What’s “Great” About Donald Trump?

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Trump: Legend in his own mind

W.J. Astore

MAGA: Make America Great Again.  That was Donald Trump’s slogan for 2016.  He obviously believes he has succeeded, since his slogan for 2020 is Keep America Great.  “Great” is obviously vague, protean, and labile in meaning, but what does it mean to Trump?

It’s a serious question that deserves consideration.  Here, to my mind, is how Trump thinks he’s made America great, keeping in mind that greatness to Trump is all about that which produces adulation for, well, one Donald J. Trump.

  1. Military might. Trump loves to brag about how he’s “restored” the military, making it bigger and badder than ever.
  2. More riches for the richest. Hence that huge tax break for the richest, perhaps the signature achievement of his first term.
  3. A galloping stock market. Well, until Covid-19.
  4. More power and money for Trump and his family. Trump views greatness in terms of what’s best for him and his family empire.
  5. Walls to keep out “the other.” For Trump, part of being great is denying that status to others.  A world of great heads like Trump demands lots of little people suffering.
  6. A neutered press (the “enemy of the people”). For Trump, the press is his foil, his lapdog, his trumpet, and his enemy, all in one.  When it’s dancing to his tune, Trump knows he’s winning – and he feels like a winner, too.
  7. Permanent partisan divide in which the Democrats are seen as almost demonic. Trump needs an enemy to measure himself against, and “Demoncrats” like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi are tailor-made rivals to belittle, which helps to make him feel bigger.
  8. Near-total dismissal of expertise, especially of science (climate change as a “hoax”). A “very stable genius” needs no help from others; he is omniscient.  He even knows the best way to tackle and treat a pandemic!
  9. Always blaming someone else for any setback. Greatness, to Trump, means never having to say you’re sorry.
  10. Disenfranchising or discouraging as many “bad” Americans as possible from voting. Not every American can wrap their heads around Trump’s greatness.  Those who can’t really don’t deserve to vote.

In all seriousness, Trump is great at one thing: shameless deception.  The man knows the craft of the con.  He often can fool most of the people most of the time.  Imagine the good a man like this could do if he had empathy, ethics, and truly sought to serve others.  But Trump serves only himself.  A petty tyrant, he has commanded the attention of Americans in an almost unprecedented way, only to divide them and diminish democracy.

Herein lies a conundrum: How has a man whose spirit is so small, whose sense of service is so shriveled, whose judgment is so un-great, convinced so many that greatness lies within their grasp if only they listen to him, follow him, cheer him on, and reelect him?

Great may indeed be a protean concept – but by any definition the greatness of America does not reside in enabling or empowering one Donald J. Trump.

40 thoughts on “What’s “Great” About Donald Trump?

  1. Under point #7, I think it’s telling that you name two women whom the Dumpster sees as enemies. He may rail against Comey, Mueller, or Schiff, but he truly hates—and FEARS—his female adversaries. I believe that’s a key to his psychological make-up.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, from the Mayo Clinic. Check them off… Trump gets a perfect score in my book — even more ‘perfect’ than that phone call to Ukraine.

        Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
        Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
        Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
        Exaggerate achievements and talents
        Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
        Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
        Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
        Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
        Take advantage of others to get what they want
        Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
        Be envious of others and believe others envy them
        Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
        Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

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        1. That NPD checklist could have been drawn up with Trump as its model, after he “rose” to highest office in the land! But I’ve been saying for some time now that his deranged personality would not be able to harm us if not for the ready-made audience for hate-mongering–the oh so fertile field–that had been established for him by the ultra-right spewers of preposterous BS that preceded him. Trump did not originate this, he merely seized advantage of it. Does that exhibit a certain streak of “genius”? Crass opportunism is the better term.

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          1. I wouldn’t say that Donald Trump “rose to the highest office in the land.” Rather, it seems to me, the highest office in the land — not to mention the two right-wing factions whose minions normally occupy it — sank to a level beneath even him. Remember, The Donald had to descend on an escalator in Trump Tower to get down to where, first, the Republicans and, then, the Democrats, waited for him to easily roll right over them. The ease with which Donald Trump became the nation’s 45th president surely surprised even him.

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  2. Seriously? Donald Trump hates and fears two of the principle reasons he won election as America’s 45th President? Do high school football teams hate and fear their own junior varsity? Trump and the Republicans hate and fear these two women?

    (1) Nancy the Negotiator

    Nancy the Negotiator
    Gives up first; surrenders later;
    Takes her cards from off the table,
    Then recites her loser fable:

    “We don’t have the votes we need,”
    Nancy says, in tones that bleed:
    “Mean Republicans will whine
    If we do not toe their line.”

