Act One: He is raised by father who teaches him one goal (winning), one value (loyalty), and one god, himself. His father sets an example of paying off power brokers and building a business that rolls over the poor, non-whites, and anyone else in his way.
Act Two: He follows the rubric that power trumps righteousness, lies trump truth, and he is the most important person in any room. He declares bankruptcy six times, each time leaving with more money for himself and zilch for others. He builds a career based on lies, broken promises, and corruption.
He runs for President from the right on a platform of arrogance, white supremacy, and lies.
“They say I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” he said .“It’s like incredible.”
Normal people scoff, but white supremacists and fascists cheer. He insults a national war hero. “Tisk. Tsk” say Republican as they leave the hero behind. His next opponent – equally arrogant, but more disconnected – calls his followers “Deplorables”, which only galvanizes them. He fakes Republican orthodoxy and patriotism, sucking in legitimately conservative Republicans. He lies. He ridicules the disabled, women, non-Christians.
His slogan, “Make America Great Again”, is brilliant not for what it says, but for its hidden promise – a return of white supremacy. Racists swoon. Fascists roar. Dictators reach out in camaraderie. He is elected President.
As the curtain falls, America shudders.
Act Three: Republicans nationwide support and encourage each act of infamy as he sweeps experienced, qualified members from the government like scattered trash: National Security Adviser H.R McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohen, White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter and so many more. He replaces them with sycophants and shysters.
He weaponizes the web. He applies Hitler’s and Goebbels’ “Big Lie” strategy – tell a lie so outrageous, no-one will believe it’s a lie; then repeat, repeat, repeat. The press – all but Fox News – becomes Fake News. His attacks are relentless.
His fans buy into his Big Lie. Republican Senators and Representatives applaud each move, in abject displays of loyalty to him, but also in pursuit of their personal goal: to keep and grow their power. McConnell single-handedly rebuilds the Justice system to his design. Racist state leaders continue suppressing minority votes. Crooked politicians line their pockets with inside trading as he lines his with hotel rentals to foreign and local leaders and his kids’ with sweetheart business deals.
Institutions crack at the edges and more. The EPA is neutered, the CDC weakened and politicized, the FBI brought to heel, the State Department undercut. Allies are insulted, alliances broken.
When the 100 year pandemic arrives, carefully laid plans for it have been tossed, experts dismissed. Instead of leading the struggle, he focusses on re-election. States are left on their own like lifeboats from the Titanic. He turns health safety measures into political statements; his faithful reject facemasks, social distancing, and personal hygiene out of loyalty, endangering everyone else.
20 million sick, 360,000 deaths – and mounting. 30 million out of work.
His small lie count passes 10,000.
When he loses to Biden, he turns to another Big Lie: the election was stolen from him.
60 judges rule against him. He repeats this Big Lie on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. They do virtually nothing to stop him. Even so, the country moves toward the new president.
So he commits treason.
He exhorts his followers to physically attack Congress and overturn the election on the very day it is certifying the votes. They storm the Capitol packing pipe bombs. They chase Senators and Representatives into hiding, replace the American flag with a Trump flag, and desecrate history. Four people die.
Yes, it is incredible. Really.
At first he hides in the White House and watches on TV. Then he tells his followers to stop even as he repeats the Big Lie.
As the drama ends, the world’s brightest democracy struggles for breath. A few shreds of decency float around the Capitol grounds: Congress comes out of hiding and certifies Biden as the next President; faint voices are heard discussing the 25th Amendment or impeachment as a way of restoring dignity and credibility to the government.
And the rest of us, trapped into this theater of the absurd, say in shock and dismay:
“Trump Exits, Stage Right. Forever.”