It is hard to find anyone who doesn’t have an opinion about Donald J. Trump. People either love him or hate him. Regardless of your opinion of him, it is important to understand what Trump has accomplished from a totally objective viewpoint, and it has nothing to do with his policies, politics or pride. I don’t believe that his accomplishments are consciously achieved, but rather are the results of circumstances. In the bestselling children’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” written by Frank L. Baum and published in 1900, near the end of the book Dorothy’s dog Toto knocks over a screen and reveals the true Wizard of Oz, who turns out to be a bumbling charlatan. Like Toto, Trump is inadvertently revealing the deep problems of our culture which need to be resolved if we are to advance as a civilization. Here are a few of the issues which need to be resolved.
- Tripartite Government: The United States Constitution created three divisions of government that are intended to be checks and balances for each other: Executive/Legislative/Judicial. In Trump’s first six months of office, he has revealed that each of these branches must in some way cooperate with the other branches or nothing gets accomplished. As we have seen with Trump’s policies on travel bans, transgender bans, and immigration, the judicial branch is quick to enjoin any action which colorably infringes on constitutional rights. When Trump needed legislative support to change health insurance laws, he found that politics is a fickle mistress and the Legislative Branch was quick to protect its sacred cows. What is even more revealing is how politics affects all three branches. The fight over filling Supreme Court judgeships was bitter and rancorous along party lines. There are dozens of Federal judgeships that are still vacant but appointments by Trump are being held up in the Legislative Branch along party lines. Trump has failed to fill administrative positions that require Legislative Branch approval. The point is that when a President lacks support of the Legislative Branch or the Judicial Branch, nothing happens in DC.
- Violence: The United States superficially prides itself on being inclusive with equal protection for all. As we are seeing however, violence is beginning to be the rule rather than the exception. Trump, whether intentionally or not, has uncovered a deep ugly truth that we are a violent and prejudicial people. It doesn’t matter what labels are put on the rioters and vandals, demonstrations are quickly becoming riots and people and property rights are forfeit. It reminds one of the end of the Roman Empire, when the mobs ruled the empire and riots determined who was right or wrong. Now, people riot to prevent people from exercising their First Amendment rights and police look the other way. Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump supporters are assaulted without warning. Trump firmly believes that he is doing what his constituents want but it has triggered a vast minority’s belief that violence is an acceptable way of protesting his policies. It is an unintended consequence to be sure.
- People would rather be right than happy. When I was a trial attorney, I always asked a new client who wanted to sue someone or had been sued, “would you rather be right or happy?” Luckily for my revenue stream most people wanted to be right and would fight to the bitter end. It always amazed me when people would refuse to compromise when the compromise would allow them to go on with their lives and remove the stress and conflict of litigation. The critics and supporters of Trump have drawn their lines in the sand and dug in their heels. Families are being split over politics and friendships are being destroyed because of difference of opinion. It is like the Trump issue is a catalyst that magnifies small cracks in the foundation of our lives and creates huge fissures that can’t support the weight of relationships. Rather than agree to disagree, people are totally attached to their viewpoint and would rather blowup the relationship than move past their disagreement. I find that people are overly emotional about their political beliefs which is highly counterproductive. When people talk about sanctuary cities, the Wall, transgenders in the military, and what to do about the immigration dilemma, friendships don’t last long. The problem is that people don’t want to resolve their differences or compromise to find a solution. They are right and you are wrong and that is the end of the discussion.
- Immigration and Fear: One of Trump’s unintentional triumphs in this regard is the spotlight he has put on immigration. It is rare to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion about illegal immigration. The truth is that this country has always exploited illegal immigrants to pick crops, clean houses, mow lawns and do manual labor. It has been a way of life in this country for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, gangs have made this into an issue of national security and people are getting hurt more and more frequently. It would seem to be an easy solution to ban criminals and allow law abiding citizens to stay. In the United States our jurisprudence would rather see 100 criminals go free than 1 innocent person go to jail. That belief system has now hit “the Wall” because those 100 criminals are killing innocent people and society is now willing to throw that 1 innocent person under the bus to protect us from the 100 criminals. For people that support that solution, sanctuary cities make no sense and should be punished. It is also a fundamental principle of this country that morality is not a defense to violation of the law. Sanctuary cities are testing this principle and basically telling the Federal Government to go screw itself. Yet these same cities are quick to sue the Federal Government if it cuts off the cities’ grants and financial support. It is a difficult dilemma for everyone.
- Have and Have Not: Trump’s presidency has once again illuminated the class struggle in this country which has been under the radar for a few years. Conservatives (Haves) are once again fighting the Liberals (Have Nots). Liberals want the Federal Government to tax the Haves and give it to the Have Nots. Trump ran his campaign promising the Haves that he would protect their interests. This picture is not black and white of course, many wealthy people are Liberals and many middle class and poverty level citizens are Conservatives. As Trump has promised to make changes to our budget deficits, our failing health care system, and the money the Federal Government doles out like addictive candy, Liberals take offense at his positions and view him and his supporters as evil. Trump’s election offended Liberals who were assured that their candidate would win. They are even more offended that Clinton won the popular vote and lost the electoral college. This has spotlighted the competing interests of the Haves and Have Nots and threatening to spawn civil war.
These are not all the schisms that Trump/Toto has revealed, but some of the more important ones. The frightening aspect to this phenomenon is that people are resorting to violence and conflict rather than seeking compromise and solutions. People who place blame for these circumstances miss the point. It is everyone’s responsibility to find a solution and not inflame the conflict. As cartoonish Walt Kelly once observed, “we have met the enemy and it is us.”