    Nancy bows to George and Dick
    While her skinny ass they kick;
    Writes them checks both blank and rubber,
    Then proceeds to lamely blubber:

    “We don’t like what Dubya’s doing.
    Still, we quite enjoy the screwing.
    Masochism’s what we offer,
    Helping crooks to loot the coffer”

    “Sure, the squandered blood and treasure
    Goes to those we will not measure.
    Still, we promise you’ll adore us
    If you mark your ballot for us.”

    “Choices you don’t have assail you,
    Leaving only us who fail you.
    Nonetheless, we’ve gotten fatter.
    Why, then, should we think you matter?”

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2007

    (2) Buffaloed Girl
    (Somewhat after the traditional song of a similar name)

    Buffaloed girl, won’t you come out tonight?
    Bask in your fright; hide in plain sight.
    Buffaloed girl don’t you put up a fight;
    Just dance to the right with the goons!

    Buffaloed girl, don’t you burn any flags;
    Marry some fags; count body bags.
    Buffaloed girl, wrapped in riches not rags,
    Just keep raking in those doubloons!

    Buffaloed girl, send our troops to Iraq!
    Then leave them there! Don’t bring them back!
    Buffaloed girl, cover George Bush’s back,
    And scrape up a few more platoons!

    Buffaloed girl, just stay out of the fray.
    Keep your mouth shut! Keep making hay!
    Buffaloed girl, while the cat is away
    Just keep playing mice with buffoons.

    Buffaloed girl, don’t you hear the troops cry?
    Wounded for wrongs; dead for a lie
    Buffaloed girl, look in everyone’s eye
    And then soil your own pantaloons

    Buffaloed girl, under Lieberman’s wing
    Saving his job, that’s the main thing
    Buffaloed girl, you and Holy Joe sing
    The duet of right-wing spittoons

    Buffaloed girl, rail at video games
    Focus group that; spout the right frames
    Buffaloed girl, don’t you name any names
    Just save children from their cartoons

    Buffaloed girl, take a “listening” tour
    If you don’t know; if you’re not sure
    Buffaloed girl, voters like their fake “pure”
    Like war debt that simply balloons

    Buffaloed girl, when it counted you hid
    Don’t try to lie. That’s what you did
    Buffaloed girl, Dubya made you his kid
    When you bought the crap that he croons

    Buffaloed girl, your irrelevance mounts
    Even in small, measured amounts
    If “it” takes a village, by all your accounts
    Then take “it” to Mars and its moons

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2006

    You mean those two women? Hate and Fear them? What would any self-respecting Republican and self-loathing Republican-wannabe-Democrat ever do without them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a truly fearsome “adversary” for America’s other right-wing — or “Republican” — party. You know . . . Her:

      (2a) A Glib Giddy Ghoul / Goldwater’s Girl
      (Venimus. Vidimus. Et Mortuus Est)

      “We came. We saw. He died,” she cackled,
      This chicken hen hawking her bile,
      Amused at the bleeding and shackled
      Gaddafi upon whom would pile
      Jihadists with red hatred spackled,
      And all so Dame Clinton could smile.

      Or, alternatively:

      On hearing of Gaddafi’s savage murder
      She smiled and joked: “We came. We saw. He died.”
      Apparently, she thought that those who heard her
      Would share her chickenhenish war-slut pride.

      She campaigned in her youth for Bomber Barry
      Goldwater, who from Arizona came;
      Who made his money ripping off the natives
      On reservations where he staked his claim.

      Our You-Know-Her worked hard for Bomber Barry
      Who swore that if elected he would kill
      Vietnamese who found us less than scary
      In numbers that would break their iron will.

      A pantsuit with no principles or vision
      Just raw ambition: naked, stark, and vain.
      If peace might happen, war is her decision.
      Goldwater’s Girl is just a John McCain.

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2015

      The establishment Democratic Party hates and fears nothing so much as the working-class, anti-war freaks (like me) who refuse to buy their pusillanimous propaganda and belligerent bullshit in service to the the Corporate Oligarchy that throws them table scraps from the Republican banquets.

      Buy some Republicans. They’ll shout ‘Gawd Bless!’
      Rent a few Democrats. They’ll lose for less.

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    2. Comedian Jimmy Dore likes to say, “Politics is just like Professional Wrestling. When the cameras are on, both sides pretend to be bitter enemies; behind closed doors, everyone is best of friends because they’re all getting paid by the same people.” (And they’re all getting rich together.)

