Linda Schuyler Horning: The divisiveness of Donald Trump
Abraham Lincoln preached 165 years ago, “Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature — opposition to it is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.” — October 16, 1854 Speech at Peoria.
Our nation continues to convulse, post slavery, post Jim Crow era, as we struggle with justice versus our selfish guardianship of white male privilege. As a young woman, I grew up knowing racial and sexual bias because that was my world. It wasn’t fair, but most laws and conventions supported it, so I lived within its confines.
The 1960s brought progress, a welcome relief to me, but not without societal convulsions in the form of riots and shootings of our more progressive leaders. Resistance to those changes have grown in my lifetime to a point where the pendulum is swinging back again.
Donald Trump counts on racial bias and misogyny to carry him through the next election. The problem is, even among those in his base, that pesky love of justice continually gets in his way. His supporters take exception to the Russians interfering in our elections, even if they are mostly white, and many citizens are not completely comfortable with Trump’s treasonous behavior at the Helsinki Summit. Nonetheless, I find the level of outrage sorely lacking.
How did Trump get away, for instance, with putting kids in cages? Do we still have enough love of justice among us to do what is necessary to remove this man from office?
The daily lies continue, so many that we’ve come to expect them. Who raised an eyebrow when Trump claimed full exoneration from obstruction of justice charges after Attorney General William Barr’s summary found exactly the opposite? Constant exposure to negative information such as this leaves us feeling powerless to try to stop it.
In February of 2015, The Huffington Post published science writer Carolyn Gregoire’s article describing research into human behavior. It said constant exposure to negative information can cause a process of either sensitization, in which individuals become more sensitive to emotional stress, or desensitization, “a sort of numbing process in which individuals become habituated to what they see.” The brain, the article explained, begins to exhibit less of an emotional response to disturbing stimuli. Are we being played?
It would make sense. Trump’s constant tweets and assaults against our most sacred institutions show an utter lack of discipline, as if he intends to offer us no rest from the barrage. The media can’t help but to publish or broadcast each incident in excruciating detail, forcing us to chew and swallow every bitter pill. We grow ever more saddened and jaded, knowing only one of Trump’s numerous transgressions would have thrown any former president out on his ear.
In Malcolm Nance’s book, The Plot to Destroy Democracy (2018), the author credits Trump as being “arguably the most divisive person to run for president since Abraham Lincoln — and,” he says, “we all know how that ended.” Yet Lincoln’s legacy lives on as one of our greatest former presidents, with both political parties having tried to claim him as one of their own. Chief among his qualities were his unquestionable honesty and integrity, and perhaps that is the biggest reason why Trump doesn’t deserve to leave office quietly.
Whereas Lincoln received a bullet in the head for all his trouble, Trump plans to reap billions at the expense of the American taxpayer while having systematically tried to destroy the nation he was elected to serve.
My love of justice, my sense of right and wrong, and my outrage at Trump’s brutish behavior prevent me from accepting that deplorable outcome.
Linda Schuyler Horning lives in Nevada City.
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