Our Collective National Nightmare

Alan Zendell, October 13, 2017

Whether we observe it in our children, friends, peers, or relatives, I can’t think of a more annoying and disagreeable trait than spite and its toxic cousin, vindictiveness. They generally result in nothing positive and are never productive either in terms of relationships or productivity. The one exception may be when the individual displaying those behaviors is so wealthy and powerful, he or she can’t be ignored. When it’s the president of the United States who behaves that way, the result is at best mind-numbing and at worst, catastrophic, though we haven’t yet seen the consequences reach such disastrous heights.

For nearly two years I have tried to convince myself and those who read this blog that while Donald Trump panders to the worst elements of human nature, he may not be inherently evil himself. But the virulent nature of his spiteful hatred for Barrack Obama and anything that Obama was associated with reveals something far darker about Trump than I imagined. This isn’t just his extreme narcissism and arrogant disregard for anyone but himself. This is a darkness that would be unbecoming in anyone, but for a president to behave this way unabashedly displaying it to the entire world is appalling.

Aside from the more racist elements of his base and those who would move heaven and earth to stem the tide of the great transfer of wealth represented by Obamacare, the entire world now sees Trump for what he is – a mean-spirited nasty little man who has no business at all wielding the kind of power he does. All in one day, we see the vindictive side of his nature influencing his decisions on health care, North Korea, Iran, and the unfortunate plight of Puerto Rico. That’s damn scary. How did we ever get to this point?

Despite there being plenty of good cause, I’d been wondering about all the chatter coming from various sources in the media about disgruntled Cabinet officers. The speculation about Tillerson or Mattis being so fed up they were ready to quit never felt credible to me. People at that level either quit or stay but they don’t moan in public about how difficult the decision is. It’s becoming clearer to me now, that all that back chatter was more about the fantasy that displeasure with Trump within the Cabinet might be great enough for the twenty-fifth amendment to come into play. That’s how desperate much of the country has become as a result of Trump’s actions and overall demeanor.

Exactly what does the twenty-fifth amendment to the Constitution prescribe? It was written to assure that if a president were to become unable to perform his duties, there would be a smooth transition allowing the Vice President to take over. But the part of the amendment that’s getting so much attention these days is the provision that the Vice President, with a majority of the president’s Cabinet officers, may jointly declare to the Congress that the president is unfit to serve and have him removed from office.

Aside from the bizarre notion that a bunch of sycophants appointed by the president, none of whom are elected officials, might act to unseat him, does anyone think that’s likely to happen? At the moment it seems like pure fantasy, more an indication of the extremely low esteem (and fear) in which Trump is held by most of the country than a viable solution to the problem.

Looking over the current Cabinet, it’s difficult to imagine a majority taking such an action. Suppose Tillerson and Mattis saw the calamitous handwriting on the wall and decided they’d had enough. Who else would join them? Jeff Sessions, who has seen Trump’s vindictiveness more clearly than anyone? Elaine Chao, acting as Mitch McConnell’s executioner? Mike Pompeo, the CIA Director? Surely not Mike Pence who has been Trump’s most loyal lapdog, Ben Carson, who sold his soul to the devil early on, Rick Perry, who serves a president who demeaned his intelligence from day one, Betsy Devos, who would still be sipping tea at her country club if not for Trump, or the new HHS Secretary who isn’t even confirmed yet.

So don’t bet your mortgage on being saved by the twenty-fifth amendment. Our nasty, vindictive president will go on trying to dismantle everything Obama ever touched until Congress has the courage to stop him, which means our only hope is the 2018 election. If you want this nightmare to end, find someone worth supporting in your Congressional district and do everything you can to help him or her win.

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