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Donald Trump and the Decline of American Civilization

Updated on February 9, 2017
We may well be witnessing the destruction of our democratic American institutions.
We may well be witnessing the destruction of our democratic American institutions. | Source

Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes -- from Merriam Webster

How the U.S. is an oligarchy -- Washington Post

How the checks and balances of the United States government are supposed to work.
How the checks and balances of the United States government are supposed to work. | Source

I am not normally a conspiracy theorist.

A year ago today, I was excited about an upcoming hockey game. It wasn't just any hockey game. My team, the Colorado Avalanche, were hosting an outdoor game at the Coors Field baseball stadium against the longtime rival Detroit Red Wings.

Not only did I have tickets, but I was planning to tour Coors Field the second they started building the ice rink. Indeed, it was hard for me to say if I was more excited for the game proper or for the Alumni Game that came the night before, when I could see all my idols from the 1990s playing together one last time.

Spoiler Alert: The Alumni Game was better. To be honest, it was the last really good Colorado Avalanche game.

In addition to that, I had my usual life interests going on -- work, family, money, weight, my cat. I walked through my life convinced I was living in the free world, in the best country in the world -- the United States of America.

A year later, I'm convinced I may well be witnessing the collapse of the United States as we know it. I believe freedom and, especially, democracy may well be falling to the wayside to be replaced with a nepotism-driven oligarchy.

I'm honestly afraid the checks and balances we all grew up learning about in grade school are failing. And we're helpless to stop it.

Donald Trump Insulting Women

Election of Donald Trump as President

I sort of liked The Donald a while back. Before he started being truly offensive in public, I thought he was a funny figure. I mean, that hair alone made him a figure to laugh at, not fear!

However, I remember in 2015 hearing how Donald Trump had made racist comments regarding illegal immigrants. Here's some of what he said:

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Naturally, he received a lot of backlash, especially from the media. He was even forced to sell his shares in the Miss Universe pageant because the networks couldn't abide by such open racism.

I remember thinking, "It doesn't matter how rich you are. The American media isn't going to allow you to be so openly racist."

How wrong I was. Here we are just a year-and-a-half later. Not only is Trump still openly racist -- and sexist -- he's already started implementing his xenophobic and misogynistic policies. He's also trying to suppress the media.

Here's a sampling of the first five days:

  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
  • On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
  • On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
  • On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which de-funds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
  • On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.

Donald Trump during the campaign.
Donald Trump during the campaign. | Source

And I never thought Donald Trump had a chance to become president. I mean, if his rhetoric was so incendiary that he was forced to sell the Miss Universe pageant, how could he be elected to the one of the most powerful positions in the world?! I mean, what Trump was openly saying were the skeletons past presidents all but killed to keep in their closets.

His commentary on women alone should have been enough for any political party to eschew him. (See video in the sidebar.) Plus, this is a man who's been accused of raping his own wife, Ivana, when they were still married. He's been accused of raping 13-year-old girls. That doesn't seem so far-fetched when you remember he's admitted to walking into Miss Universe pageant rooms knowing underage girls were undressed:

"I'll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else.You know, no men are anywhere. And I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant. And therefore I'm inspecting it... Is everyone OK? You know, they're standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible-looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that."

The contestants were as young as 15. None ever gave him permission to walk in on them.

But then, this is a man whose wife has posed naked. I have no problem with a woman posing naked -- unless she's going to be the First Lady, especially directly after a First Lady who caught flak for wearing sleeveless dresses! The hypocrisy astounds me.

Anyway, this post isn't about hypocrisy -- that would be a whole separate article. Instead, let's look at how the 45th president of the United States could well be the last democratically elected one.

Trump Mocks Disabled Reporter

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a term used to describe a manipulation tactic for gaining power. You might recognize it from the 1944 movie Gaslight in which a husband manipulates his wife until she believes she is losing her mind. Indeed, it's a technique used to make victims question their own reality.

Gaslighting is a technique used by abusers, as in the movie. However, it's commonly used by cult leaders -- and dictators.

Here are the techniques associated with political gaslighting, culled from Psychology Today and CNN:

  1. Blatant lying: Keeping you unsteady. It's a precedent -- you can't tell in the future what's truth and what's lie.
  2. Denial: The next step after lying -- denying it even though you know you heard what they said correctly. Gaslighters deny the lie so vehemently, though, that you begin questioning reality.
  3. Blaming others: When gaslighters are called on their lies and actions, they blame others for the "misunderstanding."
  4. Brushing off concerns: Another method political gaslighters use is disparaging concerns as "oversensitivity." They'll say their outrageous comments or actions were "just jokes."
  5. Accusing: Essentially it boils down to "I'm not the problem -- you're the problem."

