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January 15, 2020



After years of observation there can be no question that Mr. Trump is, at heart, a dictator –  whether that be in business or politics. He is a bully of a certain type, a willing destroyer of anyone who disagrees with him. He is a pathological liar. He is power hungry and self-centered – a classic psychopathic narcissist. He is emotionally weak and unable to face criticism. He is often irrational and responds without thinking in a destructive knee-jerk manner to any criticism. He is a billionaire who is disconnected from the rest of us by extreme wealth. He has no empathy or compassion for his fellow  Americans, often mocking and verbally abusing various individuals (imagined competitors, critics, soldiers, the disabled, immigrants, the poor, etc) with abandon. He has made a habit of using and abusing women; age has not mellowed his viewpoints about the roles of women with whom he is associated or how they should serve (or service) him. He is full of self-importance and false bravado, is fearful of anyone who is more capable, is not well educated (or simply failed to learn), is undiplomatic, is disrespectful to Americans and foreigners as well as foreign dignitaries, is socially inept, is high strung, and lacks analytical objective thinking skills. In short he is not a leader and never will be. He’s a rich incompetent man who has been put in charge. He has the classic personality make-up of a Napoleon, Mussolini, or Hitler – individuals who pretended to lead by misleading and threatening anyone who disagreed, steam-rolling the entire populace in order to satisfy the need for the worship and undying attention they craved. If Americans and world leaders won’t worship Trump, like those other dictators he’ll find a way to force it through any tactic as we’ve witnessed. He is the sort of head of state who would think nothing of plunging the entire world into chaos simply to make the point that he is the greatest. He is a true narcissistic psychopath.

The people who put him there and continue to support him are contributing to an ongoing cult of personality. Wikipedia: “A cult of personality, or cult of the leader, arises when a country’s regime – or more rarely an individual – uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.” If ever there was a definition of Trump and what he is doing, this is it.

This sort of personality can do a lot of damage in short order, whether that be as a CEO of a business, a politician, or a President. Once empowered they become drunk on the adulation and demand more and more of it. They are not leaders in the usual sense, as in an individual who can engender a following due to intelligent and compassionate support of those who work with them, amplifying their effectiveness by eliciting the best from the people around them. Rather, they lead through the elimination of dissent and creating an environment of fear, an environment of “us against them.” And “them,” of course, is anyone who doesn’t blindly follow them.

I have a lot of friends who are Republicans who defend this man. But only Republicans – no one else. They are his sycophants, his fawning worshipers. Their arguments are:        1. Well, he’s better than Obama! (Better how? Name something.) 2. At least he’s not a Democrat. (We are all Americans first, aren’t we? We pledge allegiance to our country, not to our Party, but that’s another entire discussion. Republicans  have not cornered the market on being good Americans. Being a “good American” demands questioning of political “leaders” at all times and holding them accountable, not blind worship and looking the other way.)  3. God put him there because he’s a Christian. (No, Christian voters put him there because he’s a Republican who supports Christians who give him (and them) power. More on that below.)

That’s as good as it gets. I have yet to hear a rational explanation from any Trump supporter that explains why this maniac should be the President leading a country that is supposed to have the ideals of an advanced civilization. Not once has anyone replied to my questions that the man is rational, capable of problem-solving, diplomatic, highly educated in world cultures, socially savvy, wise, respectful, or particularly considerate of the American people. For those who support him because he “is” Christian, the man is the antithesis of what it means to be “Christian.” He simply is not, and there is no valid reason to describe him as such. Every day of his life he violates nearly all of the teachings of Christ, not to mention the teachings of Mohammed, Buddha, and every other important leader of any supportable religious movement; he also violates the philosophical ideas of Aristotle, Socrates, Epictetus, Aquinas, Nietzsche, Kant, Habermas, Nussbaum and other advanced thinkers of the past and present on how human beings should behave ethically and morally. One does not even need a religious framework or belief system to see plainly and clearly that Donald Trump is what most sensible people would call a “bad person.”

So why do many Americans support him? Why do Evangelicals blindly support him? Well, many Americans ARE Evangelicals, and they don’t think objectively about the hypocrisy of their position; they don’t question authority when it represents itself as Christian. The orthodox have been taught from birth (or later due to a religious transformation)  to accept as fact everything that is spoken from the pulpit or bible study or Sunday School. Blind acceptance is, in fact, a requirement for the Evangelical to follow Christ and be saved. They must go to him “as a little child,” not questioning the elders and their dogma. How do I know this? I know because when I was ten I was forced to attend a Pentecostal fundamentalist church for a decade. I read the Bible all the way through three times, memorized entire books of the New Testament for Bible Quiz competition, and attended the affiliated Christian University from which I have my degree – a major in Biology, a minor in Chemistry, and a required concentration in Christian Theology. Blindly following Trump is the same as blindly following Jesus for Evangelicals. I know this from the inside. Evangelicalism – and any other Orthodox religion that demands absolute fealty – uses the same tactics that all cults use to dispel dissent and force members to stay in line. And as Evangelicals are prone to cultist behavior, then of course they are easy to recruit to other cult-like organizations such as the Republican Party, now ruined by this influx of “believers.” Evangelicals will support a bad person for President if that bad person also happens to be in either cult.  It’s an easy leap from blindly worshiping Jesus to blindly worshiping Trump – Trump as the savior of America. The best way to make him even more powerful would be to crucify him – which begs the question as to whether or not it is safe to impeach (a virtual crucifixion) him without risking the overthrow of the government. It’s a slippery slope from fascist President to fascist dictator, especially with a Congress and Supreme Court filled with his lackeys.

