For months, we’ve been hearing about the privately expressed opinions of people who work with Trump, describing him as a moron, an idiot, or being “like a child.” The recent book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff has put these descriptive words back into the spotlight.
Lumping Trump with the idiots and morons and children is grossly unfair to such people. Worse, it misses the real point.
Idiots and morons may have in common with Trump the lack of intelligence required for making good decisions in a complex world.
Children may, like Trump, lack the kind of good judgment that should be a requisite of being the leader of the world’s most powerful nation.
But if we had a moron, an idiot, or a child serving as President, we would not see a dangerous consistency that’s visible in Trump’s decision-making: virtually every decision that Trump makes takes things in a wrong direction.
Trump never shows the sweetness that seems to characterize, for example, those with Down’s Syndrome. Nor the kindness or compassion that children regularly show.
If Trump were simply to flip a coin every time he made a decision — to decide between two options, one of which makes the world more whole and one that makes it more broken — what a different picture his presidency would present. Different– and better.
No, with Trump, the coin always comes up for the more broken option. That’s been true for
- climate change,
- income and wealth inequality,
- the war on drugs,
- delivering needed health care to American citizens,
- breaking up families of undocumented immigrants,
- respecting the norms of our democracy,
- maintaining and building international order,
- respecting and using the knowledge of experts,
- keeping the impact of corporate power consistent with the common good,
- protecting the interests of workers in the unequal power relationship with their corporate employers,
That list could, of course, be expanded. But just taking that list of 10 items, the chance of coming up on the wrong side every time would be 2 to the 10th power. Which is less than a 1 in 1,000 chance.
But that’s what we’e had with Trump. Not by chance, but clearly by some aspect of his nature– an aspect that does not characterize morons, or idiots, or children.
The salient thing about Trump is his inclination toward making things broken, toward destroying. What is salient, in other words, is that he is a channel for what might be called “evil” as a force in the world.
Maybe the ultimate rescue of America from this terrible man will be through the 25th Amendment, in which it will be his incapacity that is the identified characteristic used to justify his removal. Maybe the idiot-moron-child characterization will prove useful for laying the foundation for some such rescue, down the road.
But ultimately, what makes Trump truly dangerous is not his incapacity, but his reflexive inclination toward evil.