Perhaps I am dating myself, but I have lived at this point under 13 different occupants of the White House and never has there been such an embarrassment - indeed, threat to the nation, like the current occupant. Given polling results, it appears that a majority of the citizenry agrees with that assessment. Seemingly, only evangelical Christians - who have glaringly displayed their moral bankruptcy - white supremacists, and greed driven vulture capitalist on Wall Street appear to continue to support the current occupant who daily displays his unfitness for office. His Vice President who makes Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes look like a pillar of decisiveness and wisdom. America has become a caricature of the banana republics once so derided during my lifetime. Frighteningly, there is no clear sign post of how the national nightmare will end. Even America's closest ally, the United Kingdom, with all of its own problems, does not want Trump to visit. A piece at Moyers.com
looks at how low America has fallen. Here are excerpts:
people call Donald Trump an authoritarian, it almost gives him more credit
he deserves. You don’t think favorably of authoritarians; they are despicable. But you
do think of them as monstrously large, grievously terrifying, as somehow taking
the measure of the polity they control and drawing on its stature to puff
themselves up, even as they destroy their nation’s moral core. Despots like Mussolini
and Hitler epitomized evil on the grandest possible scale. To call them clowns
would trivialize the unconscionable horrors they inflicted.
Trump is certainly an authoritarian, but he is more of a tinhorn dictator,
a tiny, negligible man who, rather than inflating himself with the nation’s
grandeur, has managed to deflate the nation with his own insipidness. Thanks to
him, America is now a banana republic. It is no longer a country of soaring
ideas and idealism, a beacon to the world, an example of freedom at home and a
protector of freedom abroad, an anchor of sanity in a world often bouncing on
the waves of madness.
her failings, America was once majestic. Now she is hopelessly diminish
-ed — a
wealthier version of the corrupt nations in the developing world that we
to ridicule. And we owe it all to Donald Trump for making America small again.
The meme of America withering into a banana republic is not a new one.
Some observers made the claim after the 2000 presidential election, when Republicans
successfully wrested the presidency from Al Gore, just the way cabals do in
those banana republics.
In Vanity Fair, the late
Christopher Hitchens was more expansive. He enumerated
the many ways in which
America, the last great hope of mankind, had become
a banana republic —
primarily the way the government was willing to bail out
the oligarchs while
letting the general public suffer.
Hitchens added that there is absolutely no accountability for
the thieves. This all
should sound very familiar this week, as Republicans
retool the entire tax system
to rob from the poor and middle classes and give
to corporations and the
wealthy. If that isn’t a banana republic, I don’t know
But Krugman and Hitchens were writing before we had a bona
fide banana republic dictator to rule our kleptocracy. And while America long
has had the economic and social characteristics of a banana republic, it took
Trump, who has the instincts and temperament of a gangster, to finish the
transformation. There is no disguising it now. We are what we are.
is the kleptocrat-in-chief. He not only appears to be using the presidency as
his own personal ATM, now promoting a tax-cut scam by which he stands to gain
tens of millions of dollars, he also has been petty enough to steer business to
his hotels and hawked his “Make America Great Again” tchotchkes. Check.
Apparently not satisfied to have enriched himself at the public’s expense,
Trump has brought unprecedented
nepotism to the presidency in a way that only tinhorn dictators
giving his family access to the public trough while placing his unqualified
cronies in positions of power. In this administration, everyone may be on the
Like other tinhorn dictators, Trump has no use for the
essentials of democracy.
He openly attacks a free press and has a house press
of his own, Fox News, and soon,
quite possibly, Time Inc.
are allegations that he may using the levers of government to punish his
opponents, using the Justice Department’s antitrust suit against the
AT&T purchase of Time Warner to try to force the divestment of CNN.
This, too, is unprecedented in an American
democracy, but not in a banana republic.
Trump has taken aim at the electoral process itself,
not only claiming that his loss
of the popular vote was a fraud, but empaneling a government
sole purpose is thought to be the
disenfranchisement of voters who might oppose
him. This is pure banana
republicanism and an affront to democracy. Check.
republics are often agent states — that is, they operate at the behest of
states. In fact the phrase “banana republic” first was coined by the
writer O. Henry
back in 1904, to describe the dependence of Central American
countries on American
businesses like United Fruit, which ran plantations in
those countries and exported
Now, America itself is one of those agent states, thanks to Trump’s
troubling obeisance to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Let’s not pretend
otherwise just so we can save some face. There is no more face to save.
American elections interfered with by Russia and a president intimidated by a
Russian dictator? Check.
Tinhorn dictators do everything they can to dismantle
a system of checks and
balances. Trump has done everything in his power to do
the same — from
dismissing FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating
intimidating the Justice Department and taking over the Consumer
Protection Bureau to…. well, you name it. Untrammeled power is
his goal. Check.
In a banana republic, the dictator makes his own rules
and lives by his
own reality. Clearly, Trump thinks he is above the law, be it
legal or moral.
He boasts of it. He also is above fact. The latest example
of the thousands
of his presidency: According to The New York Times, he privately has
declared that the Access Hollywood tape was not actually him! Banana
republic time. Check.
Trump has demeaned himself, but he has also demeaned the country
deranged enough to elect him. These characteristics speak to a corrupt
desiccated nation, one that is staggering into oblivion.
The “alt-right” insist that until Trump, America was going the way of Rome
— rotting from the inside. They are wrong. It is not decadence that is
destroying America, but petulance. We are going not the way of Rome but the way
of Guatemala or Zimbabwe or the Philippines — the way of banana republics. Thus
does this once great nation tumble.
As for those who cite the fall of the Western Roman Empire as precedent, they miss two things (among others). One of the precursor was that they system became so tilted in favor of the wealthy class, that average people simply ceased to see a benefit from living under the empire. A second factor was the insidious rise of Christianity and its call to ignore fact and objective reason with its adherents withdrawing into a fantasy world that undermined the empire. We see both of these elements growing under the Trump/Pence regime.