Like an Abused Woman, America Now Needs a Clear Exit Strategy — Away from Donald Trump
Political pundits are atwitter over Donald Trump’s pronouncement on Wednesday that there will be no peaceful transition of power if he loses the upcoming election. He could not have been more explicit regarding his authoritarian intent. There can be no doubt now that we’ve entered the final phase in the rabid dogfight for American democracy.
Over the past couple of weeks, as I pondered the trajectory of my career that preceded political commentary, I came to the profound realization that my professional coaching experience has contributed greatly to a deeper understanding of America’s political dilemma. Indeed, if America were a woman who had sought my counsel and recounted to me the horror she had endured over the last four years, I would have arrived at the unmistakable conclusion that I was dealing with a severely traumatized woman — one who had been mentally, emotionally, psychologically and, yes, legally abused. What would have made her story especially compelling is that her abuser is a famous and powerful man — the leader of the free world, in fact — the most lawless, corrupt president America has likely seen.
References to America often elicit “she/her” pronouns; we refer to “her” as often as we do “she.” Therefore, allow me the latitude to articulate the social contract America has with Donald within the context of an intimate relationship.
Without a single doubt, the courtship began with a sublimely charismatic, highly inappropriate suitor, shrewdly cloaked in a public image crafted over several decades. From the late 1980s, Donald had much of the press lapping up his “successful businessman” schtick. To Marie Brenner from Vanity Fair, however, he was “a carnival barker trying to fill his tent.” In her now-famous 1990 essay “The Gold Rush,” in which she detailed an already-long litany of Donald’s lies and business shenanigans, Brenner reported one of his lawyers remarking, “Donald is a believer in the big-lie theory. If you say something again and again, people will believe you.” Even back then, his roving eye was already on another woman despite his relationship with America. Her name was Russia. Indeed, Brenner took prescient note that Donald had already been on the news shows offering his services to negotiate with the Russians. But it was her reporting that Donald’s soon-to-be-ex first wife, Ivana, had tried coyly to warn America about his fascist proclivities that so incensed him that he subsequently sought out Brenner at Tavern on the Green restaurant and poured a glass of wine down her back.
What did Ivana divulge? That among Donald’s prized possessions was a collection of Hitler’s speeches, My New Order, which reveal Hitler’s extraordinary ability as a master propagandist. Donald, according to Ivana, kept it in a bedside cabinet and would read it “from time to time.” Donald’s cousin John Walter, Ivana also confided, would click his heels and proclaim, “Heil Hitler” when he greeted Donald in his office, “possibly as a family joke.”
Mary L. Trump, Donald’s niece, a trained clinical psychologist, recently removed any vestiges of illusion that America had bagged a “trophy husband.” The Trump family, Mary revealed, was not one America should have aspired to have as “in-laws.” Mary’s tell-all book, which sold nearly one million copies on the day of its release, brought the receipts. In meticulous detail, Mary revealed not only how her family “created the world’s most dangerous man” but also that the family is fully conscious of the monster their acute generational dysfunction and toxicity have created. Mary is clear: Donald is a sociopath, patterned after — and molded by — his own sociopathic father, Fred. Donald’s older sister Maryanne is also clear: Donald has “no principles” and “you can’t trust him.”
From the 2016 election campaign, it should have been obvious to all that Donald’s character and temperament disqualified him as a suitable candidate for any kind of marriage with America. He outrageously and crassly bragged that, by virtue of his fame, he felt entitled to grab women — married or not— “by the pussy.” He had already been unfaithful to each of his three wives, fathering five children between them, without active involvement in their care.
Many people still don’t connect why past infidelity in relationships or the faithfulness of a potential candidate to their spouse is important, or even relevant, in selecting a president. But if a person cannot be faithful to their spouse, the one they claim to love enough to undertake a lifetime vow before God, then why would their vow to remain faithful to the Constitution — which matters less in real terms — be believable?
