Trump the Demagogue Has to Go: Guest MINDSETTER™ Schoos

Monday, August 28, 2017


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Donald Trump

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines demagogue as “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.” Over the past months, I have tried to raise the issue of President Trump’s fitness for the office he holds. For seven months, we have witnessed a stream of invective, character assaults, demonization of governmental institutions, and a headlong attack on the First Amendment.

He claims to “drain the swamp” while placing in his administration people from institutions inextricably linked to his so-called “swamp.” Of course, I may be mistaken, and Goldman Sachs just might be a training ground for government reformers. And let’s not overlook his attempt to populate government positions with former lobbyists, with over 100 lobbyists hired by this administration, two-thirds of whom work in the departments they previously lobbied. Many lobbyists cum government employees have yet to receive the requisite waivers from Trump’s own ethics rules, but that shouldn’t be surprising.  His own director of Trump’s Office for Government Ethics resigned because he felt that he couldn’t do his job.

Disregarding the facts, “drain the swamp” is a good political tag line. Trump counts on a significant number of low-information, marginalized and angry voters to cheer him on at the top of their lungs. These people, many with justifiable grievances, form Trump’s base of support. And their leader, a narcissistic carnival barker, disrespects them by going on the stump and treating them like Pavlov’s dogs.

 Since his announcement for the Presidency in 2015, we’ve witnessed Trump’s racism and misogyny on full and constant display. Two years of bile and hate directed at those least powerful in our society – the poor,  immigrants, and women. Who can forget the comments about Mexican rapists, the Billy Bush tape, and Trump’s budget and tax plans that will eviscerate programs that serve the poor and the elderly in order to support tax cuts for the rich?  And this doesn’t even include his health care “reform,” which would only throw tens of millions off of their health insurance plans,  while dramatically raising rates for those still insured.

 Increasingly, Trump directs his vitriol toward other government institutions, particularly the courts and Congress, all in an effort to discredit them in the eyes of his supporters. The narcissist needs a foil for his failures, of which he continues to have many. Health care reform, that’s the Senate’s failure, not his. It’s hard for me to feel sympathy for Senate Majority Leader McConnell, but after Trump’s incessant haranguing, I do.

And the Courts, the bastion of the fair adjudication of our laws, have been vigorously discredited by this administration. From Judge Curiel in Indiana regarding a civil matter involving Trump, to two federal circuits that upheld the stay on his immigration ban, he attempts to undermine the rule of law at every instance. The only law is Trump’s law.

When the media reports on any of this, it’s called “Fake News.” Reporting on the size of public attendance at his Inauguration – Fake News. The over 1000 lies and mischaracterizations told by Trump since January 20, 2017 – Fake News. Russian interference in the 2016 election – Fake News. His contradictory statements on a whole variety of issues – Fake News.

 In Trumplandia, there are only two valid and truthful news sources – Fox News and Trump’s own Twitter account. Trump’s Twitter feeds are legendary, if only for the ridiculous way he uses them to announce policy (e.g. transgenders in the military) or attack political opponents (take your pick as there are too many to begin to list).

In a previous Mindsetter™ I wrote about the method to his madness. Over the previous eight months, we’ve seen this madness, in stark relief, on full display. Trump can only disguise his incompetence and his insecurities by bullying and destroying others, plugging into the worst fears and biases of his followers. The cult of Trump begins to form…

 As low as Trump has stooped since he championed the birtherism issue, the past few weeks have shown how shallow, ill-equipped, and soulless he is, especially for the leader of a great pluralistic society such as ours. First it was his overly bellicose “fire and fury” comments directed toward North Korea. Taking a tough stand against North Korea is one thing, but to use words that could inflame an already inflammatory situation is quite another, especially in a game of nuclear chicken. For a man who deliberately and often cynically uses words to affect events and outcomes, he was derelict. But then again, he seems to live in a Marvel Comics world where nuance and strategy don’t exist.

But his response to the events in Charlottesville Virginia, and his speech in Phoenix a week later showed us who he really is – a racist white nationalist who treads lightly around the Klan and Nazis, as witnessed by his initial statements. Drawing a false equivalency between two protesting groups for the violence that day, and barely acknowledging the death that occurred at the hands of one member of the “alt-right” protesters, he said there was blame on “many sides.”     

     Two days later, he delivered a prepared statement placing responsibility for the violence squarely on the “alt-right” protesters, but the very next day, in extemporaneous remarks, he not only defended his initial remarks but also tried to equate Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It is one thing to have little knowledge of American history and another to disrespect that history with what little knowledge he had.

     In Phoenix, he attempted to defend his Charlottesville remarks by omitting the portion that falsely equated the sides, and then called out the media for falsely reporting his statements. I guess he forgets, or hopes that we forget, that there are tapes of him speaking.

     Donald John Trump has elevated hate into a political art form.  Never in American history have we had a president as hateful, spiteful, narcissistic, uninformed, and temperamentally unsuited for the office he holds. He ran on hate and governs on hate. If someone has a grievance, he’s your champion. If someone has a bias, he’s there to justify and validate that bias. And if someone is confused by competing sources of information, he stands as the sole provider of “truth.”

President Trump is a demagogue, pure and simple. He calls for patriotic unity but behaves as the divider-in-chief. He has shown his lack of temperament and governing competence, along with his lack of character necessary to lead a great nation.

