Michael D’Antonio is the author of the book “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success” and co-author, with Peter Eisner, of the upcoming book “High Crimes: The Corruption, Impunity, and Impeachment of Donald Trump.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)Donald Trump, who took office at a time of falling crime and rising prosperity, laid out a vision of “American carnage” in his twisted inaugural address. Four years later, under his watch, that carnage has come to pass. His federal officers have wielded weapons against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters. The President calls the protesters thugs, anarchists and terrorists.

One of his young followers (judging by social media accounts believed to belong to the young alleged shooter) was charged with killing two people and injuring a third at a demonstration against police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Though the governor and mayor have implored him to stay away, Trump is going to Kenosha Tuesday, to fan the flames some more. His plans call for meetings with law enforcement officers and a survey of damage done by some protesters. However he said Monday that he does not plan to meet with the family of the Black man whom an officer shot seven times in the back at point blank range. It is in particular this shooting of Jacob Blake, as his children looked on, that touched off the Kenosha protests in the first place. Read MoreTrump's depraved plan to try to win reelectionTrump's depraved plan to try to win reelectionTrump's depraved plan to try to win reelectionThe President is exploiting Kenosha to promote his ominous message from last week’s GOP convention: “This election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.” Though he offered no proof of such a “radical movement,” by repeating the words at every turn, Trump is working to make it seem both real and the most pressing problem of the day in the minds of his supporters. Trump’s dark re-election theme, which promotes fear and conflict, is a perfect representation of both his longstanding and deeply negative world view and his lifelong practice of refusing to accept responsibility for any problem. This is the man who said he has never asked God to forgive him for anything. Who said, “We don’t make mistakes.” And who declared, “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the federal government’s tragically bad response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed more than 183,000 lives. Trump’s shirking reflex suggests a man unfit for office. President Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here,” with him. He assumed responsibility, and did his job. In contrast, Trump is all about blaming others for whatever problems the country might face. It almost makes you think that deep down he knows he is incapable. When he calls others weak, it is as if he hopes that projecting his flaws on officials with less power and authority will deflect attention from his many failures. But worse than Trump’s refusal to accept responsibility is his insistence on making his darkly negative view of humanity — and of life itself — real for the rest of us. In 1982 Trump said: “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” Keep in mind, this profoundly pessimistic notion was expressed by someone who has always known wealth and privilege. When he said it, he was about to complete his signature Trump Tower skyscraper on Fifth Avenue. He was recently married and the father of two young children.Anyone who has read, or read of psychologist Mary Trump’s book about her uncle the President would know that, according to her, his nihilism arose out of the profound neglect he experienced as a little boy in Queens in a family where his often-ill mother was unavailable and his father demanded that even little boys “be tough at all costs.” How Jim Gaffigan's profanity-laced tirade could hurt TrumpHow Jim Gaffigan's profanity-laced tirade could hurt TrumpHow Jim Gaffigan's profanity-laced tirade could hurt TrumpIn this setting, wrote Mary Trump, “lying is okay, admitting you’re wrong or apologizing is weakness.” His task became to “convince other people he was better than he actually was.”A child required to be so tough and perfect, and who is also deprived of the steady support of comforting parents, would know that deep inside, he really wasn’t so tough. What child is? Instead, children in this position are more likely to become the kind of fearful people who build the kind of defenses exhibited by bullies and braggarts. Mary Trump addresses this point directly. She notes that “Donald and Robert (his brother) were likely even needier because they missed their mother and were actively distressed by her absence. … Donald suffered from deprivations that would scar him for life,” she writes. This produced “displays of narcissism, bullying and grandiosity,” a trajectory widely familiar to psychologists and other researchers. As adults some seek ever-greater positions of power to prove to themselves that they are every bit as strong as they were supposed to be. Such a person, given the resources of, say, an immensely wealthy family and a business in which he holds all the power, might create a world of his own where he is surrounded by people who praise and obey him (and certainly don’t question his dominance) and serve as his allies in his paranoid conflicts with others.Paranoia is a quality that Trump copped to long ago. “Be paranoid” was among his tips for success in his 1997 book called “Trump: The Art of the Comeback.” Given his penchant for seeing enemies and conspiracies everywhere — Deep State, Fake News, voter fraud — his fearfulness only seems to be getting worse. There is an idea expressed in the common wisdom that with age people don’t change, they just become more themselves. Donald Trump believes this and expressed it to me in 2014 when he said, “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same.” The problem for Americans is that the boy from Queens grew up to assume the power of the presidency. He gradually drove away all those who failed to support him and now, surrounded by enablers, he has the power to impose his dark vision upon us. Faced with the national protests that arose after the police killing of a Black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis, he seized upon sporadic — and limited — bouts of protests that sometimes included pockets of rioting and property destruction to declare the whole country as under threat. Get our free weekly newsletter

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He then abused his bully pulpit to foment anger and fear among his core supporters, who have begun to mount forceful shows of their own views. Thus we have a 17-year-old crossing state lines to allegedly shoot protesters in Kenosha and, a few days later, a miles-long parade of big pick-up trucks cruising into Portland where some people in the trucks fire paintballs at bystanders, some of whom threw projectiles back at them. This is the America of Trump’s twisted imagination. It is the America he seems determined to make all of us occupy. And it is the America for which he is ultimately, and unavoidably, responsible.

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/01/opinions/why-trump-is-really-going-to-kenosha-dantonio/index.html

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