Don’t Get Complacent …

Fred Hiatt is the editorial page editor of The Washington Post and also contributes a bi-weekly column on Mondays.  This morning’s column, titled Don’t get complacent. Things really are that bad under Trump.”, provides astute observations on where we stand today, and the dangers of becoming inured, of allowing this nightmare to become “the norm”.  In light of the past few weeks of juvenile, racist rage from the one who sits in the Oval Office, I think it is more important than ever to realize just how UN-normal all of this is.

Don’t get complacent. Things really are that bad under Trump.

Fred-HiattBy Fred Hiatt
Editorial page editor
July 28 at 6:42 PM

The economy is humming. We’re not at war (much). So he can’t be that bad, right?

Steadfast NeverTrumpers may find it hard to believe, but I’m hearing that argument more and more lately, as people try to come to terms with the possibility of a second Trump term. It’s the “normalization” we’ve been warned about since Donald Trump’s ascension, but in a different form than we might have expected.

After all, many of the people telling themselves that things aren’t “that bad” insist they are as offended as ever by the racist tweets and sexist taunts. They’d prefer someone more civil in the Oval Office, of course.

But . . . the government, and the world, carry on. He insults our allies, but they remain on our side. He imposes tariffs, but unemployment stays low. He threatens defaults, but the debt ceiling is raised. Maybe, people think, a second term wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I’d argue such complacency is not justified. First, because a second term could be a lot more dangerous than the first. There would be more Trump judges on the courts to validate his lawlessness, no Jim Mattis or (God help us) Jeff Sessions in the Cabinet to curb his authoritarian whims, no worries of voter anger to restrain his bellicosity. A second mandate surely would embolden him; at worst, we could find that his jokes about a third term were no joke.

But complacency is misplaced also because — and here’s where the normalization comes in — things are that bad, even now. If people discount the damage, it’s due to a combination of fatigue and relief: fatigue, because it’s almost impossible to maintain outrage when the outrages are so incessant; and relief, because we are constantly aware that things could be worse.

Take North Korea’s missile launches last week, for example. Congress and the media would be scorching any other president right now for allowing North Korea to continue its nuclear and military buildup unimpeded. But we are so grateful that Trump has not blustered and stumbled into a war — into “fire and fury” — that we bite our tongues.

It’s the same around the world: Our ankle-high expectations for the man keep us from noticing how completely he is meeting those expectations. Our two key allies in East Asia, Japan and South Korea, are at loggerheads; a marginally competent president would be helping to mend fences.

Our most important allies in Europe are spinning apart as Britain plunges toward a disastrous Brexit; a normal president would be helping our friends salvage something workable for the future.

When Ebola emerged in West Africa, the Obama administration mobilized; now Ebola is spinning out of control in Congo, and the United States is absent. A Darfur-scale tragedy has unfolded among the Rohingya in Myanmar, also known as Burma; Trump doesn’t know who they are. A human rights violation of epic scale has taken shape in western China — the cultural genocide of an entire people, with as many as 3 million people in concentration camps — and Trump takes no notice. Journalists are murdered and imprisoned, and Trump sides with their murderers and jailers.

To the world, it is not just Trump taking these positions. It is America. The damage will be long-lasting.

And his ignorance and cynicism reverberate through some of the biggest stories of our time: the confidence of authoritarian strongmen in China, Russia and beyond; their distortion of technology from a liberating force into a malevolent tool of surveillance and suppression; the destructive warming of the climate, which the United States ignores and abets. None of these is easily reversible.

The story is similar, if more familiar, at home. The constant, willful lying; the attacks on the press and on the very idea of truth — these are not harmless. They draw from but also foster a lack of trust that will persist long after his presidency.

So does the racism. So do the ugly attacks on immigrants. So do the contempt for science and the refusal to stand up to foreign attacks on our elections. So do the disparaging of public servants and the casual threats to wield the vast powers of the federal government against perceived political enemies. These things used to be not okay. Now they are okay. There will be no easy return.

Yes, we’ve avoided recession, the nation is (mostly) at peace, the government will not default. Naturally, we are thankful.

But when we need to be thankful for avoiding disaster, we don’t really have so much to be thankful for. Things are that bad. We have a right to expect better.

