OP-ED: Joe Biden’s Exigent Task: Cleaning Up Trump’s Quagmire. It Won’t be Easy. The Outgoing President Has Polluted Our Politics And Added To The Swamp

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Author’s Note: This is the 18th in a series of occasional political columns that I wrote for CommPRO.biz  until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI: My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this final column of the series, I write about how history will remember the 2020 election and how Trump’s actions were similar to those of Adolph Hitler.)

Arthur Solomon

At 12 noon on January 20, President-elect Joe Biden became President Joe Biden. He has inherited many problems from his incompetent, delusional, egotistic, self- absorbed and fabulist predecessor that he will have to solve. The one that most immediately affects all Americans is stopping the spread of the coronavirus. But his most difficult task will be having the American public regain trust in America’s political institutions.

Despite President Trump’s evil and divisive efforts, democracy held. His attempted coup failed. But the results of his immoral and corrupt conduct, aided by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy over the past four years, will remain part of America for years. 

Joe Biden is now the president of the U.S., but the 2020 election proved that our democracy is fragile, as the overwhelming number of GOP elected officials stood mute while a fabulist, dictatorial-inclined president claimed that the election was rigged and stolen from him, even as more than 60 court filings were rejected for lack of evidence.

History will remember the 2020 election as the one that came thisclose to transforming the U.S. from a democratic republic into a dictatorial banana republic with Trump as the big enchilada. History will also remember Trump as the president who golfed while hundreds of thousands people died from Covid-19 and millions more suffered economically while the president probably cheated on his score card.

As Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia University wrote in the December 10 New York Times, it wasn’t the written Constitution that blocked President Trump. It was our unwritten Constitution. “What really saved the Republic from Mr. Trump was a different set of limits on the executive: an informal and unofficial set of institutional norms upheld by federal prosecutors, military officers and state elections officials. You might call these values our “unwritten constitution.” Whatever you call them, they were the decisive factor,” he wrote.

The lies of President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and other Trumpists will be remembered for causing Americans to distrust the facets of our government, many of which are to protect us from foreign and American disinformation efforts. History will record Trump as the president who created mistrust in America’s elections, its election officials, courts, the FBI, CIA and any facet of media that opposes him. 

In addition, the impeached, disgraced, delusional president has blood on his hands for his inept handling of the coronavirus and discarding the advice of his administration’s own medical scientists by holding rallies and other ceremonies devoid of mask wearing and social distancing, and by convincing his followers to follow his advice rather than their state governors and medical experts. As of this writing on January 20, more than 400,000 Americans have died from the disease on his watch. According to many medical scientists, that’s a low figure; many more have died from Covid-19 that has not officially been reported, they say.

The thoroughly defeated former President Trump could help restore confidence in our government by telling his followers that he was wrong and that the election was fairly conducted. (But admitting failure is not in his DNA. Lying and finding scapegoats is.)

The election of Joe Biden, in our history books, will take a back seat to the propaganda techniques used by Trump, who copied the Nazi playbook that eventfully gave Hitler control of the German government and overthrew the democratic Weimer Republic in the 1930’s. 

In 2015, during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s campaign tactics mirrored those of Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, his minister of propaganda for the German Third Reich. Trump, as did the Nazi regime, falsely accused all who opposed him of being criminals, communists, socialists and enemies of the state. Trump, as did the Nazis, called for the jailing of his political opponents. He made the Nazi’s Big Lie and Fake News accusations a cornerstone of his presidency. Once Trump became president his autocratic beliefs became apparent to all but his fanatic adherents. (The pro-Trumpers that I personally know blindly dismissed his fracturing of American democracy, even though Trump made no effort to hide his intentions by demanding complete loyalty from those in his government, even if it meant disregarding the Constitution and breaking laws.)

Sorrowfully, the overwhelming majority of Republican congressmen failed to stand up for democracy during the four years of his deplorable reign. Sorrowfully, the overwhelming majority of Republican senators failed to stand up for democracy during the four years of his deplorable reign. Sorrowfully, most civilian supporters of Trump, as well as GOP elected officials, turned a blind eye to organizations like Republican Voters against Trump and The Lincoln Project that warned of his autocratic tendencies. 

Americans and a majority of the elected Republican’s in the House, 106 of them, and 17 GOP state attorney generals supported Trump’s efforts to overthrow an election in which Joe Biden won many more electoral votes and more than seven million more popular votes than Trump. That’s scary. It proves that there are a large percentage of Americans and elected officials who are willing to back an autocratic candidate and that our democracy should not be taken for granted. The Weimer Republic took their democracy for granted and it resulted in Hitler taking over what was a democratic government. It happened in Germany It can happen here. It almost did.

It wasn’t until after the Electoral College voted for Biden on December 14 that leading Republican members of the Senate went public and acknowledged that Biden was the president-elect. But by then the damage that Trump had done to American democracy over the past four years was evident: Democratic members of the Electoral College had to meet in secure facilities, and needed police protection from Trump fanatics who threatened them, so that they could fulfill their constitutional obligations.

Apologists for the silence of the GOP leadership, until after the Electoral College voting was concluded, say “better late than not.” My take is that the Republican’s not acknowledging that Biden was constitutionally elected for almost six weeks after November 3 is that their finally speaking up is “better late than never,” but they now have the stain of Trump markers in their DNA for contributing to the distrust of American institutions both prior to, during and after the election.

