The Universal Notebook: Fear itself

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As the Trump White House continues to self-destruct amid on-going investigations by the House, Senate and special counsel, and under attack from critics and former allies alike, I cannot imagine Donald J. Trump serving out his term in office. He clearly needs to be removed from office by any legal means.

The United States has lived in a constant state of fear since Trump’s surprise election, one we now know he and his campaign didn’t really want and weren’t prepared for. We see how unprepared he was every day.

My immediate fears are two: that Trump will somehow manage to serve four years and entirely ruin this country, and that we may not be prepared for what happens if he does not. Could Pence be even worse? Would a constitutional crisis plunge the country into chaos and violence?

Specifically, I have been afraid that Trump will try to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a man who is everything Trump is not – intelligent, honest, a veteran and a patriot. But lately I have been even more afraid that he won’t try to fire Mueller.

Should he pull such a stunt, Trump would set himself up for impeachment on the grounds of obstruction of justice. According to his former henchman Steve Bannon, the Trump team is already guilty of collusion, obstruction and treason, but dismissing Mueller would seal the deal for most people. Even our feckless Congress would not stand for it, especially as tens of millions of Americans are prepared to take to the streets within hours of Mueller’s firing.

Trumpian trolls and trollops, however, are experts at neutralizing the fact-finders. Anyone who might disclose the truth about Trump’s insane clown posse – the mainstream media, the intelligence community, the scientific community, the courts – is portrayed to Trump’s base as biased against him, part of a vast dark-state conspiracy against the paranoid self-dealing that is Trump. So we can expect that sad, sorry 32 percent to defend their dear Donald to the dead end that is Trump America.

As long as Trump is in office, the rest of us must live in fear that this ignorant, illiterate and immature man will start wars in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula simply because he can’t keep his tweeter in his pocket. Will the MAGA Red Hats recognize their mistake when people start dying for Trump’s foolhardiness? I doubt it.

We must also live with the knowledge that Trump and his GOP co-conspirators in Congress are, at this very moment, dismantling the social-service network, the health-care system, the consumer and environmental protections and the business regulations that protect the American people from people like Donald J. Trump.

They have already pulled the rug out from under the Affordable Care Act and passed a huge tax break for the corporate rich by calling it tax reform. And they are destroying the very foundations of democracy and undermining the rule of law by refusing to take seriously foreign threats to our election process and by refusing to accept that Trump lost the popular vote, instead impaneling a voter fraud commission that itself was a fraud.

I have written on more than one occasion that Trump’s election was a triumph for ignorance and prejudice, but more than anything it was a victory for fear. Now Trump panders to those fears daily, resorting to campaign mode in order to gin up support for his unprincipled and dysfunctional administration, rather than leading the United States.

People voted for Donald Trump almost entirely out of fear. They suffer from a fear of foreigners, a fear of immigrants, a fear of minorities, a fear of gay people, a fear of Muslims, a fear of women, a fear of losing white male privilege, a fear of their own failures, a fear of being at the bottom of the barrel, a fear of losing their firearms, a fear of their own government and a fear of God.

Frightened people need strong authority figures. They need tough love. They need someone to tell them what to do. They thought they saw that in Trump when what they were looking at was a phony, a petty tyrant, a bully. Now we have all had to live for a year with the daily shame and fear of knowing that our president is unqualified and unstable and that, far from Making America Great Again, he is making America an international laughingstock.

If Trump were an honorable man, he would acknowledge his ineptitude and resign ahead of impeachment. My guess is that he’d like to do just that, but he’s afraid to do so.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

  • Moishe the Beadle

    Omg…as the Mellinials would say while their faces are buried in their i-Phones. Mike Huckabee compared President Trump to PM Churchill after he saw the movie “The Darkest Hour”. I saw it yesterday and totally agree. We have a current crop of Neville Chamberlains in this country on the Left as well as the author of this column…unfortunately. As the saying goes, if it weren’t for the Greatest Generation, we’d all be speaking German. Now, this president, unlike his incompetent predecessor, is trying to keep us all from speaking Arabic. The economy is soaring which will prevent Doprah from becoming the next president to fundamentally change the country, thank God.

