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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Theme Of Trump's Presidency: The Privileges Of Power

It was Scaramucci's long tenure as part of President Trump's staff that finally helped me finally realize what Trump's Presidency is all about. It is all about the perks one enjoys when one has power.

Why would Scaramucci's long standing appointment help me see what many others had perceived before? And why call his time at the White House long when he lasted around 10 days? The answer to the latter question is that a 10-day stint for a person of Scaramucci's character is a very long time. But it was Scaramucci's rant against White House other members of Trump's White House team that initially went unpunished that clued me in. How could one in Scaramucci's position speak publicly like he did and not even be reprimanded the same day? Not having to exercise self-restraint was a perk of power that Scaramucci temporarily enjoyed. And it is a privilege that President Trump still enjoys.

But Trump's theme of enjoying the privileges of power began with his campaign promises to both put America first and to rebuild our decimated military. We should note a past infamous candidate who promised to put their nation first and then did all he could to destroy the world. Of course, that was Adolph Hitler. In fact, Dr. Seuss mocked such an attitude that directed America's rejection of Jewish immigrants from Germany when Hitler was in charge (click here). We should also note that the call to rebuild the military is a Republican mantra that is chanted in each election where the sitting President is a Democrat.

This combination of putting America first and expanding our power so that no one would dare challenge us is the first indication of Trump's love of the privileges of power. And that love of the privileges of power for America really appealed to his authoritarian followers. Of course, the second sign followed on the heels of the first sign. That second sign was Trump's promise to his followers who attended his rallies that he would pay their legal fees if they put protesters at the rallies in their place.

Trump's assumption of privileges has only continued from his refusal to release his tax returns to his threats against legislators who don't vote his way to his pondering of whether he could pardon himself to his constant trips to Mara Lago where a business interest of his profits while he plays golf on a regular basis. In these cases, Trump shows that, unlike the rest of us, he doesn't have to be accountable to others.

But Trump doesn't just enjoy the privileges of power for himself. He has celebrated the privileges of others who are in power as well from Duterte in Philippines to Putin in Russia while praising Kim Jung-Un. In addition, Trump encouraged NYPD officers to be rough with those from the MS-13 gang. True, the members of this gang take pride in showing a degree of brutality that is beyond the pale. But Trump should know that American brutality gave birth to this gang during the 1980s in El Salvador as US trained El Salvadoran military and paramilitary troops tortured and murdered many citizens. MS-13 was merely a group that had learned to survive the atrocities we trained troops to commit.

True, Scaramucci's privileges have been revoked by the new chief of staff, retired Marine General John Kelly. Apparently, Kelly's Marine Corps training and experience had adequately prepared him to handle a front stabber like Scaramucci. So at least power does not mean that one does not have to exercise self-restraint when representing the Administration to the public. But what about the other situations where Trump, and those who are with him, revel in not having to either exercise self-restraint or be accountable?

We should not be surprised that the US has elected an autocratic leader in Donald Trump. Our religious heritage has helped create a highly authoritarian culture in this nation where power is king and nuance is nothing. And it is only when we can break free from that authoritarian mindset that we can actually defang a power hungry President. We can neither wait for Congress to impeach him nor for Mueller to indict him. That is because, though we might sincerely home for either event, neither one is guaranteed. For as long as we are passive authoritarians in this nation,  people like Trump will seek power for the privileges it renders them. And they will use those privileges to put them way above the rest of us.

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