The continued unprecedented government chaos generated by the authoritarian President Donald Trump is deflecting media attention from serious social problems brewing in American streets and neighborhoods. If that’s Trump’s plan, it’s working.
Just on Tuesday, people woke up to learn Trump had fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter and a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had resigned when asked to lie by his superiors to reporters about recent arrests of undocumented people in northern California. Later in the morning, Trump bashed California’s sanctuary cities with more lies on Twitter. Meanwhile, porn star Stormy Daniels remains in the news in an effort to tell the whole story about the hush money she received after her affair with Trump before he became president and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III continues his investigation into how Russia relentlessly attacked our democracy during the 2016 elections.
What’s unique about the events is that they’re now not unique at all in our lives but just business as usual, or yet another day, under a wildly erratic presidential administration that basks in chaos while trying to silence social discord and protest through deflection.
Media outlets at this point simply can’t keep up with the barrage of the unusual; it’s not even a matter of trying anymore. It’s really not their fault. Many of Trump’s wild daily decisions and actions, in the past, would be considered bombshell news on an individual basis, but the sheer number of them have normalized the administrative chaos and legitimized the crass and the vulgar in our culture. There’s no going back.
Yet the evidence-based community in the country knows that pressing social dilemmas, such as rising income inequality, lack of adequate medical access for millions of people and crushing student loan debt, is creating the conditions for major unrest. So what comes after Trump is either more Trump-like authoritarian governance dictated through non-democratic means or major social upheaval. Sooner or later, the streets will explode in anger if the dire social conditions persist. It’s not only anecdotal but also quantifiable just like the poverty and homelessness in large American cities. The tragedy of contemporary American inequality plays out while Trump and his surrogates in the GOP give massive tax cuts to the country’s largest corporations, who reward rich stockholders with the new bounty.
The rosy numbers about unemployment and a booming stock market cited by Trump only tell the greedy story of rich people, who use low-wage labor to assuage their sense of entitlement and who reap the vast majority of the financial rewards of higher stocks. The wealthiest 10 percent among us own 84 percent of the stocks.
The desperate struggles for existence on a daily basis under an uncaring, authoritarian presidential administration and Congressional and Senate GOP majorities owned by corporate money don’t get the sensational media treatment granted to a typical outlandish Trump tweet or his most recent impulsive move, but the backlash simmers and it will come eventually.