They will puzzle at Trump’s insistence on a wall that will not work while tearing up treaties that would have slowed the advance of climate change, while tearing up regulations designed to protect the air and water for future generations, while shredding the relationships with allies that have kept overall world peace for decades and while vastly enriching himself and his family at the expense of taxpayers.
But perhaps the most damage Trump has done is to our self-respect as a nation. We have dumbed down our expectations of what it means to be a good, effective and moral leader. We have accepted the “new normal” of American leadership as self-absorbed, materialistic and provoking one outrage after another, week after week.
Hope is our only recourse
After 12,000 Trump lies — all provable — to the American people, the only recourse we have is to hope that we don’t have another 2000 or 2016 election, where the popular vote was outweighed by the Electoral College. Already, bad actors in Russia, Iran, China, North Korea and in the U.S. are readying huge disinformation campaigns to sway voters against whoever the Democratic candidate is. The major aim is to convince people not to vote, that their vote doesn’t matter and to tamp down any enthusiasm for Democrats.
And Democrats aren’t making it difficult. They are doing little to excite or reassure voters. What visions they do have are so costly, impractical and unlikely to be enacted that people are scoffing openly.
Forty-one percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing. The average for all presidents in their 10th quarter in the White House is 54 percent. But Barack Obama had a 41 percent approval rating at the exact same point in his presidency, and he was re-elected.
Trump is counting on “optics,” such as his wall, negative and divisive tweets and media lust for the turmoil he causes to get re-elected. Right now, those who think he can’t possibly be re-elected, and those who say he will, have a 50 percent chance of being correct.