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      1. And like Ron Placone said recently on the Jimmy Dore Show: “We don’t have a country any more. We have a corporation with state lines.”

        Put somewhat differently, I have heard this sentiment expressed as follows: “The United States consists of a marketing territory and population containment zone.”

        Same thing.

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  3. Trump is not the cause of our problems; he is a symptom of them. Eight years of disappointment with Obama’s neoliberalism was more of a cause. Electing Biden will put everyone back to sleep. It won’t fix anything.

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    1. Absolutely. Put Biden in a time machine, turn the knob back 40 years. Young Joe (in his late 30s) emerges, almost a full head of hair, smiles and presses the flesh. “Love me! Vote for me!” If you put a gun to his head and said “A New Idea or your life!” he’d be in a real quandary. This is the real problem, not his current age and apparently dwindling mental sharpness. And this is the “best” the DNC can offer us in 2020! Gov. Jay Inslee, of Washington State, was one of the first rivals for the nomination to drop out, and probably had the best ideas. This virus pandemic is very bad, but the Global Climate Catastrophe will make those still around (I don’t expect to be, myself) look back on the early 21st Century as The Good Old Days.

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    2. Yes. Electing Joe Biden — or any Democrat — as the next President of the United States will not fix anything that needs fixing. But it will result in the termination of ongoing indictments and prosecutions targeting John Brennan (CIA) , James Clapper (DNI), James Comey (FBI), Susan Rice (NSA), Samantha Power (UN), and possibly the Clintons, Bidens, and the Obamas, as well. All of these people conspired, coordinated, cooperated, and collaborated in attempting to undermine, first, the election of Donald Trump and, second, Trump’s administration before it could even get started. These people committed many crimes in the process of trying to subvert Democracy in the United States. They belong together in a single prison cell with one bed, one toilet, and one orange jumpsuit to share among the lot of them.

      Alex Christoforou and Alexander Mercouris of The Duran have a discussion of this matter in one of their recent video segments. Whatever one thinks of Trump, it might make a difference which person wields administrative authority after the 2020 election. Which person would have the incentive to prosecute certain Obama administration officials for their clearly criminal activities? Which person would have every incentive to continue covering up clear crimes against the US Constitution while blaming “The Russians” for anything and everything under the sun? See: AG Barr: Prosecutions for Russiagate coming soon (Video), The Duran Quick Take: Episode 527 (April 13, 2020)

      [20:15] Alex Christoforou: “When the U.S. gets over the CV crisis, which it will, and Trump puts it behind him and we start to focus again on Russiagate, which we will, and all these prosecutions start to hit, we’re inching closer to November, it’s going to be a slam-dunk for Trump.”

      Alexander Mercouris: “Of course it is. But for me – and bear in mind that I’m not a U.S. citizen and I’m not directly connected to the U.S. at all – getting to the bottom of all of this, exposing the fact of what seems to me a conspiracy against the Constitution of the United States. Just remember this: Donald Trump is the constitutionally elected President of the United States. These people who were out to “sabotage his presidency” – Barr’s words, not mine – were acting in a way that is calculated to overthrow, in effect, the proper workings of the US Constitution. I can’t see how it gets more serious than that, actually. I mean, that is off the scale. When the US’s own counter-intelligence and police agency is being used in that way, is just so shocking. I have no words for it. So, for me, that is the single most important reason why I want to see Donald Trump re-elected in November. Because that gives me confidence that these things will be investigated properly and those prosecutions will take place, and what looks to me like the most serious conspiracy the US has faced, in its history, will be finally exposed.”

      As Michael Tracey said recently on this Twitter feed:

      “Trump/Russia was one of the most pernicious hoaxes ever inflicted on the US political system — a debunked CIA/FBI conspiracy theory that obliterated the media’s credibility — and Bernie gave it “progressive” legitimacy. Then he himself got “Russiagated.” That’s what happened.”

      The Democrats and their allies in the Corporate Media (Rachel Maddow and MSNBC especially) stupidly asked for a royal ass-kicking when they launched that demented “Russia-gate” farce of a jihad in a desperate attempt to avoid coming to grips with what Clinton/Bush/Obama neo-liberalism had done to the working class (and much of the middle class) in the United States over several decades.

      A second Trump administration might deal with some of the worst Democratic Party red-baiters, or it might not. Trump’s feckless malleability guarantees nothing. But a Democrat in the White House come January 2021 probably means a continued cover-up of real crimes and worsening relations with the Russian Federation, just for starters.

