A Year of Malice

image of Donald Trump sitting at his desk, surounded by a bunch of white men, who are standing and smiling, like the gross sycophants that they are

Today is the last day of Donald Trump's first year in office.

It is fitting, I suppose, that we are waiting to see if the government will be shut down today, because of Trump's incompetence and indecency, and the intolerable cruelty of his entire party — fitting, because one of the driving motivations of Trump's presidency has been breaking the federal government.

Breaking it by choosing to lead federal departments people who don't believe in the objectives of those departments, like Betsy DeVos. Breaking it by choosing to lead federal departments people who have no qualifications to lead those departments, like Rick Perry. Breaking it by ensuring no career bureaucrats with experience and decency would want to work for it anymore. Breaking it by creating warfare with intelligence agencies. Breaking it by wanton deregulation. Breaking it with ineptitude and malignity and laziness and corruption. Breaking it by starving it of resources. Breaking it intentionally.

He has also broken promises, broken his word, broken faith with people who inexplicably trusted him, broken families, broken people's wills, broken spirits.

People who have been broken by Trump over the last year are not weak. There's only so much any person can take. And some of us have already taken much more than others, like immigrants whose hearts have been broken as their families are broken apart.

Trump is animated by malice. He does not want the federal government to serve We the People. He wants the federal government to exist only to confer virtually limitless power to men like him, so that he can remake the country the way he wants it to be, by getting rid of the people he despises and forcing everyone else, the people he merely holds in contempt, to behave in service to his power and glory.

He subjects people to sustained fear, by ignoring real threats like climate change and creating real threats like the possibility of nuclear war. He thrives in the chaos that his recklessness creates, and wallows in the misery that his bigoted agenda causes.

He lies profligately, has no fixed principles beyond self-interest, can neither be cajoled nor shamed into doing the right thing. He expresses abundant hatred for anyone he views as the Other, and outsources the policy prescriptions for harming them to his sadistic vice-president Mike Pence, who delights in being the architect of official abuse while parading around in the mask of a pious man.

Trump is a despot, surrounded by sycophants and enablers. His party indulges and abets him. His base cheers and empowers him. The press normalizes him.

His rank disloyalty to the nation he is meant to be leading has spawned numerous investigations, none of which are anywhere close to disempowering him from continuing on this wicked path of demolishing everything all decent people value.

It has been a wreck of a year.

And I know I am supposed to invoke some silver lining about more women running for office, or people waking up to politics, or the resistance. But fuck that. I don't feel that way. There is no silver lining to this relentless garbage nightmare.

I believe the nation's first female president would have inspired more women to run for office, too, without the debasement of women as a cost of that increased engagement. I have no gratitude to people only waking up to politics now, when the republic is dangling on the edge of a fucking cliff. And everything good about the resistance existed long before Donald Trump.

Like this space. The reason it provides us solace now is because of the commitment to building beloved community and hard work put in for 12 years before that dirtbag took the oath of office he never intended to uphold.

I refuse to breathe life into any narrative that credits Trump for anything of value that existed long before his presidency or would have happened, anyway, with far less collateral damage.

We survive because of each other. And not because of a Russian nesting doll of character defects who substitutes for democratic governance subjecting us to things we must survive.

And I don't feel inclined to apologize for not finding anything good to say about the first year of Trump's presidency. I refuse to spin what's happening in order to give some false sense of hopefulness that everything will turn out okay in the end. Because maybe it won't.

Trusting that everything will be fine is what got us into this terrifying mess. One year in, and, from where I'm sitting, it looks a hell of a lot less like everything will be fine than it did one year ago.

I don't have to be unrealistic to be hopeful. I am still hopeful. But, more importantly, I am angry. And that anger fuels my commitment to resisting.

Donald Trump has spent the last year trying to break this nation. And the only thing I can say with any certainty at this point is that he hasn't yet broken me.


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