This Sunday, speaking at his first Fourth of July event as president, Donald Trump did what Donald Trump always does. First, he pushed his ongoing campaign against the free press, telling his assembled supporters that, “The fake media is trying to silence us, but we will not let them.” Then he reminded everyone that he won the last presidential election, making him the most powerful man in pretty much every room he enters. “I’m president, and they’re not,” he said, to a standing ovation. Trump giggled and mugged and fired his two finger-guns at the gushing crowd.
This was just the latest example of Trump telling the media — a proxy for any element of the American public that might dare criticize him — that they can get bent. Back in March, while discussing the ludicrous and completely fabricated charges of wiretapping by his predecessor, Trump defended himself by calling the rest of us losers.
“I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not,” Trump said. (There’s no indication from the transcript that he added “nah nah na nah nah,” but it’s obviously implied.)
Trump’s presidency is what happens when you elect a vengeful man-baby with an insatiable lust for power, a desperate need for attention, and endless reserves of contempt for the masses. Instead of accountability or transparency, ideas or innovation, you get a commander-in-chief whose most salient traits are narcissistic self-interest, hypersensitivity to criticism and a kneejerk tendency toward abuse. Question the job Trump is doing and instead of a vigorous defense of his policies or proposals you’ll get a hastily worded middle finger. Who are you to question me, the president? Trump seems to be saying: You’re nobody.
This isn’t just Trump’s philosophy, it’s the Republican brand. The demarcation between us and them is money and power, and we’re just peons who stand in the way of their ability to accrue more of both. Their contempt is woven into every cruel GOP policy proposal that aims to steal what little the have-nots possess in order to re-gift it to the haves. As long as such a sizeable portion of this country aspires to be just like them — to attain the means to bully and screw over people with the impunity of rich white men — Republicans will keep getting elected to office.
Chris Christie displayed this “let them eat cake” arrogance this Sunday as he sunned himself on a public beach he’d effectively turned private by closing it to all other New Jerseyans. Local news outlet NJ Advance Media captured aerial photos of the governor and his family chilling at Island Beach State Park, one of the many state beaches Christie ordered closed during the state’s budget shutdown. Questioned about his use of the beach, Christie initially denied he’d gotten “any sun” until he was alerted to the existence of photographic evidence. Instead of contrition, he offered a snarky dismissal of all the regular folks who might have wanted to spend their holiday on the sand. “The governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t,” Christie sniped. “It’s just the way it goes. Run for governor and then you can have the residence.”
This a long-winded way of saying, “F**k you; pay me,” and it’s the GOP’s unofficial motto. Trump spends an astounding amount of time playing golf at a cost of millions to taxpayers he wants to fleece out of basic health care. Christie, whose Bridgegate scandal robbed New Jerseyans of at least $10 million, insults his constituents from the comfort of a beach chair. These two, like their fellow partygoers, clearly despise average people, especially those who have the gall to point out the danger they pose.
“If I had been the son of a coalminer, I would have left the damn mine,” Trump said in a 1990 interview with Playboy magazine. “But most people don’t have the imagination, or whatever, to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’”
That attitude is echoed by Christie and the whole of the GOP, who are constantly dreaming up new and inventive ways to further enrich the wealthy. The Republican Party believes the wealthy and powerful are innately better than the rest of us, that they deserve more by dint of the fact that they already have it. Too bad so much of the country agrees. The greatest stunt Republicans ever achieved was how to exploit the dreams and fears of their supporters to get them to vote for policies that promise to destroy them. Call them con men if you want, but at this point, recognize their marks aren’t that hard to fool, either.