Whatever naiveté we carried with us about our republic we can ditch now after four years of Donald Trump, whose failed presidency put an end to this age of innocence.
One writer for The Atlantic said it well when he wrote: “America under Trump became less free, less equal, more divided, more alone, deeper in debt, swampier, dirtier, meaner, sicker, and deader.”
Not a word in that sentence is inaccurate, which is the pity of it. We wake up to an America today that looks far more foreboding than at any point in my lifetime.
I say that after seeing urban streets ablaze in the 1960s, after watching the body bags ‑— a first cousin was in one — return to the United State from Southeast Asia in the ’70s and after hearing the wails of people whose lives were turned upside-down during the mortgage crisis.
The America we thought we knew was little more than le Carré fiction. We had perceived ourselves as an exceptional, a country too arrogant to worry much about injustices and political hijinks that wove their ways into the DNA of other countries.
Yet Trump proved we were no better than those tin-pot regimes in Southeast Asia or Africa, where dictators emerged from the woodworks and slapped the citizens with restrictive governance.
That would never be our America, right?
It has, however, become our America, although not totally. Ours is a country darker, sicker and deadlier than anybody thought possible. The country that the rest of the world once looked up to has been found to be as amoral and as politically corrupt as Russia.
America got there because the people took their eyes off its principles. The country sold its soul to Trump, a wannabe dictator who talked at every turn of ditching aspects of the Constitution that didn’t fit his agenda.
We allowed Trump to rule through intimidation, and too many of us accepted his lies as part of the bargain we were willing to make to see his vision become our reality.
Keep in mind that more than 70 million Americans voted for Trump’s style of leadership. They saw in it what they wanted America to be — a country with no compassion for the have-nots and handouts for those who don’t need.
Trump’s leadership ushered in a class of superrich who profit at the expense of everybody else. Oligarchs would be the right word to describe them; greedy, another. For how else do you explain a man whose net worth sits at $182 billion?
The notion that such wealth will trickle down to the middle class was proved years ago to mask the disparity in our society. Dream big dreams, and you too might have such wealth.
Trump preached that message throughout his four years in office. He made rich people even richer, and he made the divide between them and everybody else wider than it had ever been.
This America has been a shameful America, as has the president who led us to this pathetic state. Trump’s political obituary will be crafted around the dishonesty and the divisiveness that came in with him and will leave with him.
In a few weeks, we bury Trump and his legacy. My hope is he left enough democratic principles in place to salvage our republic