A WARNING by Anonymous

Book Review by Michael Fruitman

You’ve no doubt already read elsewhere the more newsworthy excerpts from this book, but it is worth reading in its entirety. It goes far beyond the regrettable details of the President’s daily life in the White House–from refusing to read more than a page (at most) of anything, to arriving in the Oval at 10 a.m. (at the earliest). It is, to be sure, a warning about the dangers of electing a President simply to “shake things up,” but also much more: an incredibly well-written treatise on where we are as a civil society and what we must do to set things right.  

Trumpism has become more dangerous than Trump himself.

To this reader’s way of thinking, Trumpism has become more dangerous than Trump himself. I believe the chain links thus: those lacking money, jobs, hope, and self-esteem envy but resent those whom life seems to have smiled upon … and the traits that define them. Reading, culture, good English–they reject these because they believe they are less than because they lack them, and believe others look down upon them for the same reason. Such reactions are gut-level, not rational: that’s why they bathe in Trump’s combativeness, seeing it as a proxy for themselves. To make matters worse, even newcomers–immigrants–enjoy a greater share of the common weal. Supporters are not dismayed by his ignorance. Remember former D.C. mayor Marion Barry? The poor loved his “F— the man” attitude, because it spoke for them, to adversaries they believed could not care about them and offered them nothing. 

In today’s America, such feelings are creating the haves and the have-nots, even more so in belief than in reality. But the blunder is the belief that the President, beyond speaking for the downtrodden, actually cares for them and can help them. He does not, so we have people voting against their economic interests.

The Trump ego drives all.

The irony is that the President himself is one of the unhappy, low-self-esteem individuals whose position of power allows him to unleash anything imaginable, creating the kind of administration unheard of in its chaos and actions. The Trump ego drives all. One notable manifestation: his weakness for strongmen. Putin, Kim–ah, if only he could be a dictator! It’s one thing to analyze where this might have come from, but another to realize that he truly wants to be like them. 

In warning America, Anonymous is transparent about how he evaluates the President. One measure is character, which he defines in four ways: wisdom, sense of justice, courage, and temperament. He offers enough examples to conclude that this President is deficient in all of these areas. We have seen how truth and honesty don’t matter.

Another danger that we are warned about is Trump’s “assault on democracy.” This is not mere hyperbole. The degree to which the President cares not about the functioning of democracy–laws, fairness, truth, oversight–is made that much more frightening by how his minions have adopted these norms as their own. People talk about how the Congress or even the courts should just get out of the way and let the President do what he wants. The Bill of Rights? The Constitution? I wouldn’t want to put them to a vote today. 

Why do otherwise “normal” politicians keep supporting Trump? There are three reasons: power, tribal allegiance, and fear.

Anonymous also answers a vexing question: why do otherwise “normal” politicians keep supporting Trump? There are three reasons: power, tribal allegiance, and fear. The President is therefore left with the weakest of the weak. Anonymous also takes himself to task: “Anyone aiding the Trump administration is, or was, one of his Apologists. They’ve all waited too long to speak out and haven’t spoken forcefully enough. Myself included.”

Ultimately, however, Anonymous charges us with fixing what’s wrong. “If we want to remedy our political strife in the long run,” he says, “it will not happen with a single Election Day…. The solution is not in Washington, DC.” 

“Our representatives are not the source of Washington’s problems. We are the ones who pick them…. When we are willing to compromise, our representatives are, too. When we are angry and unyielding, partisan and greedy, they will display the same traits….” 

Ultimately, however, Anonymous charges us with fixing what’s wrong. “If we want to remedy our political strife in the long run,” he says, “it will not happen with a single Election Day…. The solution is not in Washington, DC.” 

“Our representatives are not the source of Washington’s problems. We are the ones who pick them…. When we are willing to compromise, our representatives are, too. When we are angry and unyielding, partisan and greedy, they will display the same traits…. Lasting change will require deeper, nationwide self-reflection. It will require us … to consider who we were, who we are, and who we want to be.

“My warning: … we must do what other civilizations could not–survive the ages–and bend the arc of the moral universe toward freedom.” I think he–or she–is right.



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