Donald Trump has been doing this all along, ever since he announced his candidacy for the presidency.

For example, he mocked a disabled reporter. When confronted with the video (see sidebar) of the mocking, he denies he's mocking the disability. He says that's his rendition of what groveling looks like, not someone whose disability doesn't allow him to control his muscles.

His constant accusing of the media for being against him is well documented. He ran the tidal wave of "fake news" and tried to apply it to long-respected journals such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

PolitiFact outlines 17 accounts of Trump saying something then denying it. All of the instances are well-documented with video or reporting in long-respected newspapers.

So, let's just say this: Donald Trump is gaslighting the United States of America. He's trying to keep us so unbalanced that we can't keep track of what's going on in our highest offices.

Here's where we get to the conspiracy theory.

The Trump administration has been attacking democracy.
The Trump administration has been attacking democracy. | Source

Trump Coup

Could the Trump administration be enacting a political coup?

See results

Political Coup

On Friday, January 27, Donald Trump signed an executive order that immediately implemented an "extreme vetting plan" for people hoping to immigrate from seven countries:

  • Libya
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • Yemen
  • Somalia

All seven countries are predominantly Islamic, so the EO has been labeled a "Muslim ban."

Because the EO was put into immediate effect, chaos ensued at airports. People with visas and green cards were barred from entering the United States if they were from one of those countries. In some cases, they were even denied access to legal advice.

Despite the actions Trump had already taken (see list above), I was still shocked. I couldn't understand why the EO was being so hastily implemented. Didn't Trump and his advisors know the chaos that would ensue? (I wasn't shocked by the content of the EO itself -- nothing hate-oriented about Trump shocks me anymore.)

An editorial then surfaced written on what's not exactly a reliable website -- Medium. I scanned through it, and then I got very scared. Because the writer, Yonatan Zunger, did a good job of answering my why.

It all boiled down to Trump and his cabinet creating anarchy as a shield for their coup. Yes, I know that's fantastic conspiracy theory at its finest.

Consider this: The editorial proposes the rationale for Trump's coup as monetary. He can use his position as one of the most powerful men in the world to increase his wealth. He doesn't need to, of course. But ego is his driving force. When you're as wealthy as Trump, accumulating more wealth is simply a matter of showing off.

The editorial mentions "resistance fatigue." In other words, the American public will be unable to keep up with protesting all of Trump's outrageous acts.

Zunger also proposes that the Muslim Ban was a test of the system. How much could the administration get away with?

Well, we saw that the ACLU immediately sued Trump over the legality of the ban. They won the lawsuit. However, Trump fired the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates for "refusing to enforce" the EO. She had told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump's EO.

Trump then ignored the hierarchy and replaced Yates with an attorney, Dana Boente, who immediately promised to defend the EO. Protests have been raging in airports since the order was signed, but it's made no difference.

Frida Ghitis of CNN -- admittedly a more reputable media platform than Medium -- proposed an even scarier scenario for Trump's actions. Vladimir Putin has been gaslighting Russia for decades. He's created a shadow government and a system of political theater that he manipulates at will.

Here's the thing: It was well-documented that the Russian government interfered with the US election by releasing fake news about the democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. What's more, Trump has openly expressed his admiration of Putin:

"He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country."

So here's what keeps going round and round in my mind. Is it really so far-fetched to think that a 70-year-old billionaire who's gotten away with everything his whole life would stage a coup in the most powerful country in the world? He could do it for money or just for ego.

Maybe he's even being manipulated by politicos such as Steve Bannon and his own vice president, Mike Pence. Heck, Putin could well be pulling a string. Maybe Trump won't even care that he's being manipulated because it's all just one big reality TV show to him.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

— parliamentarian Edmund Burke
People have been protesting daily since Donald Trump was elected.
People have been protesting daily since Donald Trump was elected. | Source

Resisting Trump

I never liked politics in the first place because I felt so helpless. Now that I genuinely believe we have men in power who are trying to destroy democracy for their own gains, I feel completely powerless.

So, what can we do?

It's so hard to fight against gaslighting. So don't. What I mean is don't try to enforce reality on what Donald Trump, et al, are doing. They are lying. They are manipulating the public. They may eventually control the media. Don't try to separate truth from fiction -- it's all "alternative facts" now.

