Outrage fatigue is not an option
While the president has publicly faced allegations from two dozen women, this book reveals another 43 allegations of alleged inappropriate behavior, including 26 instances of unwanted sexual contact.
In this case, the major media outlets didn’t even bother to shrug, rather they didn’t pay attention at all. Forty-three new allegations. On top of the two dozen who already courageously had come forward. And that’s where it all begins, for me. I can’t get past it.
Dozens of women publicly accused Trump of misogynistic predations, and then 63 million people voted to make him president. And the overall credibility of those accusations is not in doubt, because just a month before the 2016 presidential election Trump was heard on an audio recording bragging about molesting women. Bragging! And then 63 million people voted to make him president. Some of the people who voted for Trump regret it, and a small number still may be reachable, but to be taken seriously every one of them must look in a mirror and ask themselves how they managed to vote to make president someone they’d heard bragging about molesting women. Those with no regrets are not reachable on any plane of basic human decency.
Of course, just hours after that audio recording of Trump bragging about molesting women was made public, the Russian attacks on Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton, ramped up, the timing of which was no coincidence. And the major media outlets proceeded to chase that Russian bait like meth addicts after sugar. Or meth. Missing the real story for a distraction enabled by a hostile foreign power. Again. Because missing the real story has defined the major media outlets’ behavior with Trump; and without this media disaster the Trump disaster never would have happened in the first place.
Donald Trump is credibly accused of being a Russian asset. This is not fiction. This is not a drill. The evidence has been hiding in plain sight all along, for years. Almost everything Trump does ties into it. He is weakening the United States and playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands. Again and again and again. Even Trump’s Ukraine extortion scandal, which rightfully got him impeached, is about Russia. It may be no exaggeration or hyperbole to say that the Russians literally own him. And when Trump’s personal fixer shut down the investigations into this unprecedented and historically dangerous scandal, the media again mostly shrugged and turned away. And the Republicans declared Trump exonerated. Which he explicitly wasn’t.
As the impeachment process over Trump’s Ukraine scandal heated up, Megan Garber wrote in the Atlantic:
And here is the key question at hand—did Donald Trump extort a U.S. ally for his own political gain?—chafing against the other questionable matters not being addressed in the hearing: the reported frauds, the well-documented lies, the atmospheric fact of Trump’s bigotries. The precision guiding the House inquiry—bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors—is constitutionally mandated; it is a proportional response. Watching it play out, however, is a little like watching Hannibal Lecter getting tried for tax evasion.
Here is another matter left largely unaccounted for in the proceedings: Donald Trump, currently accused of bribery, has also been accused of rape. He has been accused of other forms of sexual misconduct as well, by more than 20 women, their allegations ranging from kissing to groping and grabbing, all against their will. If you include allegations of nonphysical forms of sexual harassment, the number of accusers grows even larger. The president has, in reply to these claims, issued a blanket denial: The people making accusations against him, he has said, are lying. (That list includes, ostensibly, Donald Trump himself, who has made his own claims about assaulting women: “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”)
And that Ukraine scandal continues to unfold, with new damning revelations being revealed almost daily. Trump tried to bully and extort a vulnerable foreign ally into smearing his domestic political rival, and it’s not that Moscow Mitch McConnell and the Republicans don’t care, it’s that they’re desperately trying to help Trump get away with it.
With any other administration, in any other era, this all would be mind-blowing. In any other era, the complicity of the Republican Party in these outright attacks on American national security and the very fabric of Republican government likewise would be mind-blowing. But the outrages and depredations and evidence of unprecedented criminality accumulate at such a furious pace that it’s almost impossible to keep up, and everyone of good intent becomes so exhausted it’s hard to try anymore. That’s by design. That’s how democracies and republics are destroyed. The unthinkable is normalized until what should be normal is unthinkable.
Even a partial list of the damage wrought by Trump and the Republicans would have ended any previous administration and any previous political party. Both through incompetence and intent, they’re undermining national security, again serving Russia’s goals. National security breaches are now so common that their accumulation goes almost unnoticed. Trump is dismantling government and the very bases by which any credible government can function. He even shut it down altogether on a petty bully’s whim. Trump hands out security clearances to anyone he pleases, including to his nitwit daughter and son-in-law, flouting the opinions and warnings of national security experts. Trump also flouts the opinions of career Pentagon officials, rewarding war criminals, and thus making the committing of the most heinous war crimes a path to career advancement.
