What Hath Trump Wrought?

Alan Zendell, October 29, 2018

As you contemplate how you will vote this year, keep in mind that President Trump has characterized this election as a referendum on him. Of course it is. In Trumpland, everything is about him. Let’s go with that and look at the facts.

Trump and his Republican dominated Congress passed what the president called the largest tax cut in history for the middle class. But a recent poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee found that an overwhelming majority of voters believe by more than two to one that the tax cuts benefit the wealthy instead of average Americans. Only you know how it affected your taxes, but what you may not know is that as a result of the tax cuts, the gross federal debt increased by $1.25 trillion in FY 2018, and in FY 2019, which began on October 1st, the federal deficit is expected to increase from $779 billion to $984 billion.

The unemployment rate has continued the decline that began during the Obama administration and is now at a twenty-year low, but from September 2017 to September 2018, real average hourly earnings increased by only 0.4 percent, before inflation. And the stock market boom that was attributed to Trump’s election is over. On January 1, 2018 the S&P 500 index, the single best indicator of the strength of US industry, stood at 2790. When the markets closed on October 26, it was 2659. That’s a drop of 4.7%.

Under Trump’s tax law, your personal tax cuts will decrease each year until they disappear in 2026, and by then, the government may have no choice but to severely cut Social Security and Medicare to avoid insolvency. Trump’s actions have already increased health insurance premiums for millions. Decide for yourself whether, on balance, all that is positive or negative.

We have lived for more than three years in the moral vacuum of Trump’s rhetoric of hate and division. He has raised the national level of anger and mistrust to levels not seen since the darkest days of the Vietnam War. While I’m sure that Trump, personally, is neither racist nor anti-semitic, he continues to pander to White Supremacists, religious bigots, and right wing conspiracy advocates. He also accepts no responsibility for the results of his rabble rousing. Despite provoking rage and feverish discord at every opportunity, he would have us believe that the explosive divisions in our country are the fault of the media.

I don’t believe that, and neither do most Americans. Acts of violence by mentally unstable people have been with us for decades. In the past we’ve wrung our hands about the availability of guns and a health care system that mostly ignores the mentally ill, and then watched in horror as our lawmakers said, “Guns don’t kill, people do,” and made no attempt to solve either problem. Over time we’ve come to accept that these randomly occurring events were part of life, and hoped we wouldn’t be among the victims next time.

But it’s different, now. Today, Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager was the latest Trump sycophant to claim that the president’s rhetoric is not responsible for the recent spate of violence. But we know better, don’t we? There was nothing random or accidental about what happened last week. Three horrifying acts of domestic terrorism in one week, just as Trump turned up the hate volume at his Nazi-style rallies leading up to the election cannot possibly be unrelated to the president’s behavior.

Three violent acts by deranged individuals charged with rage until they suddenly reached the breaking point all at the same time should have the same effect on us as fire alarms and air raid sirens. We’ve been broken for a long time, but Donald Trump has exposed every crack and fissure in our national psyche and exploited it. He has magnified them until he created a monster and then looked away and claimed it wasn’t his fault.

Of course it’s his fault. Is it a coincidence that every person on the current mad bomber’s list was someone targeted by Trump at his rallies? Is there no relationship between a professed racist suddenly acting out his rage against black people in a Louisville supermarket and Trump’s refusal to condemn proponents of racism because it would cost him their votes?

And in the very same week, when another mentally ill loser decided to kill people in Pittsburgh just because they were Jewish, in the midst of the president’s constant verbal attacks against everyone outside his base, these events cannot be unrelated. When the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, having suffered this tragic loss, said the president was unwelcome there until he clearly and positively refuted the causes of racism and neo-Naziism, they spoke for all of us.

We’ve had enough of Trump’s false platitudes and self-serving hate-mongering. When I cast my ballot on the first day of early voting in Maryland last week, every box I marked was in the knowledge that Trump’s shadow was on it. He’ll be there when you vote, too.

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