White House clearly was done for just more cheap and brutal theatrics – as if he were defending religion from the lawless hordes in the streets. The denomination’s Washington bishop did not want him there and being him he sought no advice or permission from her before having protesters “cleared” by law enforcement to enable him to walk over to the church.

[The Jerusalem Roman Catholic Bible. Produced for England and Wales. Photo by me, April 6, 2020.]

He is always about using whatever tools and whomever he can to get whatever he wants. It is ALWAYS about him too, which is a major trait we see in authoritarians. I posted to a commenter the other day:

The current POTUS is not another Austrian corporal. Or Il Duce. He strikes me as if he is doing an impersonation of Robert Mugabe – the low-rent name calling, the chest-thumping about the threats to the state, the brow-beating governors into doing what HE decrees, the vainglorious faux religiosity, the citings of how he is the one defending the poor, the endless mocking of the media as a threat to “the people,” and the politicizing the military. I always considered him someone who did not understand what a president does, or knew what the office entailed, or even what to do all day. He proves that repeatedly. He is used to ordering people around and not being questioned – which is why so many of his appointees don’t last long and his closest confidantes are his extended family. He never really before “scared” me as president, until now.

If you believe our president’s main reaction to some street violence among some of the population should be send in the army to mow them down because they are “losers” or whatever other high school level insults he can summon up, I am sorry but you do not really understand the presidency. Thomas Jefferson saw even violent protests as the public keeping the government on its toes. Lincoln bemoaned every soldier killed in the Civil War on BOTH sides: to him a dead Mississippian was as bad as a dead New Yorker because they were BOTH Americans.

George Washington was aware of and even embarrassed by his lack of a formal education and considered the presidency beyond his capacities (and the office was created with him in mind). Jefferson, who was well-educated, felt it was beyond him as well. So certainly did Lincoln. Every other president who was honest about it has felt overwhelmed by the job at times.

This president never really admits to weaknessness, and seems to believe the job is essentially a no-brainer… if only everyone would just not behave “like jerks” and simply do what he decrees. His idea of the presidency is he barks orders and everyone is supposed simply to obey him. If you feel he is what a president should be, and that is what our presidency is or should be, I strongly disagree.

That is also why we have always had elections… a small necessity this president has also been wormily “questioning” for his entire term, and has been gradually increasingly doing so even more with this November approaching and he facing voters himself again. If he (or one of his “allies” in Congress or in a governorship) wins, he will again declare that the public’s voice was properly heard; but if a Democrat wins a close race, we hear grumblings from him like “Well, you know, I’ve heard things, there’s been talk, some stuff, but I can’t tell you details right now, but it’s not good stuff, okay, really not good…” (We can only imagine how he will react if he loses a close vote to the Democratic presidential nominee.) That sort of behavior is UNPRECEDENTED in a president. And, again, that is what an authoritarian and even wannabe dictator tries on a population: he pounds away to undermine and weaken long-established governing norms, tries to make people feel like they are under siege, works to sow doubt in minds about the legitimacy of opposition, and seeks to make himself appear to be the only “honest” solution to their troubles.

[View over the Potomac River, from the back porch of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home. Photo by me, 2011.]

The street violence set off by the police murder of George Floyd will invariably end and so will the COVID-19 pandemic, and as is this president’s nature doubtless he will claim credit for ending both. If a majority of American voters, through the constitutional mechanism of the electoral college, do choose to return him to the presidency, that is fully their right and we all should respect that. But dissent and opposition remains a right too.

I do not do cult-worship of ANY politician. I do not believe anyone should. Period.


UPDATE, 16:06 UK time: According to the Voice of America today, on former Defense Secretary (Marine General) Jim Mattis’s scathing criticisms of all of this in The Atlantic as us now “witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership” (and lots more, including the observation that this president “is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try”), clearly rankled this president, who tweeted this in reply:

“His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon’. I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”

Predictably and wearyingly it is as usual mostly about himself. What HE believes he has “granted.” What HE “likes.”

[George Washington’s grave at his home, Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Photo by me, 2011.]

He has indeed learned nothing since taking office. The man who tweeted that masterpiece is President of the United States. George Washington is spinning in his Mount Vernon tomb.

3 thoughts on “I Dissent

  1. Bravo, dear Robert! You are a true partisan of history! In the old French before 1789 this term was used for any person of honour, who protected & loved his native land.

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