Recently, I wrote that the impeachment of Donald Trump seemed to me a dangerous or perhaps counterproductive move that threatened to amplify the feeling among Trump voters that the “system” was rigged against them and their candidate. It would be better, I said, to let him discredit himself on his own, through incompetence and a long list of failed and broken promises. This reasoning, of course, did not exclude the possibility that new developments could arise – serious revelations of collusion with Putin’s Russia etc. – which would force the hand of Congress.
However, my reasoning did not include another unpredictable factor, the joker in the pack of cards – the possibility of Trump having such self-destructive tendencies that he could push the country toward making the final decision. The events in Charlottesville – and Trump’s various responses that seemed to defend the white supremacists and their actions, which resulted in a person’s death in Virginia – have raised a number of questions. Trump was given a rather easy choice: to condemn racism, neo-Nazism, and nostalgia for the old Confederacy and slavery once and for all, and uniting the entire country. So why did he choose to further divide the country, arguing that “there were very fine people” among the protesters on the extreme right, claiming that the other side was also to blame? There is a possible psychological explanation that Trump rebels instinctively whenever his advisers try to make him say the “right things.” There is also a political explanation that Trump won by appealing to the tribal instincts of the working class, and that in any moment of crisis he feels the need to return to the formula that, for him, has been successful – breaking conventional rules and talking straight from the gut.
But another possibility comes to mind: Does he want to end his time in office by creating one crisis after another until the Republican establishment, opportunistic and unscrupulous, will be practically forced to remove him for fear of becoming completely tarnished?
Undoubtedly, Trump feels the need to live in an atmosphere of continual crisis. A sense of crisis, though false and partially manipulated, helped elect him, but a crisis satisfies his ego, and keeps all attention trained on him. Yet this tendency to aim increasingly higher is creating crises that are ever more serious: a possible war with North Korea one day, in bed with neo-Nazis the next, the ousting of his chief of staff, then the clamorous exit of extreme right strategist Steve Bannon soon after. With every crisis, it is as if Trump becomes more radioactive. Leaders of big corporations – a potentially very useful group of allies – are abandoning him. Actors, singers and athletes refuse invitations to the White House.
In his role as president, Trump seems very unhappy. Paradoxically, his greatest triumph seems to have given him little pleasure. He seems swollen, more rabid and unbalanced. Leading the country is a daunting job that requires attention to detail, patience and a level of forethought light years away from the world of Trump Tower, where he can clap his hands and impose his will. Does he want to provoke a crisis that will relieve him of this unbearable load while at the same time satisfying his victim complex? I’m starting to wonder.