Dear Readers: Upon reflection of our nation’s 240th birthday, I feel compelled, as a member of the media, to bring you this editorial wake-up call.
“America Gets What America Is” was the last sentence in a prescient article I posted on The Robin Report, September 15, 2015, Trump Will Win the Nomination. The blog predicted, early on, that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination. One of the major reasons I cited was that he was the image and likeness of the famed WWE (remember folks, that’s World Wrestling Entertainment) hero, Hulk Hogan, who pummeled his opponents into mush, breaking all the rules of the (fake) sport to win. Hogan’s and Trump’s Americans alike love and hail such strong-arm tactics, and don’t seem to care whether they break the rules, as long as the Hulk and The Donald put on a good show and win over whatever and whomever they’re up against — the tougher, the better.
And just to add more validity to my wrestling metaphor, the President tweeted a video of himself over the weekend pounding and pummeling “CNN” next to a wrestling ring, in which even the referee (fake) appears to be knocked out. Trump may call this a joke, to be funny. Even if this were a rare occurrence for him, the first time tweeting with the intent to get a chuckle out of us, in my opinion it isn’t funny. And particularly following hundreds of “attack” tweets, this is just another violent rant on the media. Not at all funny.
But wait, don’t those wrestling fans realize that the sport is a scripted show and not reality? Hmmm, it does make one wonder if Trump’s entire life has not been one big scripted show. And the big current (final?) act is his becoming President. Indeed, the “world is now his stage.” Is this reality for him or is it just another show? Is it a fake Presidency, like his “fake media accusations?” As with professional wrestling, can Trump’s Americans honestly believe this is all real? Sadly, I believe his core constituents do believe it, and because they do, so does he.
My prediction aside, yes, he not only won the nomination, he is now our President. But yell and scream all you want (unless you are among his core constituents). The greater tragedy is what does Donald Trump as our President say about America, and, therefore, us as Americans? It does say America got what America apparently is. In other words, I believe it points to our nation’s moral and ethical compass, which has been collapsing, and continues spinning downward to the point at which we are either becoming numb to, or we just have accepted lying, cheating, bullying and the abject personal degradation of others as a justifiable means to winning. And just winning isn’t enough for this President. As he exemplifies so well, there must be losers, battered and beaten down in his wake. He lies with impunity, as the New York Times so carefully catalogued in their June 23rd issue, Trumps Lies. And the lying just continues.
Why do we allow such dangerous behavior in the most powerful office in the world? The same question was asked many times over and over about why no one of importance in the financial world was held accountable for some of the borderline and actual fraudulent activities that led to the Great Recession. My answer has to do with our declining moral and ethical compass, which I believe is, in part, a result of poor parenting and lack of academic and community leadership. Our President, as our nation’s leader, is being allowed to manipulate the compass to point that we are getting lost. What message does this send to our children? Is it really okay to lie, cheat or bully — if that’s what it takes to win?
Who Really Cares?
A big part of that answer comes from the hallowed halls of academia. Many surveys have been conducted over the years to understand the extent of cheating that goes on in our schools, and why such behavior exists. One such survey conducted by Rutgers University Business School among 14,000 undergraduates over a four-year period found that about two-thirds of the students admitted to cheating on tests, homework and assignments. The common justification was to level the playing field, as they watched their peers cheating and getting ahead for doing so.
Following are some comments made by those students:
- “I actually think cheating is good. A person who has an entirely honest life can’t succeed these days.”
- “We students know that the fact is we are almost completely judged on our grades. They are so important that we will sacrifice our own integrity to make a good impression.”
- “I believe cheating is not wrong. People expect us to attend 7 classes a day, keep a 4.0 GPA, not go crazy and turn in all of our work the next day. What are we supposed to do, fail?”
- “What’s important is getting ahead. The better grades you have, the better school you get into, the better you’re going to do in life. And if you learn to cut corners to do that, you’re going to be saving yourself time and energy. In the real world, that’s what’s going to be going on. The better you do, that’s what shows. It’s not how moral you were in getting there.”
Indeed, who cares? The media certainly does, and we are all shouting out against Trump’s lies and disgusting personal attacks on anyone who slights him in the most menial way. And thank God we are. The freedom of the press is one of the most treasured American values and in many ways, the fundamental basis of our independence.
The Republicans Better Care Big Time
From a purely political perspective, if Trump’s behavior continues, and there has been no reason to believe it will not, it will severely detract from getting the important legislation done that the Republicans ran on in the 2016 election. And if this happens, they will lose big time in the mid-term elections. What’s tragic is there doesn’t seem to be any major coordinated attempt on their part to reign in Trump’s behavior or to sideline him. Although it’s likely he would rebuff such a move anyway. We will have to wait and see if special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation will provide reason for another option.
The Real Danger
As he builds his reputation daily around the world through his tweets of lies and personal assaults on all who dare to criticize him in any way, Trump has already eroded the level of trust required for the President of the United States to lead America, to partner with our allies and to maintain the cautious respect of our enemies.
And the real danger is twofold: This is not a scripted reality show. First, if our constitutional balance of powers cannot keep Trump in check, and he somehow succeeds in chipping away at gaining more authority, meanwhile sidelining his enemies, including the media, our democracy is at risk. Secondly, what happens when (not if) a real enemy like the “nut job” running North Korea makes a disparaging remark that catches our President in one of his more insecure moments and he feels cornered? How will he lash out? Will it go beyond a tweet storm to overreacting with a military confrontation?
We don’t know, because our erratic President’s behavior has been consistently inconsistent and dangerously unbelievable, as in, today’s lie is trumped by tomorrow’s lie.
None of this is talk show host funny. It is real, real scary.