Book Review: Woodward, Bob, “Fear. Trump in the White House.” Simon & Schuster, New York, 2018
Most of the people who can read already have a low opinion
of Donald J Trump. What they find in Woodward’s careful documentation of White
House conversations is not likely to change many opinions. It will confirm, and
strongly confirm, those with the opinion that the President of the United
States is a lazy, prevaricating, egomaniacal, loose pistol with one finger on
his Twitter feed and the other on nuclear war.
The book extensively explains that Trump believes that power is fear. But I don’t think that’s the reason for the book’s title. I think Woodward is talking about the world’s fear for its own safety.
If one wanted to take Trump’s view of things, or if one yearned
for the vacuous “neutrality” nonsense to which most journalists pretend, then
one could credit Trump with being loyal to his original plan. In other words, he
really is against free trade, globalization, immigrants, and foreign
entanglements. If those ideas are twisted and spun well, a lot of Americans
would agree with him on those fundamentals. In fact, a lot of Americans voted
for him and will vote for him again.
The popular idea that any Democrat could beat Trump in 2020
is just as unreliable a belief as the 2016 national conviction, supported by
scientific polling, that he didn’t stand a chance against Hillary Clinton. Nobody
believed that Trump would take power, even though they had the clear precedent
from Nazi Germany.
Understanding Is Needed
It is not enough to dislike Donald J Trump as we prepare for
2020. It is not enough to quote Bob Woodward from this book to convince people
to look elsewhere for a president in 2020. If we are to make progress in the
2020 elections, we need to carefully explain what is happening and what must be
Certain truths need to be faced and understood. Begin with
the clear fact that we are reaching the end of America’s economic dominance. The
reasons for that dominance grew out of World War I and World War II. Those
reasons are long gone. American continues to dominate the world militarily, but
not economically. Donald Trump did not make that happen. He exploits it, but he
didn’t make it happen.
Springing directly from America’s waning economic domination
and continuing military domination is the growth of immigration numbers. After
all, if the United States hadn’t created the Syrian military crisis, millions
of people would have stayed home. In other countries, it may take two sentences
instead of one to explain why families leave home, but the military and
economic factors, both springing largely from the United States, are the root
cause. Donald Trump exploits that situation, but he didn’t create it.
Hitler exploited the 25% unemployment rate in Germany and
the failure of the social democrats to reform society. He didn’t create the
misery, but he exploited it.
Speaking of Hitler and Trump, it is especially important to
note that they had a lot more power afterward than they did when they were first
elected. Hitler was eventually able to do away with the German legislature
entirely. Trump hasn’t gone that far, but Trump and the Trump supporters have eroded
the power of the legislative branch. Their control over the judiciary is even
more obvious and more scary.
The Solution Goes Far Beyond Personalities
As 2020 draws near, progressive voters are asking, “Which Democrat has the best chance of beating Trump?” That question barely scratches the surface of what is needed. No one person, even a president, will change the underlying problems we face. The president that we elect, and all the down-ballot politicians that we elect, are going to have to contribute to actual solutions: organizing for fundamental change.
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