(This was written two weeks ago, it was somehow lost and been rewritten from memory)
As Trump was taking office, I laid out the crucial things to keep an eye on. There are so many bad things, you need to step back and get a fuller perspective.
(I use Trump and the GOP interchangeably, since many of these trends predate Trump and the GOP has not pushed back on Trump in any meaningful way.)
Existential Threat to Human Existence: Nuclear Annihilation: Grade of C.
Trump has continually escalated the stakes. He’s given North Korea and other countries incentives to continue developing nuclear weapons. He’s undermined NATO. He has destroyed the State Department and dismisses any diplomatic means to achieve ends.
However, the rhetoric is worse than the reality. Particularly on North Korea, outside of the crazy tweets he has been pretty reasonable and continued the same policies of that last several presidents.
Existential Threat to Human Existence: Global Warming: Grade of F.
“On all of Earth, there is only major political party that denies the existence of global warming and the role of humans in it. That is the Republican party of The United States of America.” Nothing has changed in the last year. Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement as expected. He has fully denied the science. Where once he seemed fuzzy on his beliefs, he has hardened into a complete denier.
Trump and the GOP get a F, but America as a whole is doing much better that that. Many states, municipalities, companies and citizen groups have accelerated efforts, essentially ignoring The White House. Many of the trends that were reinforced under Obama continue (for instance the price of solar energy continues to decrease).
All told, the threats to human existence are real, and Trump and the GOP have worsened the odds of our continued existence as a species, but all told, it could be much worse. Yay?
Threats to American Democracy
America under control by a foreign power: D
Despite the overwhelming evidence and common sense, Trump refuses to believe that Russia meddled in the election. His circle is apparently afraid to even raise the topic. You don’t have to believe that Trump is personally allied with the Russians to see the real threat. They tampered in the 2016 election, and Trump would likely not be president without their interference. Their clear goal is to undermine American democracy. They are continuing to tamper, will interfere with the 2018 elections, and there is no real push back of any kind. It is staggering that this treason is allowed, but that’s the GOP at work. They are only saved from flunking because Sessions recused himself and the investigations are continuing.
Corruption of the presidency: F
Trump, his “foundation”, and his family continue to profit personally from the Presidency. Two years ago, the behaviors would have been unspeakable, now it just seems like normal background noise. Here is a fairly random summary of just the last couple weeks.
Interestingly, Trump has consistently said that if Mueller investigates his personal finances (as he of course will), he will fully retaliate. This is consistent with his otherwise bewildering refusal to release his tax information. The only question is whether he resists because he is actually poor or actually a crook.
Partisanship above country: F
Trump himself doesn’t seem to accept that he is the President of all Americans. He is there to serve his base and has no interests in bettering the world for others. In rhetoric and policy he continually goes after anyone not ‘on his team’. Out of many example, nothing stands out as much as the President essentially refusing to help American citizens in Puerto Rico because… because… you fill in the end of that sentence.
The behavior of the Republican Congress and media have been much worse. The framers saw the three branches of government and the press battling against each other in checks and balances. That is no longer how it works. The Republican party is a united front across all branches. A GOP congress supports the GOP President and vice versa. They cheat to get GOP justices (How’s Merrick Garland doing?). They have their own propaganda media operation devoted to their party. The only Republicans speaking out against Trump are the ones who are retiring. Everything bad in this summary is a reflection of a political party that has no morals, has no red line, has no “at long last have you no shame” moment.
Degradation of facts and free-speech: F
Trump is a liar. He is a liar of historic proportions. He has not suffered consequences, he will continue to lie. He will continue to blur the idea of truth as an objective reality apart from partisan interests.
I almost hope Trump does somehow manage to loosen the libel laws, and the next day is sued into poverty.
Overall Grade: D.
One year ago most of the world held it’s breath. A year later, the best you can say is that humanity will probably get through this.