Perhaps, as in our personal relationships, we should be examining more closely how those “rich, successful businessman” became so, while looking for qualities that transcend circumstances — qualities that will guide actions and problem solving from season to season. You know, “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others…” Qualities like integrity, honor, humility and generosity of spirit matter, as does the ability to serve others and a cause greater than oneself. These are the qualities that make a person great. These are the leadership qualities that will make America great again.
All the tells were evident before Donald became president that his racism, xenophobia, misogyny and pathological mendacity did not portend a good match — certainly not according to America’s stated ideals. Yet, her archaic Electoral College system countersigned the “marriage certificate,” akin to heavy-handed parents with outdated views signing over their daughter like chattel in a marriage of contractual convenience. Effectively, they overruled the rival suitor America had chosen by popular vote, giving legitimacy to an increasingly gerrymandered system in which two of our last three presidents have not been a love match. And, as happens with most ill-fated marriages, once the “wedding festivities” that comprised the presidential inauguration were over, it quickly became apparent to anyone unencumbered by rose-colored spectacles that America was fucked right from the honeymoon.
America’s Grounds for Divorce
I could list the litany of offenses that Donald Trump has committed against America since January 20, 2017.
I could reference the more than 20,000 lies he has told her in the past four years since entering office.
I could spotlight the Playboy bunnies and porn stars with whom he has had tawdry extramarital affairs and used election campaign funds to coerce their silence, plus 26 other women who have credibly accused him of sexual misconduct — even rape.
I could address the repulsively racist remarks, tweets and dog whistles that Donald has consistently deployed to goad neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups within his base toward subversive anarchy involving armed militias, which this country has not seen since the decades-long civil rights movement of the 1950s–1960s.
I could present the xenophobic policies that Donald has initiated to fuel hatred and violence against people who look and worship differently than his white, fundamentalist Christian base.
I could demonstrate the ways in which Donald has infiltrated an already-corrupt Church and partners with them to propagate fascist disinformation campaigns that mimic their indoctrination methods.
I could highlight how Donald, instead of “draining the swamp” in Washington as he promised, has swapped out its water lizards for contemptible crocodiles, mutually intent on converting America into a full-blown kleptocracy.
I could point to the fact that, by a complete sleight of hand executed by former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Donald’s appointee, America’s FBI counterintelligence still doesn’t know definitively whether Donald is a Russian agent.
I could underscore the exact lines within the Mueller Report which show that Donald received no exoneration from the crimes Mueller and his team were convinced had been committed by him.
I could reiterate the exhaustive list of associates directly linked to crimes committed on Donald’s behalf who have now been indicted or imprisoned since Donald entered the Oval Office.
I could issue a reminder that, for reasons that were the furthest from a “witch hunt,” Donald was properly impeached by the House of Representatives but saved from removal by a hyper-partisan, Republican-controlled Senate that has abandoned its constitutional responsibilities as a “check and balance” on executive power.
I could showcase the truly extraordinary list of criminal indictments, lawsuits and prison time that Donald knows he will likely face once he is removed from office, which may well be the reason he seeks to execute a “hostile takeover” of the federal government.
I could provide more evidence of Donald’s intent to become America’s first authoritarian ruler, complete with secret police and a lawless attorney general committed to protecting the constitutionally unlawful acts of an unabridged mob boss touting himself the “president of law and order.”
Indeed, I could cite the 200,000 Americans who now lay dead from Covid-19 as a result of Donald’s criminal negligence and willful disregard for human life — acts of democide — even as he determines to put another 215 million American lives at risk of contracting coronavirus from which roughly 6.4 million Americans could die to achieve “herd immunity.”
On and on. And on.
Donald’s atrocities, indiscretions and clear abuse of power are well-documented now for posterity. But facts are seemingly irrelevant to his enablers — it’s all a “Democratic hoax.” Others, quite frankly, don’t care. Or are disillusioned into thinking they are powerless to change things.