Even worse was Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric that led to the storming of Congress on January 6 during the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes. It was the low point of his attempted coup to change the United States from a democratic republic to a country ruled by a deranged autocratic would-be ruler. There were many actions during his flawed presidency that Trump deserves to be legally punished for. Hopefully, he will be.

Before the 2020 election, many anti-Trumpers worried that the damage Trump has done to American democracy might be impossible to repair if he is reelected. A major task of Joe Biden will be to convince the American public to not believe in Trump’s “dark state” and to trust the government. It will not be easy. It will probably take more than the four years of his presidency. But if trust cannot again be regained, our democracy will remain as fragile as it was under Trump.

During World War 2, Americans came together to defeat the Axis of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and the empire of Japan, in a war that threatened to put the world under the control of totalitarian governments. 

Beginning right now, Americans must come together to erase the totalitarian poisonous weeds that have sprouted under the Trump presidency. It must be rooted out never to grow again. And it must start right now.

In a previous column, I compared some of Trump’s actions to characters in William Shakespeare’s dramas. But there’s a more modern play that I saw whose protagonist reminds me of President Trump. It is “The Madness of George III” on Broadway in 1993. It is a fictionalized play by Alan Bennett, which imagines the battle the king who lost America had with mental illness during the last half of his reign. As I recall the comedy-drama, the lead character reminds me of Donald John Trump, whose delusional 

actions during the last days of his presidency, from November 3 to January 20, will surely be recreated in movies and Broadway plays, as well as being the subject of medical books written by psychiatrists who study people with abnormal personality disorders.

Some months ago, a pro-Trump relative of mine said, “No matter what you think of Trump politically, don’t you agree that he has to be respected because of the office he holds?” “Not respecting the person doesn’t men disrespecting the office of the president,” I replied, “and I most definitely do not respect the current office holder.”

Along the same vein, some right wing pundits are now saying that prosecuting Trump for illegal activities once he leaves office would make the United States similar to the banana republic that so many anti-Trumpers accuse the president’s actions of imitating. I reject that fallacious argument. After Trump attempted to rule like an autocrat and destroy American democracy, I believe that if the evidence shows him committing crimes he should be held to the same standard of justice as anyone else. (A good argument can be made that he should be held to a higher standard because he committed crimes against the U.S. as president.)

Dramatizations show the British playing the tune “The World Turned Upside Down” after surrendering at Yorktown, the pivotal battle of the U.S. Revolutionary War.

While there is no historical record proving the above is more than a fable, there is overwhelming current evidence showing that President Donald John Trump created a universe in which “The World (was) Turned Upside Down” during his presidency. His legacy will be that of a president who believes lies are truth and truth are lies, that honest elections are rigged and those who conduct honest elections are thieves, that lawbreakers are patriots and true patriots who uphold the Constitution are the law breakers.

As I remember his presidency, there are too many of what are his most reprehensible actions to list them in one article.  So, I’ll just nominate the one that I believe deserves to top the list: Donald John Trump’s numerous attempts to change the United States from a constitutional democratic republic into an autocratic country ruled by a delusional, egotistic, deranged, dangerous, dishonest, scam artist would-be dictator.

Even before he was inaugurated, on January 19 the difference between a Biden and Trump administration was seen by millions of Americans who tuned in to witness the tribute to the 400,000 Americans who died of Covid-19. Whereas Trump had to be the center of every TV event, Biden spoke for only several seconds, letting the memorial ceremony speak for it self.

The stark difference between the new and former president was also evident during Biden’s acceptance speech on January 20. Biden’s talk was delivered in a calm manner, asking for Americans to unite. Trump’s speeches were always confrontational, accusing his opponents of being enemies of the state that were out to destroy him and America, saying that “only I can save the country.”

The twice-impeached Trump began his campaign for the presidency with a lie on June 16, 2016, by accusing Mexico of sending people bringing drugs, criminals and rapists to the U.S. 

At 10:30 a.m. on January 20, the Associated Press reported, “In his final remarks as president, Donald Trump tried to take credit for accomplishments of his predecessor and even those to come under President Joe Biden. 

Falsehoods suffused his farewell remarks Wednesday morning and the night before, though he was spot on with this: “We were not a regular administration,” said the article.

Trump began his quest for the presidency with a lie and ended it by telling more that 3500 lies, according to the Washington Post fact checkers. (Regardless what you think of him no one can say that he was inconsistent.)

President Biden’s inauguration ended the most shameful episode in U.S. history. There have been awful presidents, good presidents, so so presidents and great presidents. There have been honest presidents and dishonest presidents. But not until President Trump has there been a president who attempted a coup in order to remain in office after losing an election. 

While this is the last in the series of political columns that I have authored until the swearing in of President Joe Biden, stayed tuned. Surely Trump’s post-president activities will lend itself to future columns. And he must be watched. He was a danger to our democracy while in office, and still is, just as Hitler was when he was jailed.

German history shows that Hitler was jailed for treason in 1924 but when he was released he continued his campaign to radicalize the German people. I have no doubt that from his Redoubt not far from the Everglades swamp, filled with alligators, snakes and other dangerous species, with die-hard slimy Trump supporters nearby adding to the danger, the disgraced former president will continue his quest to undermine American democracy.

While I don’t wish him ill health, if there is such a place as Political Hell, he should be confined there forever.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.