Trump in 2016: Us Against Them. Trump in 2020: Us Against Us.

Thanks to Janine Robinson for sharing their work on Unsplash.

It took almost four years but here we are.

Trump used to rally his base with innuendo about shadowy others who threatened America: Mexicans are rapists and members of obscure, violent gangs. A Muslim travel ban would keep out terrorists. Orphaning the children of parents fleeing Central America by locking them away and concealing them from their families would ensure that only Americans would receive benefits from paying taxes.

Where we are now was a gradual and incremental shift but it’s easy enough to look back and see it coming. After all, Trump made his mark on the political scene by questioning Pres. Obama’s legitimacy and refusing to acknowledge that Obama was born in Hawaii, not Kenya.

We know the cascading inflection points ever since. Good people on both sides. Pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio before he could be sentenced for what the U.S. Dept. of Justice called “sadistic punishments” of Latino inmates. Trying to shut down the NFL because Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in response to police killings of Black people. Calling Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas. Labeling a free press the enemy of the people. Saying the members of “The Squad,” four Democratic congresswomen, should go back to their countries although all but one were born in America. Calling Jews who vote for Democrats “disloyal.” Retweeting white supremacists. The list is endless and neither of us has that much time.

Now, as Poltico’s Michael Kruse, Renuka Rayasam, and Myah Ward note, Trump is no longer talking about us versus them. He’s ginning up the base by making it us against us. […]

White House Is Short-Staffed

80%

New York Times: “Some 80 percent of the senior positions in the White House below the cabinet level have turned over during President Trump’s administration, with about 500 people having departed since the inauguration. Mr. Trump is on his fourth chief of staff, his fourth national security adviser and his fifth secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. … Between Mr. Trump’s history of firing people and the choice by many career officials and political appointees to leave, he now finds himself with a government riddled with vacancies, acting department chiefs and, in some cases, leaders whose professional backgrounds do not easily match up to the task of managing a pandemic.”

Ex FEMA Official Arrested on Bribery Charges

$1.8 billion

“A former top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was arrested on Tuesday in a major federal corruption investigation that found that the official took bribes from the president of a company that secured $1.8 billion in federal contracts to repair Puerto Rico’s shredded electrical grid after Hurricane Maria,” the New York Times reports.

Only Six in Terrorism Database Stopped at Southern Border

6

U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data obtained by NBC News. The low number contradicts statements by Trump administration officials who said Friday that CBP stopped nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists from crossing the southern border in fiscal year 2018.

Five Questions to Ask When Someone Leaves the Trump Administration

FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article about the questions we should ask when a high-level individual departs the Trump administration — whether they jump or are pushed.

The authors looked at Human resources literature in both the public and private sectors and interviewed experts to identify the five questions:

    • How long was this person in the job?
      “Turnover is unavoidable within the federal bureaucracy, and that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, political scientists agree that some changes in leadership are necessary for a functioning democracy. Frequent turnover, though, can create a number of problems, which is why it’s important to take a look at how long a departing leader has been in his or her position.”

[…]

Trump’s Record-Setting Year — for Staff Turnovers

34%

NPR: “If President Trump’s first year in office seemed chaotic from a staffing perspective, there’s a reason. Turnover among top-level staff in the Trump White House was off the charts, according to a new Brookings Institution report. … Turnover in Trump’s first year was more than triple that in former President Barack Obama’s first year, and double the rate in President Ronald Reagan’s White House. A full 34 percent of high-level White House aides either resigned, were fired or moved into different positions in this first year of the Trump presidency.”

Trump Administration Has Highest Turnover in 40 Years

34%

Wall Street Journal: “According to Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has tracked White House turnover rates over three decades, the Trump administration’s 34% turnover rate—21 of the 61 senior officials she has tracked have resigned, been fired or reassigned—is much higher than that of any other administration in the last 40 years, which is as far back as Ms. Dunn-Tenpas’s analysis goes. The presidency with the next-highest first-year turnover rate was Ronald Reagan’s, with 17% of senior aides leaving the administration in 1981.”

Trump’s First Year Worse than We Anticipated

“Grit your teeth. Persevere. Just a few more days and this awful, rotten, no-good, ridiculous, rancorous, sordid, disgraceful year in the civic life of our nation will be over. Here’s hoping that we all — particularly special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — have a better 2018. … Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.”

Eugene Robinson