Chaos and Confusion on the Ship of State
Robert A. Levine
How long can the political insanity persist? How long can the country function with a crazed captain at the helm, disregarding his navigators and willing to chance driving the ship of state aground? He seems to have no destination in mind and ignores the rocks when he guides the vessel close to the shoreline. There’s never been a captain as foolhardy and unwilling to take advice from naval experts. His only principles seem to be self-preservation and remaining at the helm, accepting worshipful praise from his adoring acolytes. And to hell with those who disagree with him on or off the ship, spreading fake news and even suggesting that a mutiny may be brewing. What nonsense!
The captain is willing to lie frequently to the passengers on the ship and those on land because he lies to himself constantly, believing that his perceptions of the world are genuine and that his reality is what is real. That is, whatever boosts his ego is valid. And if someone stands up to him and contradicts him, pointing out his mistakes and misconceptions, that person is thrown overboard, as criticism is not permitted aboard the USS Trump. Sycophants or lackeys preferred on the ship of state.
Of course, this makes governing difficult as there are many sailors and officers aboard who disagree with the captain’s perceptions and the course on which he is taking the country. But if he is gently questioned about the voyage, he may have no answers, or some that make no sense, as he himself is unsure of where he is going and the outcomes he desires. Or if he does have answers they may be fleeting, as he often changes his mind from moment to moment, then fabricates an explanation for why the change was reasonable. However, while many of the passengers may be confused, a number of the sailors have accepted his words as gospel along with a proportion of those who are landlubbers.
Captain T has convinced many of his countrymen that what he tells them is true and that the captains of the other ships and the media are lying, purveying fake news and trying to make him look bad. And his acolytes concur, nodding their heads, clapping their hands and yelling at every word he says. There is no holding him to account, asking about the promises he made that were never fulfilled and wondering about the turnover in his officer corps. Why did so many who signed on for his administration leave or were fired? Why have so many of his advocates become disaffected and regard his captaincy as a major mistake? Why has he fawned over authoritarian adversaries and gone out of his way to antagonize the nation’s allies? What happened to the infrastructure spending and tax cuts for the middle class? What happened to the trade war that was going to be easy to win?
We will not know his destination until the voyage is over. We will not recognize the damage he has wrought on the ship of state until it is berthed again and has a new crew. We will not know if the changes he has made can be easily overturned or whether they will last for decades. We will not discover the lies he has told about himself and sold to his disciples until the new crew holds him to task, making his taxes and other documents transparent as he himself had promised to do, then reneged. Whether the voyage lasts a few more months or two more years, Captain T has had a profound long-term negative effect upon the nation’s economy with his tax cut for the rich and the trade wars he has initiated, in spite of the economy’s current success. He has also fostered more racial and class antagonism than any American leader in the past century, a wound that will be difficult to heal.