  • Queenie42

    As a wise man once said, “We have nothing to fear, except fear itself.”
    With the recent release of the transcript relating to Russia’s involvement in undermining our government (and not just here, but in Europe as well) we have got to give kudos and big thanks to Senator Diane Feinstein for putting country before party, something the Republicans never would do. So, there’s that.
    Then, remember that Mueller has hired a whole team of people who deal in nothing except following the money laundering, the loans, the bribes, the payoffs, the paybacks and that this information they have is given to state investigators. Trump may be able to pardon anyone for federal crimes. He cannot pardon anyone for state crimes. So, there’s that.
    Add to that, the public is seeing the complete mental disintegration of Trump, himself. He owes Putin big time and he has not delivered on his promise to end the sanctions and Putin has the “goods” on Trump, on tape. So Trump is lashing out against the press and against anyone investigating him. This only energizes the “enemies of the people” as he calls them. He is in a panic mode. He has lied and his lies are so numerous that he can’t remember what he said from minute to minute.
    He is toast.
    But he will not be impeached. The numbers are not there. It takes a majority in the House and 67 in the Senate. Dems will have the majority in this next election to impeach, but it would take years to get up to the 67 to convict. And that’s time our country doesn’t have. I hope I am wrong about this.
    We need to replace fear with facts and faith. Unlike when the fascists took over Germany, we have the tools, (internet) the laws, (Mueller) to fight and win and to make darned certain this jihad on our Constitution never happens again.

  • Chew H Bird

    While I am not a fan of our current Oval Office Resident, our author might consider the concept of “fear” from other perspectives… I see Trump as a correction to the flaws of his predecessor. Nobody likes corrections, whether they be well intended or sorely misguided, and the fact that our government has become bigger than itself is a huge problem.

    While I am not generally a fearful person and have little to hide (if anything at all), the fact that we are tracked by camera, IP address, financial transactions, our phones, and we chip our pets (and in some places employees), and sooner or later our kids, tells me we are generally a fearful group.

    When the doorbell rings and we are fearful it is a problem. When we have so little faith in our parenting skills that we don’t allow our children to wait for the bus by themselves we have a problem. When we entrust a kid with a cell phone because we are afraid of what might happen and forget the real dangers such a device holds we have a problem.

    We have raise a generation of fearful people and eventually we will pay the price for our failure to stand up for ourselves. The fear has come from many sources with the biggest source being mass media. We need to teach critical thinking and accept responsibility. Being afraid is the wrong response to our political quagmire.

    • Ted Markow


      However, it seems this fear is not a product of any one administration or corporation, but of a culture of wanting and taking more and more. It is similar to the Roman “bread and circus,” where the people were distracted from the shenanigans of the Senate and caesars and the pauperizing costs of maintaining its far-flung empire.

      Now, we have a mass psychological plan (marketing, advertising, and propaganda) to keep the people addicted to every shiny bauble that is produced, and always wanting more (some would say, needing). This is simple human psychology and we are seeing the effects of it all around the world. I believe it is up to each of us to maintain a healthy lid on what is “enough.”

      Having said that, there are fears, and there are FEARS. Donald Trump presents a real and present danger. His mental instability, and need for ego-gratification and retribution for every slight (real or imagined), is such a danger and the FEAR he engenders is rational.

      I understand some of the struggles and fears that many Americans have. Technology, trade relations, and more are making our lives speed up and many jobs go away, or change significantly. However, as much as I dislike Hillary Clinton, I don’t get voting for Donald Trump, who showed us well in advance that he is unstable, mean-spirited, a habitual liar and self-promoter, a misogynistic sexual predator, a cheater, and more. In short, Trump voters put their faith in someone who has predictably brought chaos to the White House and beyond.

      I can deal with someone I dislike but who is rational – I can’t deal with unremitting chaos. Neither, apparently, can most people. And that engenders FEAR.

  • Little crow

    Your caricature of Trump’s voters indicates that you have yet to meet any of them. Maybe you should do a little homework and talk to some of them. I know lots of liberals and progressives that are good friends and wonderful people, even though I disagree with them on almost everything. By dehumanizing people you are doing a disservice to yourself and your readers.

    • EdBeem

      How does it dehumanize people to say there are primarily motivated by fear? It makes them all the more human. Every Trump voter I know believed things that were simply not true. Ignorance, prejudice and fear define most Trump supporters. Some of his most staunch defenders on these pages are, based on their comments about Obama and Muslims, deeply racist. I stand by every word I wrote.

      • Little crow

        You have made assumptions about people’s motives: that if they voted for Donald Trump they must be ignorant, narrow-minded bigots. Well, many (and I would guess most) voted for Trump because they wanted to bring an end to the lawlessness of the Obama administration and its disastrous foreign policy direction. I think many were like me: Trump was my last choice among Republican candidates, but the only choice against Lady MacBeth.

        • EdBeem

          Lawlessness? Lady MacBeth? That’s what I mean by ignorance. You swallowed the Big Right Lie. Republicans said the US was weak and the economy was in the tank. Neither was true. Trump has destroyed US standing in the world. We’re now Dogpatch USA. Trump is afraid of our allies, kisses the butt of our enemy, and has gutted the State Department so we are weaker than we have ever been. Nope, ignorance, prejudice and fear explain every single vote for Donald J. Trump.

  • EdBeem

    I f you get a chance this MLK Jr. Day,it’s worth re-read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.