Text dividers

29 thoughts on “Don’t Get Complacent …

  1. Hi Jill, if you or ur readers haven’t watched this yet, I highly recommend:

    Data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset. It’s being weaponized to wage cultural and political warfare. People everywhere are in a battle for control of our most intimate personal details. From award-winning filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, THE GREAT HACK uncovers the dark world of data exploitation with astounding access to the personal journeys of key players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal.


  2. If you’ve read as much History as I have, Complacency is no longer in the lexicon…..Fatalism, maybe. Exasperation certainly. Anger, definately. For it is happening all over again…..
    Schadenfreude…..I’ll book my seat and order the popcorn right now

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep … we learned nothing, did we? And this time, I’m not sure that we have time to wait for the natural course of things to set the world to rights again, given that we keep on killing our planet.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now here is the very sobering thought Jill.
        This planet has been around for 4 billion years. Over that time it’s dynamics have changed the surfaces, atmospheres, the climates and still it continues, Life and All.
        True, we may make this planet uninhabitable for US and a lot of Life. This is called an Extinction Event, and in the Long History there has been a few of those….yet Life has persevered, adapted and flourished. Life is like that. We become just another smear on the fossil record.
        So yes, we may well wipe out ourselves and a lot of Life, BUT the Planet will persist. WE are not so grand that we could destroy the world. If we insist on pushing The World will cleanse itself of us.
        In fact, in allegorical terms the warnings are there in many religious texts…
        Take the Old Testament….Genesis, if you read the poetical allegories,(no not in the literal) the warnings are there….You want to survive and prosper you take care of your environment.
        And there is nothing the naysayers can do about. The World itself will not listen to some speck of inadequacy frantically tweeting away….

        Liked by 1 person

        • You are so very right. It’s as the saying that I’ve quoted a few times, the Earth doesn’t need us in order to survive, but we do need the Earth to survive. Y’know … if somebody had told me 10 years ago that humans were facing extinction by the end of the century, I would have been sad, but now … I’m really not, for more and more I see the human species as greedy and arrogant, with no hope of ever learning to do better. What does make me sad, however, is that humans in their arrogance, in their certainty that they are the superior creatures, have also led to the extinction of other species who really didn’t deserve it. I suppose that instead of returning as a wolf, I shall have to return as a rock.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Fascinating … what I could understand of it, anyway. It puts into perspective the fact that we are but a blip, a mere speck in the history of Earth, and all the things that we are fighting over today really have no relevance in the grand scheme of things. I wonder how the end of life as we know it on Earth will happen? Slow suffocation, or a big bang?

              Liked by 1 person

              • That’s variable Jill, well in geological and paleontological terms (on those scale 10,000 years is a blink).
                In our generational perspective probably a slow descent over a few hundred years. In the above mentioned…..
                Pooff!…Humanity’s gone!….Bye-bye failed species, no one to blame but yourselves

                Liked by 1 person

                  • The thing about nukes being in the hands of madmen, is that someone else, lots of someone elses have to press the triggers, and a lot of those have families, oh yeah and side-arms…..
                    Am I painting the picture clearly enough?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • One would think so … one would hope so. Sigh. Yes, you paint it clearly, but I just wonder … so far the safeguards in other areas that we thought would prevent corruption and chaos, would prevent a power-hungry madman from becoming an autocrat, have failed. Those in positions to exert common sense and say, “No, Donnie, you cannot do that”, have fallen under his “charms???” So, I’m losing faith that any will have the courage or cojones to stop him.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • So far Jill, he has had an easy democratic ride. He has yet to step into the Hardball arena when there are abnormally high stakes to play. Very few go there and those who do come out badly torn up (Nixon, LBJ…and probably JFK had he lived).
                      Trump…wouldn’t last. The amorphous system would take him down.