      So we will see what develops in the months to come . . .

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      1. At the same time, Trump’s life-long history of corruption in his personal businesses could just as well take him down. Prosecutions against Trump and the Trump Organization have been working their way through the court systems at every level — the list is very long and include possible traitorous offenses involving the Russian mafia and Deutsch Bank. I’m not going to hold my breath, tho. The Bush crime cabal should all be in federal prison right now, but Obama chose to “look forward” and ignore all the war crimes committed by his predecessors. Of course, Noam Chomsky has asserted that every modern president since WWII could be considered a war criminal according to standards agreed to after the Nuremberg Trials. These psychopaths always protect each other so as not to upset the crap game they have going on.

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        1. No way in hell will a POTUS sign off on prosecution of a predecessor for war-related crimes. Too dangerous a precedent would be set! “We tortured folks” was as far as Obama could go. Meanwhile, he continued to bless assassination by drone and increased surveillance of US citizens. If Trump is re-elected–there’s a very strong likelihood of it, I say, choking back a little vomit–he’ll shield himself for another four years from any prosecution by any level of government, and if he lives long enough, he’ll be granted a Presidential Pardon for all crimes, including those still to be uncovered in the future. That precedent was set on behalf of the “Quaker” from Whittier, CA.

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          1. Some of these very serious charges are at the state and local level — where at least presidential pardons can’t be given. Tax evasion, tax fraud, money-laundering, etc. We can only cross our fingers, eh?

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          2. If there’s any way a Presidential Pardon can be expanded so widely that it covers any and all offenses, no matter when committed (e.g. before he entered the presidency), we may be sure Trump will secure it for himself. And all his relatives and cronies, if possible. Doubtless Wm. Barr has already looked into this. Whether he’s still AG whenever Trump’s term expires remains to be seen–if he somehow pisses his boss off, he’s gone! Like so many others passing thru this administration.

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  4. Apropos of nothing: Tulsi Gabbard was the candidate best fitted to defeat Trump. Calm, strong, combat veteran, a woman (and an attractive one, and her looks would force Trump to be more deferential).

    What a shame she bent the knee to the DNC and supported Creepy Uncle Joe.

    BTW, note in all this talk of a “woman of color” being Joe’s VP, no one has mentioned Tulsi.

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    1. Anyone running for running for national office as a Democrat has to bend the knee to the DNC and their corporate donors or the DNC will sabotage them. Bernie turned out to be a sheep in wolf’s clothing and was more interested in maintaining his position in the party than he was about winning. We need a third party desperately. And ass soon as Biden became the chosen one, all the liberal mainstream media began to cover up for all his faults — the same ones many of them were criticizing him for just a few months ago. And barely a mention of his record of sexual assaults and his obvious cognitive decline. Of course, all these people are also paid by the same corporate warmongers as the politicians they report on.

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      1. CNN, for now at least, is keeping alive the issue of sexual aggression accusations against Biden. I refer to their online site, as I ditched cable TV back in November.

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    2. Biden is an empty suit. He has no signature position or policy. None. If elected, he’d be a puppet. And I don’t like the string-pullers.

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      1. Let’s be honest — ALL presidents in the past century have been puppets. If they express policy positions not favorable to their corporate donors, those policies don’t materialize.

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        1. As was said in a rather distant time when there was a little more honesty afoot, perhaps, “The business of America is Business.” Not the welfare of the citizenry as a whole, and sure as hell not Peace on Earth to Men of Good Will!! What could be more crucial to the citizenry than their health?? Economic security? Very important, but good health is required to underpin overall security of the individual. Yet here we remain, the only “developed nation” which intentionally offers its workers INSECURITY on that front. Has anyone else noticed this lately? [Sorry for the attempted “gallows humor.”]

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      1. No Hindus or Samoan-Americans need apply.

        Seriously, she could (and would) have beaten Trump. She has all the right qualities. Imagine her taking “heel spur” Trump to task on war, citing her own combat experience? The man with the small hands would wilt away to nothing …

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      2. I’d say it’s more like only one color, green, as in the (formerly “Almighty”!) Greenback Dollar. That’s what it’s all about. And man, when the results of this “printing of new money” finally work their way thru the national economy, you’re gonna see consumer prices heading to the moon! Won’t that be fun??

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    3. Bill A.–I’m still leaning toward Klobuchar (not as my personal preference, but via logical analysis of the situation), though Stacey Abrams went on record the other day as being interested. You haven’t offered to “buy me a drink” if Amy gets the nod! What gives?

