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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/28/20

The Coming Civil War Over Trump's Ego

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From Robert Reich Blog


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What is America really fighting over in the upcoming election? No particular issue. Not even Democrats versus Republicans.

The central fight is over Donald J Trump.

Before Trump, most Americans weren't especially passionate about politics. But Trump's MO has been to force people to become passionate about him -- to take fierce sides for or against. And he considers himself president only of the former -- whom he calls "my people."

Trump came to office with no agenda except to feed his monstrous ego. He has never fueled his base. His base has fueled him. Its adoration sustains him.

So does the antipathy of his detractors. Presidents usually try to appease their critics. Trump has gone out of his way to offend them. "I do bring rage out," Trump unapologetically told journalist Bob Woodward in 2016.

In this way, he has turned America into a gargantuan projection of his own pathological narcissism.

His entire re-election platform is found in his use of the pronouns "we" and "them." "We" are people who love him, Trump Nation. "They" hate him.

In late August, near the end of his somnolent address on the South Front of the White House accepting the Republican nomination, Trump extemporized: "The fact is, we're here -- and they're not." It drew a standing ovation.

At a recent White House news conference, a CNN correspondent asked if he condemned the behavior of his supporters in Portland, Oregon. In response, Trump charged: "Your supporters, and they are your supporters indeed, shot a young gentleman."

In Trump's eyes, CNN exists in a different country: Anti-Trump Nation.

So do the putative rioters and looters of "Biden's America." So do the inhabitants of blue states whose state and local tax deductions Trump eliminated in his tax overhaul. So do those who live in the "Democrat cities," as he calls them, whose funding he's trying to cut.

California is a big part of Anti-Trump Nation. He wanted to reject its request for aid battling wildfires "because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn't support him," said former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor.

New York is the capital of Anti-Trump Nation, which probably contributed to Trump "playing down" the threat of COVID-19 last March, when its virulence seemed largely confined to that metropolis. Even now, Trump claims the US rate of COVID-19 deaths would be low "if you take the blue states out." That's untrue, but it's not the point. For Trump, blue states don't count because they're part of Anti-Trump Nation.

To Trump and his core enablers and supporters, the laws of Trump Nation authorize him to do whatever he wants. Anti-Trump Nation's laws constrain him, but they're illegitimate because they are made and enforced by the people who reject him.

So Trump's call to the president of Ukraine seeking help with the election was "perfect." It was fine for Russia to side with him in 2016, and it's fine for it to do so again. And of course the Justice Department, Postal Service, and Centers for Disease Control should help him win reelection. They're all aiding Trump Nation.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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