And this is why there should be an absolute strict separation of religion and government. Violation of this basic requirement for a successful democracy obviously leads to the problems we are having now.

I have no political affiliation anymore. I’m a person first and foremost – a human being. This is my primary connection to all of the rest of the people on the planet. We are the same at this level.  I’m classified as an American – the country of my birth – of European ancestry. I know what it means to be an American, and it’s not what the Republican Party has reduced it to. I’m an Iowan, whatever that’s supposed to mean; it’s the region I’m from and it shaped me in certain ways. I’m Caucasian. I know what it means to be white in America.  I’m Midwestern. I know what it means to me to be Midwestern and I know what it means to Americans who are not from the Midwest; I know that I’m not necessarily the person they imagine I am, as I’m also a citizen of the world; I know there are other ways of being and existing. I’m a product of the broad American culture and that’s what makes me an American. That’s how it’s defined, whether we are immigrants, naturalized citizens, or native-born.  My neighbors are Americans too, in spite of the differences in how we experience what it means to be American. Yet the only one of the categories I mention above in which I (we) exist that is firm, solid footing is “human being.” This is the category that matters. The rest is constantly in flux, being defined, re-defined, and argued about. I think some of us Americans have forgotten that we should look after each other – and all of the citizens of the world – first as human beings.

I was “born” a Republican into a Republican family. I gradually eliminated my association with the Party as I got older and became increasingly troubled by the ideologies expressed by the Party leadership. I was troubled by the position that some of us are better Americans than others, a position that was really about race, gender, and immigration status. I was troubled – as a physician – by the attitudes toward women’s health and particularly with the troubling concept that women should both be restricted from ready access to birth control and be compelled to have babies whether or not they can manage them or whether or not it is medically dangerous.  Pregnancy is a private medical condition that should be covered by HIPPA (absolute confidentiality) like the rest of medicine. I was troubled by attitudes toward my American friends and colleagues who were “not white” or considered “foreigners” from a certain white American perspective. I was troubled by the attitude toward the poor and the urge to pull the rug out from under all the social programs that keep people safely off the streets whether that be programs for affordable housing, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, Disability, Pensions, etc., I was troubled by the inability to compromise, I was troubled by the rabid cult-like dedication to the NRA and the concept of unrestricted gun ownership as well as the highly inappropriate influence the NRA lobby has on Congress. I was immensely troubled by the anti-education stance taken by certain Republicans and the lack of support for students and teachers and the dumbing down of  public education as a whole. I continue to be horrified at America’s never-ending saber rattling and spending on war and death, and on and on. In years past I always voted selectively for the individuals I thought were the most competent regardless of Party affiliation. Registered as a Democrat now, I still vote for the individual, not the Party. My allegiance is, after all, to the concept of a more true America, not blind dedication to a political group.

America is a place of contradictions. It is good and it is bad. It depends upon who and where you are as to how you see and experience it. It can be beautiful and hideous all at once. Learning its history is a troubling journey, as its history is one of both amazing progress and terrible behavior. A lot of people have died in the United States and the rest of the the world because of what we’ve done. A lot have also been saved. It’s all a paradox. Our struggles affect the entire planet.

This is not a country that can survive with the sort of president we have now. No country is. Nor is it a country that can withstand the problem of fealty to Party rather than fealty to the concept of America as a sort of Utopia that we are working – however painfully – toward; a utopia that everyone is entitled to – not just those lucky enough to be born within the confines of its borders. We are citizens of the world, not just this country.

We can respectfully disagree on government policy issues and still make progress, but all parts of our government have to work for that to happen, and a real concern for the average person has to exist. Sometimes our government does terrible things due to the fault or failure of Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court. Whether it be slavery, McCarthyism, the Viet Nam War, the unnecessarily long and violent path to Civil Rights, the terrible treatment of Native Americans, or gender equality – the failure to do the right thing over the centuries has done a lot of damage. The responsibility for it falls on both the government we’ve elected or appointed AND the voters who put them there. We are all at fault if we look the other way when our government is harming its own citizens or citizens around the world.

If we want a better country, we have to be better people. We have to do the right things.

