As I have noted in this space before, Hannah Arendt once wrote that totalitarian propaganda is “as frank as it is mendacious.” The forty-fifth president of the United States has just furnished a perfect example of this elegant oxymoron, depicted above. It is a lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, but no more than the truth that Trump has always wanted to destroy the Constitution. So now he is expressing this openly, and the MAGA-tized Republican Party that he took over and corrupted is, of course, silent.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the president’s oath of office runs as follows: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The oath was false when he swore it at noon on January 20, 2017, and the double failure to remove him from office and prevent him from ever holding it again will forever stand as a fatal precedent in the life of the American nation, even if the Department of Justice finally does the right thing and indicts him for some of his numerous crimes against us, the people.
“As to Hitler, I have nothing to say,” the great Austrian Jewish satirist Karl Kraus wrote ironically soon after his countryman’s rise to power in neighboring Germany. Of course, there was plenty to say, but Kraus directed much more of his ire against the cowards and opportunists who were making this catastrophe possible. So, now, it may feel as if we exhausted the subject of Trump, but we are merely exhausted from talking about him ever since he rode that escalator of the damned back in 2015. Unfortunately, we Americans are all trapped inside the narcissistic would-be dictator’s mind, and there is no escaping his foul pronunciamentos, even though he is deprived of formal governmental power, at least for now. And as in Hitler’s case, the greater share of our fury must be reserved for the cowards and opportunists who foisted him upon us and who continue to refuse their patriotic duty of atoning for this crime, and making sure it never happens again. They are all guilty, from the “adults in the room” who claimed to be working day and night from inside his administration to mitigate the harm he was doing, down to your cousins Ralph and Gina, who said they didn’t care for the way Trump was given to expressing himself but just had to vote for him because of abortion, or because “Hillary is worse,” or to “send a message,” or on account of whatever damned excuse they gave. One million, eighty-one thousand Americans are dead of COVID as of this writing, perhaps one-third or more of them because of Trump’s malevolent approach to the pandemic, and tens of millions of our fellow citizens still hang on his every word as if he was a prophet of God, something all too many of them literally believe. Now he has declared war on the very Constitution those masses of “conservatives” claim to revere like the text of the Bible, and still they follow him down to perdition, if not lower, as they “work toward the Führer” in his goal of destroying the country they insist they love. This is and always was the logical “termination,” or more precisely the terminus, of Trumpism.