Trump Is Not The Enemy

Plaid Shirt Guy making faces at the Montana Donald Trump rally. Image Capture by TNB.

Reading through the comment section on this site or scrolling through commercials from the Lincoln Project, one might suspect that Donald J. Trump is the greatest enemy this country currently faces. The notion is demonstrably false.

Trump is a danger, to be certain; his recklessness, fecklessness, ignorance, ego, corruption and subservience to anti-American foreign leaders combine to create a package that is utterly catastrophic in a putative President. The greatest danger, though, is nationalism. The philosophy used by Trump to reach his current station is of greater concern because it holds the potential to be a significant factor in American politics long after Trump and his reputation have been relegated to history’s cesspit.

Proof exists in the form of Great Britain.

While much has been made – with good reason – of Sweden’s decision to pursue an “open” strategy to deal with the Coronavirus crisis, they at least have the excuse of trying something which hadn’t been done before: addressing the infection before it became widespread in the country and doing so using voluntary restrictions. No, Sweden did not initiate a lockdown, but they engaged in an aggressive education campaign, encouraged public sanitation, distancing, and took public action to discourage gatherings. They wished to see if they could keep the new cases within their capacity to handle with their health care system, without suffering the massive damage to their economy that a shutdown would bring.

Great Britain has no such excuse. They have instead engaged in actions similar to those of the United States and Brazil: at first, their leadership insisted that the coronavirus was not a grave danger to their country. Then, as the disease spread, their Prime Minister was ignoring the advice of his own health experts.

“I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands,” he said. “People obviously can make up their own minds but I think the scientific evidence is … our judgment is that washing your hands is the crucial thing.”

The guardian

This public bravado was important: it signaled to his followers that concerns about the illness were overblown, perhaps being stated publicly for political gain. That bravado disappeared when he came down with covid-19 a few days after shaking hands with patients. He has since admitted that without constant monitoring from two nurses by his bedside and a few instances of forced oxygen, he would have died.

Now, just a few weeks after his recovery, the United Kingdom is expected to start opening up their country again. The projected date is the 11th, Monday.

The reasons for this are both economic and social.

Economically, the UK is in a bind. They have recently pushed through Brexit, with nationalists seizing control of their country’s traditional conservative party and conjuring images of a revitalized Britain free of not only the puppet strings of the EU but also foreign accents. Even without the racial undertones which sometimes accompany such notions, the demonizing of those not British-born has been repeatedly demonstrated among the more aggressive Brexiteers. The leaders appealed to those normally free of jingoism by stressing the dream of economic prosperity once Brexit happened. It was a false hope, one which was doomed by the selfishness of a similarly nationalist America – the United States, under Trump, would not dream of taking significant economic loss in the short run just to support an ally – but it at least held the potential for success. The covid-19 crisis has revealed just how thin that potential was. There is now considerable pressure on the government to restart businesses. The economic catastrophe which was risked by Brexit is now a certainty, and a need is seen to minimize as best they can the scope of eventual devastation.

The social aspect is simple, and consists of two factors. One is what we have seen in the United States: people who have been conditioned to not believe in the severity of a crisis are unlikely to support draconian efforts to combat that crisis. The UK’s second factor is that of neighboring countries’ success. British citizens are watching as places like Germany and Austria conduct partial openings and demanding their leadership act in a similar fashion.

This decision flies in the face of reason. The EU countries which are loosening their restrictions are doing so because it is plausible they have the virus under control. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, remains overwhelmed. They account for more than 30,000 of the world’s deaths from the virus; added with the nearly 75,000 from the United States, those two countries have seen more than a third of the worldwide fatalities. It is apparent neither have responded correctly, and that without a drop in their mortality figures that neither have seen (rather, there have been plateaus despite lockdown efforts) any effort to ease restrictions is embracing the death of more citizens.

Boris Johnson, having experienced the virus, has no excuse. He is personally aware of the sensation of having one’s lungs fill with fluid, of drowning while laying in bed. He’s moving forward anyway because he feels he has no other option which might provide him a viable political future.

At the core of his decision is nationalism. In this philosophy, the individual gains worth in proportion to their devotion to a group, with that group self-defining as the only true advocates for their country. While patriotism provides a set of standards which a person may be encouraged to hold, nationalism demands conformity and the loss of identity. In such a system, people become faceless, easy to abandon in the name of the greater good.

The UK government recognizes they’re damning thousands more of their citizens to early deaths, but at least the pressure on their public health and retirement payouts will be eased. They are hoping that those citizens who don’t lose family or friends will be eager to absorb the loss of life in exchange for personal comfort and fiscal benefit.

This political view has long been recognized as an existential threat to the guiding American principles. It formed the root of our differences with the Soviet Union and communist China. Its embrace by the Republicans under Trump must never be excused or forgotten, and no Republican who has allied themselves with the party’s nationalist faction – which is to say, the vast majority of them – should ever again be allowed authority in any level of government.

Trump will almost certainly be gone in November. His enablers, vocal and reluctant alike, must follow.

About the opinions in this article…

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.