Two interesting things happened almost simultaneously this weekend. Saturday night HBO premiered its “Wizard of Lies” film. The film is about Bernie Madoff who made national and international headlines based on his $50 billion Ponzi scheme, which discovered near the end of 2008. As I watched the film it occurred to me that Madoff made me think about Donald Trump. The enormous ego and bombast seemed interchangeable. This weekend Trump is also on the world stage based on his first trip outside the United States as President. Interestingly enough I become somewhat offended when I hear some of the pundits or TV talking heads stating that Trump is learning on the job. It is mentioned not as a critique but as a compliment.Despite Trump’s obvious unfitness for the job, he gets past after past. As far as Trump as President is concerned, it seems that the Peter Principle is working overtime. Donald Trump has clearly risen to his level of incompetence. When I watched Trump being received in Saudi Arabia despite his biased critiques of Muslims, all I could truly see was a person going through the motions or just acting as President. America’s current President is simply playing a role. He is getting passes that Obama did not receive. He is getting passes that Hillary would not have received.
Before the bottom dropped out of the economy near the end of 2008 Madoff was a respected investor. He held chairmanships on Wall Street. He was known by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); however, he was not under suspicion. The bottom line is he was a well-respected businessman. There is something about money that makes people map on to the person with money an instant respect. As long as one has money, you are okay. You are even seen as qualified to be President. In addition to being seen as a wealthy businessman, Madoff had two sons who worked at his company. The Madoffs were seen as one big happy family that was into making money. People believed in Madoff. His investors followed his advice without question. All the while people were trusting in Madoff, he was simply conning them out of their money. Some investors lost everything because they trusted in Madoff. When it was revealed that he had spent years taking from people who trusted him, their adoration swiftly turned to anger. When Madoff was eventually sentenced to 120 years in prison, the judge received a standing ovation.
Donald Trump made many grandiose promises while he was running for President. We are constantly told that White, non-college educated, working class males formed the backbone of Trump’s base. We have also witnessed inexplicable polling that suggests that even during the reporting on the problems engulfing the Trump White House, he still has the backing of the White male working class in particular and Republicans in general. It should also be noted that 53 percent of White woman voted for Trump. The irony is that he ran on a pledge to repeal and replace Obama care. Now it seems as if a certain portion of his base would be hurt by such a move. As a matter of fact, most of what Trump has promised and delivered thus far will hurt or hurts his base. What do Republicans have against clean air and water? What do Republicans have against prenatal maternity care? What do Republicans have against caring for the sick? What’s wrong with insisting that the police not on enforce the law, but abide by the law themselves?
The Trump Administration is currently under investigation. Yet, Trump is still in power. He is still issuing executive orders to roll back Obama era policies. On the international scene the Trump Administration will not pay any attention to human rights or try to promote civil liberties. Trump has already gone on record as being in favor of torture. He has a fascination with dictators and feels constrained by the rule of law. After all of this is said and done I wonder will the judge or Donald Trump receive the standing ovation?
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”