For the past two years of the Trump presidency, over and over again, I’ve thought to myself that we’ve hit rock bottom, that it can’t get any worse – it won’t get worse. Yesterday proved me wrong…again.
Donald Trump is showing us that we have no idea what the rock bottom of his presidency really looks or feels like. I thought “rock bottom” was when he basically defended white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, calling them “good people,” just days after they murdered and maimed innocent people in Charlottesville.
I thought “rock bottom” was the bigoted Muslim ban.
I thought “rock bottom” was ripping thousands of immigrant children from their parents and sending them away with strangers to over 20 different states. By the way, at least 2,500 children still remain separated to this very day – in violation of a court order to reunite them.
And I keep seeing people ask me, “why are you surprised?”
I’m not surprised. I’m appalled. I’m disgusted. I’m concerned. I’m flabbergasted. In the words of Drake, “I’m upset.”
We all knew that Donald Trump was a sincerely horrible human being before he was elected. He demonstrated as much over the long view of his entire life, but his power was limited when he was simply a schmuck on reality TV or front page photo on the tabloids.
Now he has the full weight and authority of the federal government behind him.
And even though every single intelligence agency in this nation, each headed up by his own conservative Republican political appointees, has declared that Russia infiltrated our 2016 election process not only by hacking into the emails and accounts of Hillary Clinton and the DNC, then selectively leaking information to damage her candidacy, but also targeting our actual voting rolls, stealing voter files, and so much more – in spite of the fact that lifelong conservative Robert Mueller just indicted 12 different Russian military officers – publicly naming them with their titles and roles – for their roles in that – even though a Russian spy who was basically embedded within the NRA was just arrested for espionage – in spite of all of that – Trump has continued to call it “fake news” and a “witch hunt” advanced only by his political opponents.
But yesterday took the cake.
After the 12 Russian military officers were indicted, many politicians and diplomatic experts actually demanded that Trump either cancel his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin or at least make it open to the public.
But Trump forged ahead nonetheless, had the meeting alone, and then stood before the world in what I think will go down in history as the most damaging, disastrous, disturbing press conference in presidential history. For the first time in perhaps his entire presidency, the bulk of Republicans and Democrats alike have united in their universal criticism of the moment.
The American media was allowed just a few questions of Trump in the press conference and they used each opportunity to ask masterfully formed questions – cornering him into giving either a clear answer – or completely shirking his responsibilities as the President of the United States. And Trump chose, over and over again, to shirk his responsibilities as President.
When told that every single intelligence agency of his own government believed that Russia hacked our election, and then asked whether he believed them or Putin, Trump went on a bizarre rant about Hillary Clinton’s servers and then said Putin was clear that Russia had no part in it and that he saw no reason why Russia would do such a thing.
It was stunning.
And some people have asked me why any of this matters to Black voters. Why should we care about what Trump thinks about Russia. And I understand the spirit of the question. While the nation reels from this issue, police brutality continues, racism and bigotry continue, immigrants and Muslims continue to be severely mistreated and maligned.
I get it, but this matters to us directly for several reasons. First, when elections are rigged, we lose first and last. Nobody is hurt more when Democrats are railroaded than we are. And what Trump pulled yesterday shows me is that if he can get away with what he has pulled with Russia, what in the world do you think he’s going to get away with abusing us, expanding private prisons, empowering racists and bigots – if he can get away with this – just imagine what he can get away with in Flint.
I’ll close with this thought.
We have to win the midterms this year, but it’s also time that we start really positioning ourselves for the 2020 presidential elections. It’s increasingly clear that this man is fully willing to accept outside help from foreign powers. And it’s clear they are willing to do whatever it takes.
Our Democratic mayors and governors and Secretaries of State have to make sure these elections are protected. We have to fight for automatic registration in every state where we have power. And we have to prepare to fight to win in all 50 states.
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