Early in this millennium, Mississippi’s Trent Lott was the Senate’s Majority Leader. Then it was disclosed that he had done something outside the bounds of what most Americans considered “normal” and acceptable. Lott had spoken favorably about Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Presidential candidacy on a platform of racial segregation. So he had to go.
Favorable comments about a segregationist were enough to unseat a national leader fifteen years ago. This was considered a major scandal, and a short time after his comments were revealed, Lott was forced to resign his leadership position in the Senate.
That is what “normal” used to mean. That was then, this is now.
Breitbart is a “news” website, which was until recently run by Steve Bannon. It is a far-right outlet that promotes “alt-right” concepts often involving white nationalism.
Bannon often refers to what he calls a “‘Camp of the Saints’-type invasion” to describe what he sees as a rising tide of threats to Western civilization. When he says these things, Bannon is referring to a 1973 French novel that “describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague,” and “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.”
Steve Bannon, race-baiting propagandist, is now the White House Chief Strategist. Yet this is not a national scandal.
In fact, Bannon is not the only “alt -right” person in the Trump White House. Other Breitbart staffers are also getting jobs in the new administration, as are other far-right figures. It is said that White House alt-right figures removed reference to the genocide of Jewish people in the White House’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.
This is not normal.
President Trump recently accused former president Obama of a massive criminal conspiracy involving abusing presidential power to “wiretap” Trump’s campaign to help Trump’s opponent. This is , to say the least, not normal.
The White House has begun sending Americans a daily state-propaganda email “newsletter” called “Your 1600 Daily.” It is sent unsolicited, in violation of the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act. It comes from an official White House government email address, and is signed by “The White House. ”
One day this briefing advertised a meeting with “victims of Obamacare.” Another asks Americans to “Share Your Obamacare Disaster Story With President Trump.” Wednesday’s makes the claim, “Under his leadership, the United States will be the world’s great magnet for innovation and job creation.”
It promotes extremist news outlets like Townhall, and white nationalist outlets like Breitbart.
This is just not normal. In other times this, too, would be a major scandal.
And then there is the blatant moneymaking. Last week China granted Trump a number of lucrative trademarks, after Trump broke a campaign promise to declare China as a currency manipulator, which would have initiated a process that could lead to tariffs on Chinese-made goods entering the country.
This week we learn that the family of Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner will make at least $400 million in “a sweetheart deal” with a Chinese-government-connected firm.
But there are a number of red flags surrounding the transaction, and no way to rule out concerns that this represents just the latest instance of potential conflicts between the Trump administration’s obligation to the public and its own financial gain.
And that’s just a taste of the financial shenanigans going on. For example, despite Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington from the influence of lobbyists, his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has started a lobbying firm. See if you can guess what he’s selling to clients.
Fox News commentator Monica Crowley was asked to join the Trump White House, but had to back out after it was disclosed that she had engaged in plagiarism. Now it is reported that she is going to work as a lobbyist for Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian billionaire and Putin supporter. She’s making big bucks, because she has influence with the Trump White House. That is just a recent example of so many examples of corruption.
But wait, there’s more. The President of the United States is holding campaign rallies just one, two months into presidency. And he is raising “campaign funds” from donors. What?
Meanwhile the Republicans in Congress, in the thrall of corporate cash and billionaires, assist their benefactors rather than do their Constitutional duty to hold these people accountable.
This is like the story of the frog in boiling water. The water is starting to boil, but because the warming happens slowly, the frog gets used to it and doesn’t notice it is cooking.
What’s going on here is not normal. They are so much not normal and happening so fast that we risk becoming desensitized to what normal means.
So a reminder: This is not normal. Do not allow yourself to ease into any level of acceptance of this, or a belief that what is happening in our country is part of a pattern or a political pendulum that will swing the other way or a back and forth between parties or think checks and balances are going to save us and our nation.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their OurFuture site. I am a Fellow with CAF, a project of People’s Action. Sign up here for the OurFuture daily summary and/or for People’s Action’s Progressive Breakfast.