The Universal Notebook: Fear itself

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As the Trump White House continues to self-destruct amid ongoing investigations by the House, Senate and special counsel, and under attack from critics and former allies alike, I cannot imagine Donald J. Trump serving out his term in office. He clearly needs to be removed from office by any legal means.

The United States has lived in a constant state of fear since Trump’s surprise election, one we now know he and his campaign didn’t really want and weren’t prepared for. We see how unprepared he was every day.

My immediate fears are two: that Trump will somehow manage to serve four years and entirely ruin this country, and that we may not be prepared for what happens if he does not. Could Pence be even worse? Would a constitutional crisis plunge the country into chaos and violence?

Specifically, I have been afraid that Trump will try to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a man who is everything Trump is not – intelligent, honest, a veteran and a patriot. But lately I have been even more afraid that he won’t try to fire Mueller.

Should he pull such a stunt, Trump would set himself up for impeachment on the grounds of obstruction of justice. According to his former henchman Steve Bannon, the Trump team is already guilty of collusion, obstruction and treason, but dismissing Mueller would seal the deal for most people. Even our feckless Congress would not stand for it, especially as tens of millions of Americans are prepared to take to the streets within hours of Mueller’s firing.

Trumpian trolls and trollops, however, are experts at neutralizing the fact-finders. Anyone who might disclose the truth about Trump’s insane clown posse – the mainstream media, the intelligence community, the scientific community, the courts – is portrayed to Trump’s base as biased against him, part of a vast dark-state conspiracy against the paranoid self-dealing that is Trump. So we can expect that sad, sorry 32 percent to defend their dear Donald to the dead end that is Trump America.

As long as Trump is in office, the rest of us must live in fear that this ignorant, illiterate and immature man will start wars in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula simply because he can’t keep his tweeter in his pocket. Will the MAGA Red Hats recognize their mistake when people start dying for Trump’s foolhardiness? I doubt it.

We must also live with the knowledge that Trump and his GOP co-conspirators in Congress are, at this very moment, dismantling the social-service network, the health-care system, the consumer and environmental protections and the business regulations that protect the American people from people like Donald J. Trump.

They have already pulled the rug out from under the Affordable Care Act and passed a huge tax break for the corporate rich by calling it tax reform. And they are destroying the very foundations of democracy and undermining the rule of law by refusing to take seriously foreign threats to our election process and by refusing to accept that Trump lost the popular vote, instead impaneling a voter fraud commission that itself was a fraud.

I have written on more than one occasion that Trump’s election was a triumph for ignorance and prejudice, but more than anything it was a victory for fear. Now Trump panders to those fears daily, resorting to campaign mode in order to gin up support for his unprincipled and dysfunctional administration, rather than leading the United States.

People voted for Donald Trump almost entirely out of fear. They suffer from a fear of foreigners, a fear of immigrants, a fear of minorities, a fear of gay people, a fear of Muslims, a fear of women, a fear of losing white male privilege, a fear of their own failures, a fear of being at the bottom of the barrel, a fear of losing their firearms, a fear of their own government and a fear of God.

Frightened people need strong authority figures. They need tough love. They need someone to tell them what to do. They thought they saw that in Trump when what they were looking at was a phony, a petty tyrant, a bully. Now we have all had to live for a year with the daily shame and fear of knowing that our president is unqualified and unstable and that, far from Making America Great Again, he is making America an international laughingstock.

If Trump were an honorable man, he would acknowledge his ineptitude and resign ahead of impeachment. My guess is that he’d like to do just that, but he’s afraid to do so.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.