Donald Trump enjoys characterizing protesters as people who hate America. I would like to propose an alternate opinion, or in Trumpspeak an alternate fact: nobody hates America more than Donald Trump does.
Oh he doesn’t hate Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower. He seemed to enjoy Rushmore a few weeks back, and apparently has a warm spot in his heart for Lafayette Square and St. John's Church. Even Portland, Oregon, earns his guardianship. But he hates America as an idea and an ideal. And whereas most of us view the Constitution as one of the world’s great documents, Trump sees it as an impediment first. Of course with his well-formed propensity toward racism and dishonesty, he views all laws as impediments, as problems to be circumvented, diluted, erased.
This fact should have come home to anyone who witnessed the recent ceremonies honoring John Lewis, for the late congressmen saw racism and dishonesty as issues to be overcome, and inattentiveness to the Constitution as the real problem.
Lewis' s final address to the American people—entreating us to stand up for what's right and attack injustice where we find it—stands in glaring contrast to Trump's recent appeal to "suburban housewives" to help him keep the minorities out of their pretty white neighborhoods.
Of course white-privilege-America is where Trump was born and raised. There's no mystery as to why he is eager to return to that time when white authority legally and traditionally suppressed every other race.
Legally. Customarily. But never morally.
And those times created John Lewis, and a myriad of others, white and black. The America that winks at racism and bigotry is disappearing, and Trump has hastened its demise by allowing us to become privy to that ugliness of spirit on which he thrives and which his tweets manifest unabashedly. There is no hiding, nor does he wish to hide, his plenary hatred for the country he purports to lead—a country that committed the unforgivable sin of electing a Black president. What is MAGA other than a promise never to let that happen again?
Now as his term is coming to an end. He has packed the Supreme Court and surrounded himself with sycophants and unhinged ideologues and tried to undo any good his predecessor effected, yet he still hates America; after all, the free press still exists, free elections still occur, and the lower courts keep squelching his authoritarian plans. And that pesky Constitution continues to contradict everything he believes about minorities, women, education, the military, science, religion, and yes, politics. He promised to return America to the 1950s and he has failed.
We're better than that.
We wonder why he shows no empathy for the 150,000 Americans dead from the pandemic. We are merely collateral damage in his holy war to subjugate everyone that falls outside his narrow definition of "American." Like me. Probably like you.
This then is Donald Trump. But this is also the Republican Party. Make no mistake: he has not dragged the GOP down to his level; the GOP has hoisted him up on its shoulders. His politics—if we can use that word to describe the miasma of convoluted, half-baked, and rickety ideas that buttress his overwhelming resentment—have been welcomed by party faithful. I once thought that Trump was an aberration; but in fact he is the redeemer, come to make good on the failed promises of Buckley, Reagan, Gingrich, and the tea party. The Republican Senate now withholds pandemic support for people without food. If we're surprised, we have not been paying attention. More collateral damage.
So the next time you hear Donald Trump claim that liberals hate America, remember what he did to the children at the southern border, how he responded to peaceful protesters in D.C., his kind words for white supremacists in Charlottesville, his scorn for the parents of a Muslim soldier who died defending the United States, his willingness to collude with America's enemies, and his refusal—perhaps his complete inability—to say a kind word about a man who devoted sixty years to public service.
Make no mistake, Trump loves the United States that exists in his most febrile authoritarian fantasies, but he hates—and always will hate—the America in which the rest of us live. It has taken a pandemic to illustrate just how profound his contempt reaches.