Donald Trump is responsible for his own behavior but his presidency is the fault of the American people

Redemption for this country, for both revanchists and those who chose not to see clearly, lies in resisting Trump

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published July 25, 2017 5:00AM (EDT)

 (AP/John Minchillo)
(AP/John Minchillo)

In many ways, the presidency of Donald Trump is not new. Shakespeare perfectly understood leaders such as Mr. Trump and described a man of such ilk as:

I grant him bloody,

Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin That has a name.

Mr. Trump is intemperate, boorish, a political thug, an American fascist, ignorant, racist, violent, misogynistic, does not read, idolizes authoritarians and despots, and acts like a tyrannical impetuous child-king.

In total, Mr. Trump is an illegitimate president.

A mountain of evidence shows that his presidential campaign was aided and abetted by a hostile foreign power who wanted to undermine the country's electoral system with the goal of installing a leader who they could manipulate in the service of their interests.

Three million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Mr. Trump. At present, more Americans want Donald Trump to be impeached and removed from office than support him.

Mr. Trump, both during the 2016 presidential campaign and his short time in office, has repeatedly shown a deep disdain for the principles of American democracy such as freedom of the press and the rule of law. Mr. Trump has repeatedly violated centuries of tradition regarding how the American military is to be kept out of domestic politics.

Ultimately, Mr. Trump may possess the coercive power which comes with the presidency, but he lacks both moral authority and respect from the American people (and the world).

Mr. Donald Trump is a 71-year-old man.

Despite what his enablers and defenders have argued, Mr. Trump is wholly responsible for his behavior. However, Donald Trump's calamitous presidency is the fault of the American people.

If the country is to ever be healed, this basic fact must be confronted and resolved.

Tens of millions of white Republican and right-leaning independents voted to put Donald Trump in the White House.

Republican leaders circled the wagons and supported his presidential nomination. They continue to protect Mr. Trump from accountability for his many scandals — and of course traitorous behavior with Russia — after he won the White House.

Largely because he is worth billions of dollars in advertising ratings, the American corporate news media attempted to normalize Donald Trump's fascist behavior during the 2016 presidential campaign and his first few months as president.

The Democratic Party's leaders and consultants who misallocated resources underestimated the threat posed by Mr. Trump and his followers, did not sufficiently mobilize key parts of their base and failed to develop an effective branding and marketing campaign for Hillary Clinton, which allowed Mr. Trump to slip into the White House.

The tens of millions of Americans who stayed home on Election Day and chose to not vote against Donald Trump made this national calamity possible.

Third party as well as Bernie Sanders' voters who did not rally behind Hillary Clinton helped to elect Mr. Trump.

Is redemption possible?

The Republican Party is a revanchist and destructive force in American society. Mr. Trump is not an aberration or outlier for today's version of conservatism; he is all of its worst aspects magnified and made fully and nakedly grotesque. The Republican Party in its present form cannot be salvaged as a force for the common good and American democracy.

Republican voters, generally, and Trump's supporters, specifically, have made a political blood pact with Donald Trump. He is their hero and avatar. His despicable values are their values. Until they actively reject Donald Trump and the Republican Party, these voters cannot be redeemed.

The Democratic Party made many errors in their campaign against Mr. Trump and the Republican Party. To find redemption, the Democratic Party's leaders must reject the cowardly urge to chase the Republican Party further rightward in order to find "consensus." They must also accept that weak slogans and childish principles such as "when they go low, we go high" will only lead to further defeat by the Republican Party and its candidates. Most importantly, redemption is possible only when the Democratic Party realizes that victory will come by embracing truly progressive policies, mobilizing their base, improving their messaging and communication style, and not partaking in the fool's gambit that is chasing down "white working class" voters.

And what of those Americans who stayed home, supported third party candidates, or otherwise did not vote against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton? Redemption is possible. They can find it by participating in the corporeal politics of protests, marches and strikes. These Americans can also find redemption through voting in support of Democratic and other liberal-progressive candidates as well as working in their neighborhoods and communities to effect positive social and political change. Ultimately, redemption comes through resisting Donald Trump and the Republican Party's agenda at every opportunity — be it through calling representatives, attending town halls and voting with your pocketbooks and wallets against those businesses and media outlets that support Donald Trump and his family financially.

Politics has few saints and of course many more sinners. But politics remains a space for people to make choices about the good life, justice and the type of country and world they would like to live in. Personal accountability and self-reflection are part of this struggle. Six months into Mr. Trump's presidency, the American people need to look in the mirror and ask themselves, are they part of the solution? Or are they part of the problem? The United States will succeed or fail based on their answer.

Whatever then happens, the fault truly is in our hearts and not in the stars.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Donald Trump Macbeth Shakespeare The Resistance