The United States cannot be “led” by an incompetent President, Party not withstanding. Nor can Congress support or fail to support the President on the basis of Party politics rather than policy and character. Performance matters; so does competence. So does ethics. The aim of the Republican led Senate to gut the impeachment process is more than just a travesty – it’s an effort to gut the balances of power of the various branches. Taken to the obvious end-point, its a full-out assault on the ideological basis of the American Republic.

What this looks like from my viewpoint sixty years into my life as an American, is an attempted overthrow of the government by the Republican Party – a power grab to control the people, the government, and religion in America. To do this Republicans need a dictator, not a President, and thus the undying support. Why? Because Presidents have to be elected, and that is their weakness. Dictators take power and then have to be overthrown by the will and courage of the people, and that is the dictator’s strength.  People who are afraid do not stand up and say no. Over half of us actually believe in an American government that can work on behalf of all our people –  not just the white ones. We outnumber the Republicans wishing to overthrow the democracy. Yet at the moment they appear to be winning by cheating and abusing  power at the highest levels. Trump is, at the end of the day, his own sort of domestic terrorist. His bully pulpit is Twitter, and from there he terrifies and tortures and attempts to ruin the lives of his critics and everyone caught in the crossfire. He is not a President. He’s a giant poorly behaved two year old.

America has faced many crossroads, some of which could have been the end of the country. In the past we’ve managed to pull through, albeit severely scarred by the process. Will we pull through this time? I don’t know. This is the first time that Congress or the Cabinet has failed (so far) in its duty to control an out-of-control President. I know the damage is already great and is getting worse by the minute, and we are already dragging along a lot of baggage from our difficult past. How much can we bear before we collapse? As a physician I normally advise any patient I see who is suffering from the accumulation of life’s traumas to go into therapy and face their demons. This is what Americans need to do – face the way we’ve each contributed to the difficulties we are having now as a society and take responsibility. This has to start at the grass-roots level and extend to the highest level, ending with the President of the United States. We should demand he step down. The Senate should impeach him for gross incompetence, among other things. If he won’t step down or they won’t impeach and remove him,  then the Cabinet should invoke Article 23 and remove him from office. But then what? We still have the problem of a Congress full of Trump toadies who enabled this fiasco – the fox is guarding the hen-house. What are we to do? They all have to be thrown out.

The young people of America need to register to vote and be heard. If you want the old “white” way to go away and see a new sophisticated America with a return to political diplomacy and a government that respects the people, you’re going to have to both vote it into existence and actively seek office yourselves for altruistic reasons – to do good in the world. Indeed we need change in America.

America has sometimes been “good.” It has sometimes been very bad, as it is right now. Only once was it almost great, and that was the time Americans pulled together and saved the world from Hitler. I say “almost” because we too committed atrocities in the heat of war – Japanese internment camps here at home, nuclear bombs on Japan. We are not innocent in all of this, we Americans who stand by and watch and don’t say anything.

The next dictator to destroy the world could come from our own midst. We would be wise to remember that if we ever want to be great again. Perhaps that dictator is already here.

Trump has to go and Republicans (and others) who support(ed) him have to take ownership for what they’ve done to our country. It’s time to stop pretending that this is only about Party Politics. All of our lives are at stake now. Do NOT forget the past! Terrible things have happened and they can happen again. Do the right thing now. Stand up and say “No, not in America.”  This is not a place for dictators. It is not a place where hope should be lost and ethics forgotten. Americans, BE Americans and wield your power! Speak up and out! March in the streets! Send letters! Vote! Don’t just sit there – do what you have to do to protect our common hope for the future of America and the World.

From → Opinion

  1. Myrna Mary Hartwig permalink

    I totally agree with everything said in this letter! We should be afraid VERY AFRAID of what is going on in the Washington Swamp! God help us!


  2. Yes, that’s the risk, isn’t it. And what IF Trump refuses to vacate the office of President due to losing at the polls or running out of time? He certainly has the chutzpah to claim permanent leadership of the country. Then what?


  3. John kabrich permalink

    Very well written, we differ on many views, I enjoyed reading the entire article , had my chuckles from some of your views.yes we are human beings,how we treat each other thru it be politics,race,religion,money,location or any hundreds of so called reasons is the history of the human race. To try and blame one small moment in time to one person or party or religion is human also.


    • Hitler was just “a small moment in time,” John, and 85 million people died as a consequence. I don’t have to “try” to blame one small moment in time to a disaster – or potential disaster – there are plenty of examples of “small moments in time” nearly destroying humanity. None of this is funny, regardless of background and viewpoint. This will be both fascinating and devastating as it plays out. Meanwhile, I and my family are
      looking for other places to live, places where half the population doesn’t think it’s funny to have a dictator running the show.


  4. B. Anderson permalink

    Good for you for being on point. I for one agree with you. Before he was elected I heard that if elected he would be the last President of the United States. I’m afraid that in 2020 if he gets voted out he won’t leave.


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