How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

The President is nefarious

After one and a half years of the Trump presidency, I've come to the conclusion that the adjective that best describes our President is "nefarious." Nefarious is defined as wicked. Synonyms of the word include: evil, sinful, iniquitous, heinous, atrocious, vile, foul, abominable, odious, depraved, monstrous, fiendish, diabolical, unspeakable, and despicable.

Supporters of our President will, no doubt, take umbrage at my using such a derogatory word to describe the President. Let me make it abundantly clear - I respect the Office of President in the same way I do the flag of our country. The flag and the office are symbols of a great nation that have been the beacon and bastion in the world for liberty, freedom, equality, decency and democracy.

Words matter. In this regard, I criticized Hillary for employing the term "deplorables" and questioned the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg for describing President Trump as a "faker." Nonetheless, I believe the time for being circumspect, when it comes to President Trump, is over. His latest actions on the international scene are harrowing and threaten the fundamental world order. Over and over again he has demonstrated greater comfort with dictators and despots than with heads of democracies.

However, respecting the Office of the President and our flag should not mean we have blind fealty to either. It is our responsibility as Americans to "never to deny our own experience or conviction" (Dag Hammarskjold, former United Nations Secretary General). I love my country and the values for which it has stood throughout Republican and Democratic administrations. However, what is going on in the White House is not consistent with our past values and traditions. Dan Rather, the former news anchor, got it right when he recently said that the Trump presidency is "not normal." It is cowardly for Republican leaders to sit idly by and allow Donald Trump to disgrace his office and trash our democracy.

President Donald Trump choice of words is designed with one nefarious purpose in mind - to reinforce his support among his base by exploiting their attitudes about race, immigration, gender, and L.G.B.T. issues. His early support of the racist conspiracy theory known as birtherism, declaring an "America First" culture war in his Inaugural Address, labeling Mexicans as "rapists," attacking a Federal Judge of Mexican decent, instituting a travel ban and selective immigration quotas, opposing transgender folks serving in the military, a tepid response to the Klan and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, treating refugee and immigrants in a reprehensible manner, referring to African nations as "shithole countries," are all part of a comprehensive effort to appeal to white American tribalism or hatred either implicitly or explicitly through racism and xenophobia.

Make no mistake about it; Donald Trump is willing to do whatever it takes including, as David Remnick wrote in The New Yorker, "Imperil the civil peace and the social fabric of his country simply to satisfy his narcissism and to excite the worst inclinations of his core followers." The President's core supporters have decided that racism and xenophobia are not moral disqualifiers for holding the Office of the President.

Michael Gerson, in a recent article in The Atlantic on why Evangelicals have remained loyal to President Trump wrote, "Democracy is not merely a set of procedures. It has a moral structure. The values we celebrate or stigmatize eventually influence the character of people and polity. Democracy does not insist on perfect virtues from its leaders. But there is a set of values that lend authority to power: empathy, honest, integrity, and self-restraint. And the legitimization of cruelty, prejudice, falsehood, and corruption is the kind of thing, one would think, that religious people were born to oppose, not bless."

The bar for impeachment was intentionally set very high by our founding fathers - no definitive evidence yet has been put forth that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power to undermine our country's electoral integrity or that President Trump has or is cooperating with a foreign power in a way that compromises our nation's security. Being nefarious is not an impeachable offense, but it is very dangerous for our democracy to have the presidency in the hands of someone willing to undermine the standards of public integrity, the free press, the findings of his own Justice Department regarding acts of cyberwar and the sanctity of an independent judiciary.

When Colin Kaepernick choose to kneel during the anthem, he indicated that their action was a form of peaceful protest to draw attention to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality. Keapernick said "I am not going to stand up to a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." The NFL kneelers, the students who have been peacefully protesting for changes in the gun laws and those who are speaking-up regarding President Trump's unprecedented actions are all fulfilling their patriotic duty.

We should not sit idly by as President Trump continues to disgrace and denigrate our constitutional democracy, our liberal democratic values and the presidency. As President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president."