What we can do is continue to protest en masse. We must show the world, as we did with the highly successful Women's March, that we don't agree with Trump's policies.

We must continue to call our senators and representatives. I don't know how much they can actually do. However, we still technically have a democracy. They are supposed to work for our interests.

I think we must find a savior, especially for our dearly-held beliefs. For example, I've decided to throw my lot in with the ACLU. They were the first organization to find success against Donald Trump. I'm going to make donations and start volunteering.

Finally, we have to get organized. The Women's March website is proposing a series of small acts for the first 100 days. There are several Facebook groups that are mobilizing. Indivisible Denver is a local one for me. MoveOn is an example of a democratic group fighting back.

I want to get back to focusing on my hockey team and my family and my cat and my work and my friends and the other little loves of my daily life. However, I refuse to be a bystander while the Unites States of America endures a coup. I may not be able to do much, but I'm going to do what I can.

I hope you do, too.

© 2017 Nadia Archuleta

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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 3 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      On election day I told my three adult children that I was passing the torch to them. I'm exhausted having tried to hold back the tide for about 40 years. My eldest, a daughter, is taking the same first step you are: supporting the ACLU. I think that is a good start. But I'm looking on from the cheap seats these days, doing little more than venting here on HP. Not exactly a productive pursuit. I can't stand to watch the TV news, blaming them rightly or wrongly for the advent of Trump. I am still reading reputable mainstream newspapers, and will take what action seems to be effective if and when the time comes.

    • nArchuleta profile image
      Author

      Nadia Archuleta 3 months ago from Denver, Colorado

      I want to do that, too. But... I just can't.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    • lovemychris profile image

      Yes Dear 3 months ago from Cape Cod, USA

      saw this on twitter today:

      "when evil reigns supreme you must not seek power, but only do subversive goodness. as in this time everything is backwards"

      these peaceful protests are the perfect thing. i saw video of one somewhere....they were all just standing there silent. row after row. it was powerful as heck.

      fight, or retreat....power will do what it does

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      Yes, yes and yes! Excellent article on this out of control, very dangerous man. If there is a Muslim registry, I shall register in solidarity as a Muslim. I am writing every week to the White House to tell him what a fraud he is. I am writing my Congresspeople, donating to ACLU and NARAL. We are sinking and we've done it to ourselves.

    • honorablehedgehog profile image

      honorablehedgehog 3 months ago

      America was declining FAR before Trump. You know what shows America is declining? The family unit isn't important, nor babies' rights, nor Israel's right to defend itself, nor people the right to practice their religion without persecution.

    • honorablehedgehog profile image

      honorablehedgehog 3 months ago

      The world has been falling apart way before Trump. Hillary was the first one to mention fake news (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8qrjYjtXGY). Here are some stats on terrorism injuries: (https://www.statista.com/statistics/250564/number-... Here are stats on the ratings of the severity of countries with terrorism. (http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-global-terr... Donald Trump has issues, but his travel ban is appropriate no matter how inconvenient it is. These are casualties from terrorism.(https://www.statista.com/statistics/202871/number-... A video about ex-muslim secular woman standing up for her beliefs and condemning Islam(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqvskXCz-kk). ISIS is Islam by the way. Here's another (x muslimhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayQ-j8lJmwE)

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 3 months ago from Placentia California

      An excellent article and very well written. I did the research and analysis and Trump's behavior and actions mirror the classic symptoms of someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

      NPD plus his constant branding of his actions and then changing the branding makes him a very dangerous person to be in the position to govern the United States.

      His cabinet comprises "group think" people that think the way he does and includes many "yes men." This is also very dangerous because there is no one to dispute his decisions. It's either his way or the highway as evidenced by firing the acting Attorney General because she did not agree with his executive order. I don't think he is capable of changing. It is just not in his DNA...Keep up the good work.

    • honorablehedgehog profile image

      honorablehedgehog 3 months ago

      peoplepower73: Is Trump dangerous because he tells the truth about many things? The truth is our borders are bad, our economy is terrible,criminals should be deported back to where they belong if they are illegal, Federal laws are being violated with sanctuaries cities, Planned Parenthood is over funded, and putting America first should be our number one goal. Also ISIS follows the fundamentals of Islam, and we are at war with the violent people in Islam. A travel ban is a no brainer since we are at war.