On the coaching side of my consulting practice, I have listened to many a woman who has spent years with an entirely unsuitable, abusive man. A man seemingly incapable of change or becoming an adequate — forget exemplary — husband or father. Even after such a man has repeatedly and unrepentantly disgraced his marital vows, she still vacillates between whether to stay or leave. Still deludes herself with misguided notions about forgiveness. Still gives more weight to the position, prestige and financial security she believes the man brings to the table than to her own mental, emotional and psychological state. For years, she succumbs to learned helplessness — the rationalizations and justifications which ultimately render her incapable of formulating a cohesive and strategic plan to leave. For her own sanity. For her own self-respect. For her own safety. But leave she must. If only to remember who she is, her own value and self-worth. Inevitably, until she learns the lesson that someone who has no respect for her cannot love her, the brazenness of disrespect only escalates.
America is that woman now. And she now needs a clear exit strategy for her own safety — away from Donald Trump.
It’s Not About Whom We Attract; It’s About Whom We Choose
America is now entrenched in the kind of bitter till-death-do-us-part standoff memorialized in the dark comedy, “War of the Roses.” By the end of the movie, after a hilariously outrageous, epic battle of wits, replete with dangerous hyperbole, the storyteller divorce lawyer presents his client with two options: either proceed with the divorce and face a horrific bloodbath in court, or go home to his wife to settle their differences amicably. Donald has made it clear he will not entertain that latter option— he’s a demagogue. Therefore, America must now choose the former — divorce.
The date for the dissolution of the marriage, United States of America v. Donald Trump, is set for November 3. This is what is on the ballot. The “decree absolute” may well end up in the Supreme Court stacked with Donald’s appointees. But America must stay the course. Otherwise, her Constitution — the very basis of her democracy and freedoms — will not survive.
Countless times, I’ve advised my clients, “When the circumstances we manifest do not match the vision we have for our lives, invariably, it is the foundation upon which we have built those lives that needs a complete overhaul.” Undoubtedly, this, too, is the lesson for America. Systemic racism, income inequality and health disparities do not reflect America’s foundational principles. Therefore, the systems that created these mutations must be reengineered.
America’s relationship with Donald Trump and the lack of decency she’s accepted from him may more accurately reflect prevailing family dysfunction and the zeitgeist of this millennium than she cares to admit. But on November 3, America will have to decide. Will her foundation be love or hate? Truth or pathological lies? Justice or injustice? Honor or dishonor?
Nineteen aides, allies and family members have now braved Donald’s wrath — and his foul, rabble-rousing tweet storms — to say he is a clear and present danger to our democracy. Every reputable reporter worth their salt says the same, the latest being the renowned Bob Woodward, who has, arguably, written the “first drafts” of history regarding our past nine presidents. After examining all the evidence he accumulated over several months for his latest book, Rage, which meticulously collates 18 recorded conversations with Donald Trump, Woodward came to the unmistakable conclusion that Donald is “the wrong man for the job.”
After everything that has transpired over the last four years, it seems almost inconceivable that the polls could still be this close between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But Donald has solicited Russia’s strongman to help tighten his stranglehold on America. Indeed, all hands are on Tweetdeck muddying the water with disinformation, stymying the processes that could bring America a new suitor. Politics has become an open cesspool that many principled people wanting to serve this country do their best to avoid. Foreign interference, hyper-partisan coarseness, death threats and doxxing are but the tip of that toxic iceberg. And increasingly, it is “the bramble” that now rule.
Nevertheless, on November 3, America must remember that it’s not about whom she may attract — the bramble — it’s about whom she chooses. And rejects.
Victims and survivors of domestic abuse and violence are urged to call the national hotline at 1–800–799–7233. But which “hotline” can America now dial to report domestic abuses of power by the president of the United States, the Senate, the Department of Justice and federal judges who think the Constitution is a mere suggestion? There’s none. Worse, who will stage an intervention? The FBI? They already know the score, but they have seemingly been neutered or have lost their way with the arrest warrant for the abuser.
Meanwhile, like many abused women, America continues to be humiliated while the world stands aloof, albeit in horror. She desperately needs her “tribe” now — her true patriots — to rescue her en masse by mail-in ballot, early voting, or at the polls on election day. The stakes have never been higher. Truly.
RELATED INFO: To report voting rights issues, ensuring a free and fair election, the national hotline is 1–866-OUR-VOTE.