Trump not only signals his approval to white supremacists, he hires them into the White House as his closest advisors. His racism and misogyny are now government policy. His vile, hateful Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are casually open. From tearing families apart to getting children killed at the border, his viciousness toward immigrants, refugees, and to the LGBTQ communities just underscore his and his political party’s entire ethos: The cruelty is the point!
Trump’s mockery of the emoluments clause of the Constitution is an unprecedented scandal, but Republicans do not care that he is using the presidency for personal financial gain. Trump’s Cabinet and inner circle have been littered with a variety of scandals, and Republicans do not care. Even within its limited scope, the investigation into the Trump/Russia conspiracy has resulted in dozens of people being indicted, found guilty, or pleading guilty for various crimes, and Republicans do not care. He’s packing the courts with unqualified extremist judges, and for that Republicans will let him burn the government down. They eagerly participated in the sham vetting of a Supreme Court nominee who belongs in court, not on one.
Beyond the scandals and crimes and cruelty and general mayhem, Trump’s basic political policies also are tearing the nation apart. He’s exploded the wealth gap, done nothing about the gun violence crisis, and is making all Americans less safe by destroying decades of environmental protections. But it’s even worse. Much worse. At the end of a year that featured the hottest month on the global record, was among the three hottest years on record, and concludes what was probably the hottest decade on record, Trump helped scuttle the Madrid COP25 international climate talks. Of all his many outrages, what could be worse? It’s only the most important issue humanity has ever faced, and he is actively making the crisis even worse. Have no doubt that future historians will consider this, too, a crime against humanity.
Every bit of this is an outrage. Not one bit of it should be forgotten. And none of it should be accepted as normal. Even within the previous range of the Republican Party’s decades of drift into far-right extremism, none of this is normal. Republicans used to try to hide what they really were doing. They no longer do. Trump has torn off the mask of their extremism, just as he has torn off the mask of the racists, misogynists, and other multilayered bigots who have become the base of the Republican Party.
It’s overwhelming. The major media outlets are mostly too incompetent or compromised to keep up. Even when individual reporters expose important information, the big picture inevitably is lost in the toxic fog. And then there is their reflexive, habitual need to bothsidesism anything and everything, to create a balance even when the facts don’t provide one. Especially when the facts don’t provide one. But all persons of intelligence must remain alert. All persons of conscience must remain determined. The nation is under attack. Democracy is under attack. The republic is under attack. The future itself is threatened in unprecedented ways, to unprecedented degrees. This is not a time for despair. This is not a time for fatigue. This is a time for focus and determination.
One fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats want to make the world a better place for everyone, while Republicans want to destroy all with which they disagree, including that which they don’t understand, which is a lot. Donald Trump received neither a majority nor even a plurality of the votes in 2016, and his unpopularity has been consistent and historic. This is not sustainable. It is not acceptable. This is not the will of the people.
Republicans are trying to destroy democracy and the republic themselves. From gerrymandering to voter suppression they are ramping up to lock democracy down. Even as Russia ramps up its efforts again to attack the very basis of American governance, Trump and Republicans are trying to open the doors to welcome it. That was what last summer’s Trump/Ukraine scandal was about. That was what the 2016 Trump/Russia scandal was about. Republicans will lose a fair election, so they welcome even a hostile foreign power’s assistance in ensuring that there won’t be one. But knowing this should not leave anyone daunted or discouraged. Far more corrupt and repressive regimes all around the globe are being challenged by brave popular uprisings. That is the real tide of history. That should leave everyone inspired.
After millennia when they didn’t even consciously exist, the yearnings for self-determination and democratic governance are now fundamental to modern human consciousness. Some fear it, and the most debased and depraved see it as a threat. And those who do want to destroy it. But they are in the minority. Know that. You are not alone. Know that. The tide of history is on your side. Demographics are on your side. Basic human decency is on your side. This nation is at a historic crossroads. Outrage fatigue is not an option.