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O My America: Be Careful What You Wish For

Lawrence Bush
December 13, 2016

by Lawrence Bush

SO LET’S SAY the CIA presses the issue and Russia’s tampering with the American election proves irrefutably true and Donald Trump is revealed to have strong business connections with Putin’s Russia and so the Republicans impeach him. Would you rather have Mike Pence -- a proven rightwing ideologue with nothing but Republican opportunism written in his soul -- in the White House?

Or let’s say Boeing and Lockheed Martin put their heads together and convince their political flunkies that this man Trump is dangerous to their business, with his surprising obstinacy about the billion-dollar cost overruns. Would you support his impeachment over that?

We’ve had numerous crooks in the White House before: Ulysses S. Grant was getting drunk with dozens of ganovim (110 convictions for the Whiskey Ring scandal); Warren G. Harding shared the White House with the “Ohio Gang” of bribe-takers and embezzlers; Richard Nixon was a thief and a hoodlum, and his vice president was convicted of tax fraud; Ronald Reagan’s administration was shot through with financial scandal, including military contracting scandals that led to convictions for three deputy secretaries of the Navy, not to mention the Savings and Loan Crisis and Contragate — the latter of which forced President George H.W. Bush to grant clemency to three close advisors, Caspar Weinberger, Robert McFarlane, and Elliott Abrams; and so forth and so on.

We’ve had plenty of racists in the White House, too — most notably (since emancipation and the 13th Amendment) Woodrow Wilson, who segregated the federal government and proclaimed the “greatness” of the Ku Klux Klan, which in his day was violently disenfranchising and lynching African Americans; Calvin Coolidge, who signed the most racist immigration law in American history (1924) and dealt with the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 by flooding black communities to save white ones; Franklin Roosevelt, who forced 100,000 Japanese Americans into detention camps by executive order and allowed his New Deal programs, as well as the GI Bill, to discriminate against black Americans (not to mention his reluctance to press the saving of European Jews from Hitler); Dwight Eisenhower, who would not endorse Brown v. Board of Education and was slow to enforce it (telling Chief Justice Earl Warren that he understood why white Southerners didn’t want “their sweet little girls required to sit in school alongside some big black buck”); and Ronald Reagan, who mobilized the War on Drugs to mass-incarcerate black males at a time when drug use was on the wane, and also advocated social and economic policies that greatly increased black poverty.

Trump, by my lights, is no bigger a swindler or hate-monger than several of these other notables. He’s just much more of a lout, more disruptive to our expectations of what a rightwing president should sound like, and has more obvious personality problems (more obvious than Richard M. Nixon? George W. Bush? I’m no shrink). And Trump has aggravated us immensely by stealing the minds of working-class voters who, we assume, should be on our side, and by crassly liquidating the border between “serious” politics and media entertainment.

Oh, yes, I’ll be demonstrating on January 21st; oh, yes, he’s going to set back civil rights, civil liberties, and personal freedom by decades and for decades, especially through his Supreme Court appointments; oh, yes, he’s going to make the slowing of global climate change impossible; oh, yes, he’s going to gut the teachers’ and federal employees’ union — just you watch.

All of that just makes him an empowered Republican President. Which is plenty awful enough.

Here’s praying I don’t eat these “he’s-not-a-fascist” words, but I’m not losing sleep over Donald Trump. I’m just wrapping myself in the Constitution and getting ready for him.

Lawrence Bush edits Jewish Currents.

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.