The clown show has already stopped being funny. With less than two weeks in the White House, the Trump Administration has displayed a level of dysfunction rarely seen among people charged with governing the most powerful nation on the planet.
Where to begin? The Commander-in-Chief spent the better part of the week following his inauguration obsessing that the size of the crowd that attended his swearing-in was larger than President Barack Obama’s first inauguration crowd in 2008. This despite indisputable photographs taken at identical times of day that clearly showed much less people attended Mr. Trump’s inauguration. He continued his petty spat in front of the Memorial Wall at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters prompting outgoing CIA Director John Brennan to label his actions as a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement.”
That was for starters. He pivoted from the crowd size tantrum to revisit his false claim that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because three to five million illegal aliens voted in the 2016 presidential election. Study after study has concluded that voting fraud in the United States is negligible. When the President of the United States continues to dispute the facts with “alternative facts” of his own, he calls into question the very integrity of our democratic process and, in a way, raises questions about his legitimacy as the winner who significantly lost the popular vote. More importantly, it adds fuel to the fire for efforts to suppress voter participation by encouraging stricter identification standards.
There are many more examples of firestorms Mr. Trump has created during his limited time as President through Twitter rants and misguided executive orders. The most prominent of these of course being his instituting a ban on incoming travelers from seven primarily Muslim countries despite the fact no citizens of those countries have been involved in terrorist incidents on American soil. The ban is an obvious attempt to satisfy one of his campaign promises and has disrupted and endangered the lives of many innocent people, has unnerved many of our closest allies, and has been fodder for ISIS’s propaganda machine.
The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis has suggested the seemingly level of incompetence in the wording of the executive order and its subsequent chaotic rollout were not merely the bumbling antics of people unprepared to govern, but were done deliberately to create a situation where the Trump Administration would be seen by its base as defenders of the gates against barbarians seeking to get into America and kill us. They portray the media as being among the bleeding-heart liberals who are too naïve and soft-hearted to understand the seriousness of the threat. They accuse the media of whipping up a frenzy among pacifists with their misguided attempts to report the facts. The immigration policy snafu could be a Steve Bannon orchestrated crisis to create the narrative described above. For Mr. Trump, it is another way to win adulation from his fans.
The problem with this scenario is that throwing red meat at your base is something you do during campaigns. The Trump team doesn’t seem to understand the campaign is over and they won. It is time to at least try to unify the country and govern effectively. On the contrary, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon views this as an opportunity to blow up the system. The President empowers him by giving him a seat on the National Security Council, a move that is unprecedented and unnerving to many. It is difficult to know the truth when the administration has a cadre of dissemblers led by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sean Spicer who are skilled at deflecting and presenting alternative facts.
So, what do we social workers do in the face of all this? What we do not do is despair and panic. We stay informed. We mobilize and march when appropriate. We continue to strategize and use our resources to inform our constituents about their rights and encourage them to be civically engaged. We prepare for the battles ahead whether at the national level in 2018 and 2020 or ongoing electoral contests at the state and local level. We must keep the faith that Trump supporters represent a minority of Americans and if we are committed and persistent in our determination to resist the darkness, light and truth will prevail.
Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D
Trump Antics are Nothing to Laugh At was originally published @ Charles Lewis – Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy and has been syndicated with permission.