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      1. Sure, Greg. But for a bet to work, we both need something to lose. So do you agree to buy me one if it’s my prediction from last April, i.e. Kamala Harris?

        Be careful: The smart money is on a “woman of color.” 🙂

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        1. Ha!! The “smart money” is always throwing funds into the stock market the day before it crashes! Sure, I’ll buy you a drink if I’m wrong. We just have to work out “a few logistics”!

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          1. Last April, Greg, I just had a feeling the DNC would love Biden/Harris. Good ol’ Corporate Joe, supported by a safely “diverse” candidate like Kamala, promising no changes to the status quo. I still think it’s the most likely pairing, but I’ve been wrong before …

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  5. A reader on Facebook made the following comment:

    “Theodore Roosevelt said that America became great by the lavish use of our resources. That is what Trump aspires to, the exploitation of every last resource available to us, in our own country and in every other country. The environment be damned! Legal and moral considerations be damned! Foot to the pedal and full speed ahead!”

    This is well put. Trump is an exploiter — unbridled and unapologetic. No limits, no fear, ethics be damned, health be damned, life be damned, full speed ahead!

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  6. stanmrak’s posting of Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder,perfectly fits The Trumpet.

    There is one more character flaw, the ability to cause Chaos. The Trumpet tosses out everyday some “flash-bang grenade” and CNN and MSDNC will spend hours and hours in excruciating painful analysis. It serves the purpose of diverting the attention.

    Latest “flash-bang grenade” is the protests against the quarantine, which The Trumpet supports. Perhaps he has not thought this through (no surprise) that if he has his flag waving Neo-confederates gathering together that could be a lot less Trumpet voters in November.

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    1. This is another example of Trump’s sociopathic craftiness. He sics his followers on “democrat” governors while feeding them red meat about the 2nd Amendment. That way, he distracts them from the reality he’s given them nothing as president; that, in fact, he’s made their lives materially worse.

      If that doesn’t work, there’s always China … or Obama … or Hillary … or …

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    2. Shall we pray for that result? As a Buddhist, I’m “not supposed to” harbor such sentiments, but I must make an exception for this plague that visited the government effective Jan. 20, 2017. We have suffered–technically, brought upon ourselves, looking at the society collectively–some atrocious Presidents in this country, but Trump really has “distinguished” himself as something different, on a whole other level.

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  7. Another depressingly perceptive column Bill! But I’m not sure about that statement near the end that “Trump is great at one thing: shameless deception. The man knows the craft of the con. He often can fool most of the people most of the time.” I tend to believe he doesn’t fool/con that many (percentage-wise) voters because he doesn’t come-off (at least to me) as at-ALL believable — he never really establishes any credibility, which he could then use to gain people’s confidence and then sell them on the scam. He’s not what I’d call ‘devious’ or ‘shrewd’ like a Madoff or similar scammers — hell, he probably couldn’t even execute the ‘Nigerian prince’ or other low-level boiler-room scams like that. The truth is probably more mundane and dismal than that — a lack of interest by a lot of potential voters, and then a LOT of ‘reflexive Republican’ voters, who follow in their parents’ footsteps and vote Republican out of tradition & habit AND because of the expectation of TAX BREAKS… nothing much deeper than that. Sure there’s a small percentage of Republican voters who might actually believe (or WANT to believe) Trump’s juvenile lies, but most Trump votes are more cynical financial self-interest. Throw in the traditional Republican supporters from the fundamental religious right and the NRA/‘law & order’ authoritarian/religious fundamentalists (anti-abortion, end-of-days,etc) and you’ve got an electorally-assisted POTUS victory. Kind of an Occam’s razor version…

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    1. Eddie S.–Well, you’re onto something here, but…let us not forget that most of your “rank-and-file Evangelicals” are decidedly NOT in the tax brackets that benefit from Trumpian (and he gets no credit for starting the trend, of course) tax breaks. They are voting based on a toxic ideology akin to theology and are incapable of independent thought. And they are concentrated in just the “right” (no pun intended) states to have given DJT the win in Electoral College last time, and I see this pattern repeating, regardless of how badly this admin. may bungle the pandemic. You can offer a True Believer volumes of scientific evidence of how wrongheaded their views are and they ain’t gonna be swayed in the least! This is the sad state of affairs in USA today.

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    1. The Divider/The Uniter. I still remember with crystal clarity that Nixon had a float in his second Inauguration parade (they actually held such a thing in 1973? According to my memory, yes!) that bore the slogan “Bring Us Together Again”!! Oh yeah, he did a helluva job in that realm, didn’t he??

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