I woke up early this morning and in an unwise decision, checked my phone and saw a rather disturbing news article. Well, several, because according to my Facebook feed, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and fast.
But this one was the one that caught my attention at 4:00 AM this morning and I could not for the life of me, get back to sleep.
Some of you may already be familiar with the content of this article or of what is going on, so I’m going to be brief. Chuck Jones, the President of the United Steelworkers Union, called Trump out on some of the numbers he was touting that he had saved/created American jobs for Carrier which were bloated, exaggerated or just factually incorrect. While appreciative, Jones felt he needed to set the record straight on some promises that Trump had made which didn’t come to fruition and which now, Trump denied having made. (You can hear those statements in this video clip here).
It is unknown whether Trump’s next move was in retaliation, but it appears from all angles that it was. And this is what blows my mind and is cause for great concern for our democracy, because frankly, he seems to become emboldened more and more each day in his… inappropriateness. To put it mildly. What happened next was, as he likes to do when he is avoiding reading National Security briefs and you know, important shit, he took to Twitter. And he wrote THIS.
He took a personal attack out against a private citizen of this country. And what happened as a result for Chuck Jones, a hardworking man who is representing the rights and the working conditions of the Carrier employees, was that he started to receive threatening calls. His family started to receive threatening calls.
Basically, by tweeting what he did, Trump has put an informal “hit” out on Chuck Jones or at least put him in a very threatening situation. Trump’s lowest common denominator supporters are already out there, ready to do God knows what to Chuck Jones. And knowing Trump and the kind of generous guy he is, he’d probably also offer to pay the legal bills. (Yes, I’m thinking back to the rally where he encouraged the beating of the Black Lives Matters activist and then offered to pay the legal fees of the culprit on live television).
Chuck Jones represents the working class. He represents the America that Trump said he was out to protect and whose America he was going to make great again. I have to tell you that what he is doing is not making anything great. This is a continuation of his campaign platform of hate and demagoguery but it also alludes to something much more dangerous.
What the President-Elect has basically just done is announce to the world that he is beyond repudiation. We already saw him doing this and playing these games with the media, which is scary enough and yes, it harkens back to many of the manipulative plays that Hitler himself made when he came to power.
What is different this time- markedly so – is that he is now going after individual citizens. He is going deep into the pockets of middle America and pointing a finger and saying, “You. You crossed me. Know my wrath. In 140 characters or less,” before he starts typing away.
These kind of intimidation tactics have no place in a democracy. They are used by authoritarians to control the message around them. They are used in autocracies to stifle free press. They are used by dictators to suffocate the truth from society.
They are not the behavior of a President of the United States of America.
But here we are. And this is our President-Elect.
This is what I woke up to this morning.
I imagine there will be more mornings like this. I imagine right now, some people may find these tweets humorous or funny. But authoritarian and dictatorial figures have a funny way of turning their backs on those who might be friends today. They can be fickle like that. Because their biggest enemy isn’t a person, or really even a group of people.
No, you see? Their enemy is the truth.
And as long as there are people who have the backbone to defend the truth, they will be targets for this kind of intimidation and the hate that comes with it.
Signing off on my first post, but expecting to be writing much, much more in the days to come.