By James Ray Owens
It is difficult to govern using moral authority and influence alone; slave owners understood something greater must be used on those under their rule; they often used a whipping post. Slaves were tied to the whipping post and beaten, often for minor infractions, until they no longer served as a threat to their masters.
In Trump’s America, where policy is made over Twitter, the rule of law is taunted and new rules are created impulsively, we are no better than the slave tied to the whipping post. Trump, together with his highly-appointed Steve Bannon, have iron souls. No words can soften their hearts. They believe the show of mercy is a show of weakness. They demand total loyalty, loyalty without question and complete control over the vast landscape of their plantation called America.
Donald Trump is much like the rich plantation owners, and Bannon is much like Trump’s Cracker, and is undoubtedly the brains behind their agenda. What their ultimate agenda is, seems unclear, but we do know some of the parts that make up the whole by what Trump’s actions have done so far.
He promised the people who supported him a different America, and many of those promises he has kept so far, but promises turn into nightmares when you are careless about what you ask for, and the only one who matters is yourself.
Trump has withdrawn from the Trans Pacific Trade Treaty, a 12-nation trade deal America promised to be a part of. He barred federal money from going to foreign non-profits and instituted a hiring freeze on federal workers. He declares he will make good on his promise to his followers to build a great wall to keep the illegal murders and rapists out, but maybe that promise will also act as a two-edged sword and keep the Americans in. He instituted a travel ban on seven countries that have an Islamic majority, that order has been outdone for now, and a new enemy of the people has been created – the judiciary.
He reversed an order to stop the controversial oil pipelines and law enforcement has been building up along the lines of the Dakota Access pipeline. He has also taken away mortgage help for first-time home buyers. Trump owns the land now, not the people.
Trump constantly belittles the press and calls them weak, failing liars whenever they report something not to his liking – which is every day. He is keenly aware the Press is used in a democracy to keep the people well informed about the business of government. Trump and Bannon would like nothing more than to silence the Press. So far, he has attempted to dilute the press by promoting falsehoods in an effort to make the mainstream press seem foolish and biased against him. His own press secretary has spread lies to the news media and to the public, calling his own lies “alternative facts.”
Trump understands the Republican establishment has successfully used fear and lies before. He knows full well that if you tell a lie often enough it eventually becomes the truth in the eyes of a foolish follower.
For those who have opposed him outside of the Press, whether they be foreign governments or sanctuary cities who refuse to detain people due to their immigration status alone, Trump has used threats and intimidation tactics. He has removed federal dollars from cities and threaten nations with blustering about how mighty his military is.
Trump has denounced protests that are a guaranteed right under the First Amendment. He points to incidents of violence at some protests, violence that, in some cases, were likely induced by his own followers. His denunciation is full of the expectation that it will create another movement of a lie to the truth, and in doing so, stop those who dissent. Trump demonizes protestors the same as he demonizes immigrants, or people of other religions.
Mostly, in all he has done, he has challenged this country’s Constitutional authority, along with those institutions created to impose checks and balance on his power. The picture is beginning to emerge to most of us that Trump is the owner of the plantation and we are meant to be his slaves.
As Plato once pointed out, tyranny is probably established under a democracy more easily than any other kind of regime. When a democracy reaches a pinnacle, a tyrant will seize power, Plato wrote. That tyrant, Plato pointed out, will promise to take on the elite, which in turn will make the elite fear him. And the people will follow him until “too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery.”
All who live under him, if not put in check, will become like slaves. We will all feel the weight of the whip on our backs. As James Madison once said of democracies, they “have been as short in their lives, as they have been in violent in their deaths.”