There is method to Donald Trump’s madness. He and his political advisers know exactly what they are doing.
They may not know how to lead an effective, ethical government, or how to make Americans safer or more prosperous. But they do know how to use lies to manipulate what Americans think, to pit us against one another, and to pervert our democracy to attain power.
The Trump regime lies intentionally on matters big and small. The lies are served up rapid fire to beget bigger lies and create two opposing worlds: one of truth; the other of lies, fantasy, and “alternative facts.”
Steve Bannon’s attack on the media as “the opposition party” was calculated to force the media to repeat that charge, and reinforce Trump’s edict not to trust credible sources. Meanwhile, Trump attacks CNN and The New York Times while signaling his supporters to tune into Fox News where they can find Trump-approved “alternative facts.”
Behind the scenes, the Trump regime has ordered a media blackout of government agencies, gagged government scientists and erased government web pages with data that disprove his lies on topics like climate change. The next play to better monopolize the news will be gutting federal funding of non-partisan, public news sources like NPR, PBS and Voice of America.
Trump has already moved on to bigger lies, like questioning the integrity of our elections. This makes people less likely to participate, and allows GOP-controlled states to pass voter identification laws that are designed to target likely Democratic voters who don’t always have the means to meet these onerous new standards.
None of this works without Trump’s latest lie: that immigrants are our enemies. He needs someone for Americans to hate, and immigrants are the perfect scapegoat. That’s why he launched his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers, and issued a Muslim ban before proposing a jobs bill. Walls and bans are the physical embodiment of restrictions to free speech and thought.
We are at a singularly dangerous point in our nation’s history. But we are far from defeated.
Trump’s actions are not the will of the American people. He’s taken office as the most unpopular President in history. A minority of Americans voted for him, and millions of Americans across the political spectrum are protesting him across the country now that we’ve seen what he will do.
Trump’s business career is a trail of one bankruptcy after the other, and now that Americans see his plans to bankrupt this country, we are fighting back. Because Trump leaves no room for a reasonable discussion, we have to fight him like hell.
In truth, Trump is weak and worried about challenges to his power from the very Americans he seeks to subjugate. Why else would he be so focused on lying about how many people attended his inauguration?
Like other weak men made strong by the power of their position, he will be taken down by the courage of those who are willing to speak truth to power.
The only way Trump wins is if we give up. He will try to demoralize us with a blitzkrieg of executive actions. He will try to distract us with chaos, rhetoric, and manufactured threats. He will try to divide us into tribes, fighting amongst ourselves with different sets of facts from two different worlds, one true and one false.
It’s time to put nation before party and never forget that we are all Americans first. It’s going to take a lot of work to uphold our shared values. We must all get out, stand up, and serve.
So go to rallies and protests. Join the hundreds of thousands of people right here in Massachusetts who have marched in protest of Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine our democracy and divide us as a nation. Organize people right here in our community. Build bridges to close the chasms Trump is trying to create, and focus on the many things that unite us rather than the few that divide us. Be kind to strangers, and work to understand those with whom you disagree. Run for office at any level, or support someone you believe in.
The resistance is here. History will judge where each of us makes our stand.
Seth Moulton of Salem is the congressman for Massachusetts’ 6th District.