Whether by impeachment, resignation, or the 25th Amendment, it is time for us to show this demagogue the door.

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Geoffrey A. Schoos, Esq is the President of the Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump’s Budget - 2017

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Gina Raimondo 

RI Governor 

"Rhode Island is making strong progress to provide our people with the education and job training they need to be successful and to expand access to affordable, quality health care to virtually everyone in our state. 

President Trump's budget betrays Rhode Islanders by giving huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest Americans while drastically reducing federal funding for vital programs that create jobs, raise wages, and protect low-income Americans. 

Even as we analyze President Trump's budget in the coming days to determine its specific impacts on Rhode Island, I appreciate the members of Rhode Island's Congressional Delegation for their leadership and advocacy, and I join them in calling on their colleagues in Washington, D.C. to stop the Trump administration from making massive cuts to health care, public schools, affordable housing, and other programs that Rhode Islanders rely upon."

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

“In March, President Trump released a budget outline that I strongly condemned for its drastic cuts to programs that help everyday Americans. Unfortunately, the President’s full budget proposal continues these harmful policies by gutting programs that invest in our economy, create jobs and provide crucial assistance to families across the country. 

This proposal slashes funding for education, food assistance and health care for low-income seniors, children and people with disabilities. It makes cuts to worker training, environmental protection, and investments in medical research and advanced manufacturing. These are not mere luxuries, but programs that make meaningful differences in the lives of Rhode Islanders. 

Congress must reject this cynical and misguided budget. Instead, we should work together in a bipartisan manner, as we did on the recently passed 2017 funding bill, to find a balanced approach to funding priorities that will support families, promote economic growth and provide for our national security.”  

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

“If a budget is a statement of your priorities and values, then Donald Trump’s budget shows he doesn’t understand the challenges facing honest, hardworking Rhode Islanders. This is a budget written by the wealthiest Americans for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. But it’s a setback for the middle class. It makes life harder for anyone who’s trying to punch a ticket to the middle class.”

Donald Trump has already proposed a huge tax cut for billionaires. But the budget he released today says everyone else is on their own. This budget eliminates hundreds of millions of dollars for job creation. It zeroes out funding for workforce training and good-paying manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island. And it makes it even harder for young people to succeed by cutting teacher training, eliminating afterschool funding, and making it harder to pay off student loans.”

This budget does nothing to address Rhode Island’s crumbling infrastructure. It eliminates the TIGER grant program, which is critical to supporting local infrastructure projects like the new commuter rail station in Pawtucket. And it cuts funding for public transit by $928 million.”

And most worrisome of all, this budget makes our towns and cities less safe. It actually cuts funding for firefighters. It cuts billions from the EPA and other resources to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. And it slashes $978 million from the Army Corps of Engineers – meaning Rhode Island will be less prepared for hurricanes and have fewer resources to protect the quality of our waterways.”

Plain and simple, this is not a budget that any Member of Congress should be comfortable supporting. Along with my colleagues in the House Democratic Leadership, I will do everything I can to reverse these devastating cuts and shape a budget that invests in the future of our country and puts honest, hardworking families first.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse 

U.S. Senator

“This budget is reckless, plain and simple. The President proposes massive cuts to Medicaid, breaking yet another campaign promise. He seeks to decimate the federal government’s central command in the battle against the opioid crisis affecting communities from Burrillville to Westerly. He pursues tens of billions of dollars in cuts to student loans and loan forgiveness programs.

His plan would slash funding for research into life-saving cures; lay waste to endowments that support Rhode Island’s world-class cultural institutions; hamstring the EPA so big polluters can poison our air and water; and weaken NOAA, sapping critical resources for coastal economies like Rhode Island’s. The list goes on.

These senseless, irresponsible choices serve one purpose: to pave the way for tax cuts for the very wealthiest.  The good news is that this extremist proposal will go nowhere in the Senate. I look forward to moving past this political stunt of a budget and working on one the American people will support.”

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Jack Reed 

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s budget is bad news for Rhode Island because it weakens our economy and places new burdens on families, businesses, and communities across the country. 

The Trump budget takes a less is more approach: less investment in education, health care, transportation and safety for the general public and more pollution, outsourcing jobs overseas, and tax breaks for the wealthy and well-connected.

This irresponsible budget would be a real setback for middle-class families and seniors in particular.  The $800 billion in Medicaid cuts could cause over 10 million low-income Americans to lose their health coverage.  If this budget were enacted, more elderly Americans could be forced to go from assisted living to living on the streets.  That is immoral and ill-advised.

The Trump cuts also threaten federal funding for public education, medical research, job training and economic development. These cuts are counterproductive and won’t achieve real cost-savings.  In fact, they would impede economic growth.

Families with limited incomes who are trying to make ends meet get hit hardest by the Trump budget.  It takes food, health care, and retirement security away from children, seniors, and people with disabilities while adding funds for an ineffective border wall and tax cuts for millionaires.  It eliminates the LIHEAP energy assistance program, Community Development Block Grants, and many other critical, cost-effective programs that have a positive impact on Rhode Island. 

While our military deserves to be well-funded, cutting diplomacy and foreign aid won’t help prevent war.  These are the wrong priorities for America and don’t reflect our core values.

I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fight these disastrous cuts and enact a more balanced, fiscally responsible budget that focuses on job creation and strengthening the middle-class.”


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