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s hard not to get used to the new normal. It’s awful, but I think we’re hard-wired to adapt to the new environment. I, too, worry that people will completely shut down and tune it all out — which of course benefits Trump and his sycophants — which is why I think the best antidote is to pick one or two issues that you care the most about and work on those. It’s manageable, it helps protect from overwhelm, and importantly, taking action is medicine for the soul.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re so right. Sometimes I find myself just shrugging and saying “What’s new?” when I read about another of Trump’s abominations. But, it’s important that we keep being appalled and keep shining the light on both his words and actions. It is overwhelming, and I like your advice to pick an issue or two, but … there are so many important ones that I find I really cannot limit my outrage to just one or two. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. By now one should no longer be surprised by Trump, but never ever become complacent. For those in jeopardy of becoming complacent, perhaps reading CNN Editor-at Large Chris Cillizza’s column from this evening will shake them : “You’ll never believe what Donald Trump just said about 9/11.” Trump’s ability to twist anything and everything into being about himself is nothing short of astounding, but this tops them all! Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did read the column and was so disgusted that I just really want to slap the ‘man’ silly. And yet, no doubt there are some people who will believe all his self-praise. I really wish the first responders who were in the room would have all boo-ed him, or better yet just walked out. Sigh.


  5. Jill, thanks for sharing this. Yes, you and I know things are that bad and what we have now should never be normalized. But, the problem is WE THE PEOPLE. To quote a neighbor, “Yeah, the man is scum, he’s an a-hole, but my stocks are doing great, I am wealthy, and I want to be wealthier. So what if the poor are becoming destitute, the refugees are in cages, the blacks, browns and Muslims are denied their rights? My portfolio is terrific.” WE THE PEOPLE have become we the greedy.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Greed and arrogance … the attitude that “it’s all about me and to hell with everybody else” is prevalent among nearly half the nation, it would seem. There is no doubt that the economy cannot stay where it is forever, and frankly, I am looking forward to seeing people like your neighbor when their investment portfolio suddenly tanks as so many did back in 2007-2008. It will happen, and then I wonder how Trump’s 40% base will feel about him?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You know … I know … most of your readers know … this man speaks the truth.

    Yet things continue on unabated. When oh when will this man get his comeuppance?!!?

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m starting to believe, never. Trump will get away with this, and nothing will ever happen to him. I’m convinced he and Mitchy McConnell are working directly with the Kremlin to assure a Republican victory in 2020. I’m sickened, outraged, and feel deeply defeated. Hope I’m wrong, but I just see nothing coming but darker, and darker times and more and more corruption coming from the Russian owned GOP and Trump.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Like you, I am losing hope. The Supreme Court’s decision not to stop gerrymandering was a big blow to the chance for a fair and honest 2020 election, as is McConnell’s refusal to address election security. The rest of the Senate could proceed without McConnell, for nowhere in the Senate rules does it say he has this sort of power, but they are wusses and won’t stand up to him. More and more I’m coming to believe that he may well win re-election, again without the popular vote, but because the electoral college and gerrymandering have placed the odds in his favour. Sigh. I don’t think this nation can withstand another 5 years of Trump, and frankly, if he wins re-election, I believe the only thing that will ever get him out of office will be death. Couldn’t happen soon enough, if you ask me.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You are correct. I’m beginning to think it’s a hopeless cause. If the latest racism rant didn’t move the bar down, then nothing will.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Jill, it is hard to pick the worst result under Trump, it is that bad. I feared the impact on climate change action would be his worst legacy and most damaging. Layer in his treatment of the environment, in general.

    Treating our allies like acquaintances instead of friends it harmful. We are ceding (and have already dipped) our global influence. Trump operates by fear, but with your allies, fear does not sell as well. They will find other options and avoid us.

    Treating all trading partners as zero-sum games is also bad. I have learned long ago, an entity makes more money seeking to build a long term relationship with other entities, than trying to win as big as they can on every transaction.

    Yet, sowing the seeds of uncivility and demeaning our democracy, media and other legislators may be his worst impact.

    I left off other concerns for brevity. This person is a clear and present danger to our democracy, our planet and his party. His party must find its conscious and spine and tell this person to grow up and shut up. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are so right … there are so many ways in which he has caused harm, damaged relationships, further destroyed the environment that it’s depressing to even try to count them. The environment, his support of the fossil fuel industry and refusal to address climate change are the most damaging, not only to us, but to the entire planet. And the divisiveness he has played on and expanded is bringing about our destruction from within. That said … all he has done in less than three years so far will take decades to repair. And still, he has the support of some 40% of the nation. There is a sickness in this country and he is merely the symptom, but a very dangerous symptom. A clear and present danger for certain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And, if his base worked for him, they would have left or have their resume together. Holding mercury is difficult job, but having to lie to people and say everything is fine and get blamed when it is not, because the Teflon Don cannot accept any responsibilty….

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.