We're more than half way through season 1 of "Game of Trump" and each week's episode brings new surprises. The aftermath of the battle of Charlottesville caused Emperor Trump to reveal his true character. Meanwhile, the resistance found new energy.
Immediately after the dreadful white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Trump made contradictory statements. Then he held a rambling press conference where he blamed "both sides" for the melee—even though the white supremacists clearly provoked the violence and one of their participants murdered a counter protestor. (At Charlottesville, white supremacists hurled racial epithets at the opposition, threatened to rape women, and chanted, "Jews will not replace us.")
The battle of Charlottesville marks the end of "Game of Trump" phase one:
1. Trump's legislative program collapsed. Trump entered the oval office with political momentum and a Republican majority in Congress. Nonetheless, he hasn't managed to pass any significant legislation.
2. Trump's relationship with Republican members of Congress deteriorated. Trump displayed no ability to manage congressional relationships in order to achieve Republican policy objectives. Trump's interaction with GOP congressional leaders—particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan—has deteriorated to the point where Trump criticizes them daily on Twitter.
3. The White House is understaffed. The Trump Administration has been historically slow filling White House positions and Trump's staff are inexperienced loyalists—for example, Jared Kushner. As of August 16, Trump's inner circle has been completely replaced—other than family members. The result is policy incoherence.
4. Trump is isolated. Because of White House staff turmoil and the deteriorating relationship with Congress, Trump is increasingly isolated. This isn't a good situation because Trump is, to say the least, an inexperienced President. But it's particularly distressing because many observers regard him as deranged.
Over the last six months, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of commentators claiming to detect signs of Trump's mental illness. There have also been many articles claiming that Trump's advisers treat him like a child and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to stifle his impulsive outbursts.
5. Nonetheless, Trump held onto his base. Trump is very unpopular with Democrats and Independents but continues to have the approval of 80 percent of Republicans. There's been a lot of discussion about this dichotomy. The consensus is that Trump's supporters see him as a maverick and feel he has been unfairly maligned by the mainstream media.
While Trump's position deteriorated, the resistance strengthened. Since January the resistance focussed on protecting Obamacare (very successfully) and electing Democrats in purple or red Congressional districts (not as successful). The resistance gained members but was predominantly a white progressive endeavor.
Charlottesville changed that. The Charlottesville anti-hate protesters were multiracial. (By the way: I'm using this informative post by Brian McLaren as my guide to what went on at Charlottesville. Now the resistance is shifting its focus to the danger of white supremacy.
The night of August 20, MoveOn hosted a national "Confronting White Supremacy" (pdf) phone call that included 20 progressive groups including Indivisible, Democracy for America, Color of Change, People's Action, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration. The host, Mehrdad Azemun from People's Action, reminded listeners that white supremacists have the ear of the Republican party and have shaped the Trump agenda: draconian budget cuts, restriction of voting rights, and, in general, "declaring war on communities of color."
Two excellent resources explained U.S. white supremacy. Eric Ward, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, urged participants to refer to white supremacists as white nationalists. He said their goal is to create an ethno state, to overthrow the existing government by fear and intimidation. He said white nationalists attack the belief "that a multiracial society can work." Ward noted that white nationalists blame jews for the beliefs that multiracism can work and that racial progress has occurred.
Tarso Luis Ramos, from Political Research Associates, amplified Eric Ward's presentation. He noted that white nationalists attack Americans on five dimensions: race, religion, gender, class, and sexuality. Ramos proposed six excellent "Democratic Principles for Antidemocratic Times":
1. Unity: "If you come for any of us, you will have to go through all of us." This principle commits the resistance to protect immigrants as well as individuals or groups attacked for race, religion, gender, class, or sexuality.
2. Solidarity: "Support Freedom fighters and defend targets of political retaliation."This principle commits the resistance to defend those who are targeted by the Trump Administration, such as wrongfully arrested protesters.
3. Perseverance: "Never give up on democracy." This stance commits the resistance to operate democratically at all levels of organization.
4. Clarity: "Keep our hearts open and our eyes on the prize." The resistance is committed to nonviolence, which comes from the heart.
5. Openness: "Demand a free press that doesn't censor itself to maintain access to Trump." This principle is particularly important because, on a daily basis, Trump attacks the mainstream media.
6. Vision: "Build an attractive, alternative vision that reflects people's needs." This principle acknowledges that the resistance must build a vision that features safety for all Americans, real equity. A vision that includes racial justice but also addresses Americans' economic concerns.
Game of Trump: the battle for America's soul has begun.