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Donald Trump, Quintessential American

David Berger


I'm not joking. It's true. The New York Times article revealing Fred Trump's serial tax fraud and other frauds including his children proves it. Just look at our national history. Bear with me while I try to figure out how we got here. My apologies to my readers who only want me to write about music, but I need to say all this before I can get my mind back on that subject.

We (the United States) stole our country from the Native Americans by pushing them farther west, promising them that we would allow them to live on that land, and then reneging on those agreements. Since the Native Americans refused to be our slaves, we imported slaves from Africa to do the labor to build the country. 

When slavery became too repugnant to some Americans living in the North, we fought a Civil War to end slavery. Former slaves were then forced to work for near-slave wages, but with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, we needed many millions more slaves.

At this point, many poor people in Europe saw hope in immigrating to our shores. Little did they know that the vast majority of them would spend the rest of their lives working for near-slave wages in mines and factories under the harshest of conditions until they rose up and demanded more. They ultimately formed unions, which management and government did their best to curtail through legislation and brute force. But it was inevitable; unions took hold and a vital middle class was built. 

When tariffs and Wall Street abuses destroyed the world economy, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave our country the courage to survive the Great Depression and then to win World War II, but not without manipulation and fear mongering. He ignored our race problem and let our descendants of slaves remain third class citizens (immigrants and poor whites were second class, but Negros were always beneath them socially and economically) while refusing to bomb the Nazi concentration camps and the railroad lines leading to them. Adding insult to injury, he cut off immigration of Jewish refugees into our country in some cases turning the ships around and sending them back to German death camps. 

For all of his courage, FDR stoked fear in American hearts and imprisoned our citizens of Japanese descent for the duration of the war. Some say that this was racially motivated. Possibly, but rounding up all the German and Italian/Americans would be impossible. That would be about half the population of the US. Even if we could lock them up, who would be left to fight the war? The Japanese-American population was small enough to stoke fear and resentment of “the other.”

My father was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked on December 7, 1941, "a day that shall live in infamy." Fortunately, he died before it was exposed decades later that FDR knew the Japanese were about to attack but didn't warn our troops. He rightly reasoned that the devastating attack would mobilize the American public to fight the Japanese with all our might. Hitler cooperated and declared war on us four days later. 

Now, don't get me wrong. With all these negative issues, I still consider Roosevelt to be one of our greatest presidents. Life is complicated. When he died just prior to the end of the war, Americans went into mourning. Instead of fearing how we could go on without our fearless leader, we dropped two atom bombs on Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and quickly ended the war. 

What followed was 40 years of unparalleled American prosperity creating the largest middle class the world has ever known. The safety net that Franklin Roosevelt created was expanded, and protections of Earth and its animals that his cousin Theodore started continued to gain traction under both Democratic and Republican administrations until the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies were designed to undo all these protections in the name of returning America to its frontier spirit.


When I was growing up in the 1950s, Republicans and Democrats were both centrist. Congressmen and Senators could cross the aisle and pass bills that benefitted all Americans. This all changed after Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills through Congress. He was wrong when he predicted that the Democratic Party would lose the South for a generation. So far it’s two generations, and the former Confederacy and their offspring (who never wanted democracy—after all they believe that white men are superior to all other human beings) have found their champion in Donald Trump, a New York Richie Rich landlord who could care less about them. What they have in common is fear of “the other.” Trump is an out-and-racist and misogynist, but his motivation is self-enrichment and acquisition of power.


Trump’s mentor was Roy Cohn, the self-hating New York Jewish homosexual lawyer behind Nixon and Joe McCarthy and the Blacklist of the 1950s. Cohn studied Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and taught Hitler’s techniques to the young Trump: the big lie (the bigger the better, and keep repeating it), never admit mistakes or apologize, scapegoat a segment of the population that can’t defend itself and use them to stir up fear in the rest of the population, and develop a cult of personality (only he can save us).


It amazes me that my father and his generation laid their lives on the line to defeat Hitler and Fascism, and now 25% of our citizens (supported by big business) are welcoming an American Hitler. My whole life I’ve heard people say that it can’t happen here; we have too many checks and balances in our government. My parents taught me that if we are not always vigilant, it can and will happen here. Well, my friends, it is happening here. One by one, Trump is eliminating our checks and balances. He’s gutted the State Department, the EPA, Department of Education, estranged us from our allies and aligned our country with rogue nations that are run by criminals. Worst of all he bullies the Justice Department. Our new Supreme Court Justice was chosen because he said he would vote to make the President above the law.


Once that decision comes down, nothing will stop Trump from shutting down the Mueller investigation into his collusion with the Russians and money laundering crimes. The next step is for Trump to declare himself Emperor, and who will be able to stop him? He’s above the law.


A couple of years ago, Trump told us that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose even one vote. He wasn’t kidding. Now he won’t be prosecuted. Hitler told the world what he intended to do in Mein Kampf in 1925, and no one paid attention until it was too late.


Time is running out for us. We must do everything we can to win both houses of Congress next month. If we don’t, I’m afraid it will require the army taking over the government and restoring Democratic rule. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave the future of our democracy to the army. Historically, armies almost always support dictators.


I know this all sounds dark, and some people think that I’m going overboard. I hope that those people will be proven correct, but all my fears and predictions about Trump have come true, so far. That scares me.




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  • Jim Miller on

    So well-thought…again I appreciate your insightful writing (even when it’s not about music). Thanks.

  • Brian Priestley on

    Thank you for this, David. I know that Americans of an artistic sensitivity have their political hearts in the right place, but it’s good to have it so eloquently expressed. I can’t vote in November but I (and the whole world) need all of you to vote on our behalf. Unfortunately it’s not sufficient for the UN Assembly to laugh in his face – he needs to be slapped down and quick – before he fuels more climate change than any single individual has ever done, and before he starts a real live war on China.

  • River Bergstrom on

    Once again, you are so right on, David! There aren’t many people that I would say I agree with 100%, but you are one of them. All this scares the Hell out of me! I’ve always been in the lower class…tried so hard to dig myself out of it, but here I am…65 years old…and never made it happen.

  • Frits Schjøtt on

    Well – you saved us in the forties. Maybe it is Europe’s turn now…
    Frits from Denmark

  • Steven Ross on

    A powerful and clarifying summary Dave – thank you.

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