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The new algebra

A month into the new year, and on the heels of the formerly esteemed body known as the Senate, under the power-mongering leadership of Mitch McConnell, acquitting as “not bad enough” the reprehensible, unprecedented and un-presidential behavior of one Donald J. Trump, I hereby resolve nevermore to mention his name, and henceforth shall refer to him by an acronym of my own invention, namely, pefp (looks like “perp,” short for perpetrator, but actually taken from “poor excuse for president.”)

Pefp succeeds by a wide range of lying, cheating, and otherwise offensive conduct, in my opinion. Some of his supporters see his behavior as part of his claimed-but-not-actually-demonstrated business acumen, self-celebrated in his ghost-written book, “The Art of the Deal.” I haven’t read it, and have no plan to, but based on the all too public face of pefp, I suspect it glorifies not so much the art of negotiation, but, rather, the art of the “con,” in which the “winner” puts one over on the other party to the transaction. In terms of values, pefp talks the talk, but never walks the walk (I hear he suffers from bone spurs.) The highest value he consistently displays has little to do with patriotism or the common good, but mostly to do with that which enriches him and his family financially, and which satisfies his greed, not only for wealth, but for power.

He is constantly on the attack, spewing lies that muddle the facts and ultimately wind up making it easier for him to accomplish his personal, not public ends. Perhaps the base likes him because he appears to be fearless in viciously denigrating those with whom he disagrees, despite his obvious lack of decency, wisdom and education.

Yes, pefp performs more like a mafia don than any predecessor, and keeps order by belittling the press and with threats, some announced and some not, against those who would dare criticize him or act counter to his personal interest. Given how little he appears to love anything but himself and those smitten by his image, it isn’t really hard to imagine that deep down, like his perceived adversaries, he secretly despises those who revere him. At some time, not soon enough for me, he will be caught disrespecting some of his base of true-believers. Even when he does, though, the consequence is uncertain, as religious zeal is not always hip to betrayal.

In the meantime, we witness abatement of civil political discourse, unchecked executive power, decimation of the environment, and policies aimed at short-term profit (we’ve heard the term, “take the money and run”) at the expense of long-term sustainability.

I have no illusions that politics remain a messy business, and that it is part of human nature to make providing for oneself a priority. What I find so overwhelmingly discouraging is that pefp has made selfishness at the expense of everyone else the mode du jour, with no corrective end in sight. We can only hope against hope for better.

JOSEPH R. DeCRISTOPHER

Lewisburg

Submitted via email

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