HOW DANGEROUS IS DONALD TRUMP?
Von Jeffrey D. Sachs, Bandy X. Lee und Ruth Ben-Ghiat
New York University and expert on authoritarian regimes and their rulers.
Bandy X. Lee
is a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, an expert on violence and is chair of the World Mental Health Coalition.
Jeffrey D. Sachs
is an economist and since 2002 special advisor to the Millennium Development Goals. He is director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
[This article published on the German union website gegenblende in August 2019 is translated from the German on the Internet.]
In his campaign for reelection, Donald Trump resorts to his election campaign of 2016: He stirs up racism and fear of conspiracies. He seems more and more angry and confused, which suggests a further decline of his mental abilities. But even without these signs of dementia, Trump is a threat to his country and the world. There are enough reasons for impeachment.
Since Donald Trump was elected US President, psychotherapists have warned of the dangers emanating from him. Trump’s extreme narcissism, his sadism, his lack of empathy and his admiration for despots are everyday. Some would like to see a selfish clown in him, but he is obviously an ubiquitous danger to the world. Therefore, he must be prevented from leading them into disaster.
Trump’s vengeance and megalomania are on the increase
With the report of special investigator Robert Mueller, the dangers have increased many times over. We did not get to see the whole text – just a version with blackening and a dry statement by the Special Investigator, which did not go much further. But Mueller’s conclusion that Trump had not made any collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin has encouraged Trump to return to attack. What makes the assessment of the Mueller report particularly catastrophic is the fact that it considered the detectable contacts as non-punishable. The public was told lies about this during Trump’s election in 2016, when Trump quietly tried to complete a massive real estate deal in Moscow…
Trump will feel reassured in his vengeance and megalomania. For the last few weeks and months, Trump has repeatedly mocked the late US Senator John McCain and did not say a word of regret over the fifty Muslim deaths slaughtered in New Zealand by a white nationalist. To justify the massacre, the shooter as well as the killer of El Paso expressly referred to Trump. But when criticized, Trump spends days on Twitter maligning his enemies. He uses rallies and other public occasions to formulate a policy that sees humanism and compassion as weaknesses rather than basic human values.
Trump’s increasing tantrums may be partly due to a cognitive decline. For example, his ability to form complete sentences, use complex words, and maintain a coherent train of thought seems to have diminished over time. Immediately one thinks of his father, who was ill with Alzheimer’s in old age.
It is already certain that Trump endangers world peace. He has since revoked two nuclear contracts, one with Iran, agreed upon by the entire UN Security Council, and the 1988 INF Treaty on Nuclear Medium-Range Systems with Russia. His absurdly incompetent diplomacy with North Korea is a shambles, and Kim Jong-un threatens a new round of nuclear testing.
Under Trump, the US, the only one of the United Nations’ 193 member states, is opposed to global efforts to combat climate change. The Americans have no rational leadership, while the climate crises increase in intensity. Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria, which claimed more than 3,000 lives in Puerto Rico, was a contempt and neglect of the victims. He also trivialized the huge fires that hit California last year, which claimed dozens of lives, and the floods of historic proportions that have caused catastrophic losses throughout the Midwestern United States.
Extremists around the world are shaped by Trump’s worldview
Trump’s worldview is picked up by white extremists around the world. Data show an increase in hate crimes in the US since the day of his election, including doubling the number of murders by white racists. In addition, bullying spread to schoolyards abruptly, and the number of massacres and murders of firearms increased significantly. The killer of El Paso and the one in the synagogue of Pittsburgh, the “Pipe Bomber” who wanted to assassinate a prominent Democrat, and the shooter in the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand – all of them are examples of the influence of Trump’s echo chamber of violence. During his election campaign, he boasted that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters.” Since then, he has repeatedly endorsed violent behavior by mockery, sedition and, lately, a warning that his armed followers could act at his command.
This type of sadistic leader-follower relationship has cost millions of lives in the past and plunged countries into war and ruin. But this has never before happened in a country with thousands of nuclear weapons. Even now, many hold the appeal of violence on Trump, mistakenly for political tactics and not for the product of a disturbed psyche.
Donald Trump was not welcome in either Dayton or here in El Paso after over 30 were shot dead in both cities. He came anyway and again revealed his utter inability to show compassion.
Since the inauguration of his government, Trump has pursued an authoritarian style of leadership and tries to rule by decree. So he frivolously declared a National Emergency to divert funds from other budgets for building the wall on the border with Mexico. He must be stopped before he starts a war, perhaps with Venezuela or Iran, or before his armed supporters resort to violence against his political opponents. The 2020 election could easily turn into street violence at the behest of Trump. This assessment – and Trump’s own behavior – implies five actions that should be taken immediately:
First, the House of Representatives should initiate an impeachment trial and begin appropriate hearings. Trump is responsible for the same electoral campaign illegality that is sending his former lawyer Michael Cohen to jail. He has repeatedly and carelessly broken financial and tax laws by money laundering, wrong valuation of fixed assets and tax evasion.
Congress must protect the country from dangers – and therefore from Trump
Second, Congress should urgently reclaim the clear and unequivocal constitutional right to declare war. Unfortunately, Congress has long since ceded this power to the executive. But the power to declare war, especially in the case of a nuclear-armed force, can never be delegated to one person. That should also apply if the US had a mentally sound president.
Third, mental health professionals must live up to their responsibility to protect the health and safety of society by publicly declaring, if appropriate, that Trump is not just a malicious politician, but a mentally unstable person capable of causing great damage. It is both their right and their professional duty to provide crucial information that enables legislators to protect the country.
Fourth, the media must report on his mental instability beyond Trump’s daytime mood. The real story is that Trump represents a danger to others and not only that he is incessantly lying or cruel and bigoted.
Fifth, Americans must organize themselves politically to prevent another debacle in the 2020 elections. Perhaps Trump will try to whip up the mood by accusing his opponent of electoral fraud and urge his followers to violate the rules of democracy. If Trump is not charged with offenses, everything must be done to preserve democracy and protect society from his destructive rage.