    • honorablehedgehog profile image

      honorablehedgehog 3 months ago

      This comment (“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."), is not racist. I'm sure you understand crime has no race. Many humans of all races commit crimes. If the Canadians were committing crimes they should be deported too. The Mexicans happen to be on our border, and happen to be coming over to ours. Its a fact they bring drugs, rapists, and criminals. If its your opinion those are the only types of people that Donald Trump thinks come over the border, I think you underestimate his intelligence, which is no surprise since a lot of people thought he would never win the presidency. If he were racist, he would call every Mexican or border crosser bad in some way, since racism generalizes everyone of a certain background, but he didn't do that. He said he assumed some were good.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 3 months ago from Placentia California

      honorablehedgehog: I say it depends on your point of view. I say the economy is in good shape, you say it is terrible. Unemployment is down and we have recovered from a recession left by George W. Planned Parenthood is not funded from the federal government. It is funded by medicare and in turn medicare bills the government on a case by case basis. America has always been first. Lead from behind is a bumper sticker slogan. You said the travel ban is to keep violent Islam from entering our country. The problem is the seven countries that Trump named have never had terrorists attack our country. However, the people that attacked are country were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates.

      Like I said in the beginning, Your perception and mine are different because of the different news source that we watched and listen to. Are you right or am I? Are you getting fake news or am I?

    • profile image

      Setank Setunk 3 months ago

      How can eliminating excessive government regulation and extra-constitutional authority be construed as an assault on Democracy? Isn't Democracy the practice of rule by the people?

      Then again the U.S. is not, nor has it ever been, a Democracy.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Yes Dear 3 months ago from Cape Cod, USA

      he took kkk off the dangerous terrorist list. operation rescue isnt even on there. fox news and right wing media practice stochastic terrorism...(ask glenn beck.) its ok to lie if it gets you where you want to be...

      white christian nationalism in a first nation land is not going to work.

      this is the secret. go back and learn. study indigenous writings...THIS is original american history...and it can save us

    • profile image

      Wild Bill 3 months ago

      lovemychris said: "he took kkk off the dangerous terrorist list."

      Wrong! You liberals hate to check facts, so you just put it out there without even so much as a bit of research (like the MLK bust being removed story). You take advantage of your uneducated followers to print lies to brainwash them even more and then when you are proven wrong, you shrug your shoulders and move on to the next lie.

      Here is what Snopes said

      http://www.snopes.com/trump-terror-watch-program/

      I am also pretty sure that this comment will get deleted by the writer since it contains facts that contradict the liberal agenda.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Yes Dear 3 months ago from Cape Cod, USA

      it hasnt happened yet. stay tuned. and if kellyanne conjob gets a pass on her lies, i'll take one on something thats in the works.

      this story came from sources inside the wh that didnt want to be named.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Yes Dear 3 months ago from Cape Cod, USA

      uh oh...spicer just mentioned trumps committment to deal w radical islamic terrorism...STAY TUNED

    • profile image

      Wild Bill 3 months ago

      lovemychris said: "it hasnt happened yet. stay tuned. and if kellyanne conjob gets a pass on her lies, i'll take one on something thats in the works.

      this story came from sources inside the wh that didnt want to be named."

      Like I said earlier: "and then when you are proven wrong, you shrug your shoulders and move on to the next lie."

      Why do Liberals feel the need to use fear tactics to get their way. This is why the silent voters voted for Trump. Because whether it is violent protests after the election, the inauguration, or at UC Berkeley, you can't respect the results of a democratic election. We now know who the fascists are; the ones who want to keep the status quo in Washington.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Yes Dear 3 months ago from Cape Cod, USA

      dont you think sweeping generalizations about swaths of people are unproductive?

    • profile image

      Wild Bill 3 months ago

      lovemychris said: "dont you think sweeping generalizations about swaths of people are unproductive?"

      And that, my friends, is a classic case of moving the goal post. Anything to divert attention from the fact that you told a complete fabrication that was proven false.

      Can't you just admit that you are guilty of spreading a false story? Please show us that liberals can actually be good people and not violent thugs.

    • profile image

      John Ireland 3 months ago

      Your fears are not far-fetched. Wait until he calls for a constitutional convention or until the Supreme court disbands itself. I lived through those events in Venezuela. Trump is on the same course. In Venezuela, the press couldn't arrive at their offices without being stoned. Trump will organize that soon just as he organized his supporters to defend polling stations with their arms.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 months ago from Philippines

      This is an excellent article, well informed, and written compellingly. What I like best is that at the end of your article you have a clear set of proposals about what a person can do in the interim. Brava!

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