Or… Trump the Mundane.

A deep-dive into the cobwebbed recesses of my pop culture recollection dug out this snippet from John Boorman’s magnificent 1981 film Excalibur, which quite succinctly encapsulates the Trumpian political landscape of today. I witness, daily, parallel universes of news, dialogues, screeds, and proclamations regarding the Untethered Orange Id (TM) and his various words, deeds, and policies. For those unwilling or unable to access the Youtube clip, it is a simple exchange between two knights, shortly after Arthur shocks the world by drawing Excalibur out of the stone in which his father sank it:

Uryens: “Are you with us, or against us?!?!”
Leondegrance: “Against you!!!!”

Uryens refused to acknowledge Arthur as the true king, because he was not of them (i.e. a “noble knight” who wouldn’t “swear faith to a squire”). Meanwhile Leondegrance “saw what [he] saw, the boy drew the sword. If a boy has been chosen, a boy will be king!” Knights being knights, there was combat, until Arthur demonstrated a wise respect for the institutions of chivalry and swayed the dissenters to his side.

One might easily be tempted to parallel the argument about Trump’s election and presidency with the Arthurian legend and its telling in Excalibur, but let’s not get carried away.

Trump is no Arthur.

And, despite what his extollers and his excoriators proclaim, he is neither the Second Coming nor the Antichrist. He is impolitic, he is blustery, he is “untethered,” and he is a perpetual troller in a job that should not involve trolling, but he is much more mundane than the hyperbolic degree of discourse he has elicited would suggest. Pretty much every significant policy and action we’ve witnessed to date has been pursued by previous Presidents. I don’t agree with many of them, and some are downright stupid, but I’m not shocked by them, and none of them are ‘transformational’ in nature or degree. Ditto for the behaviors being focused upon as reason for his removal from office, which, if true, are tawdry and “dirty politics” but don’t elevate, at least in my opinion, to a level of outrage sufficient to warrant de-Presidentation, especially by today’s standards.

In short, he’s a politician. He’s not Job, and he’s not Lucifer. He warrants neither universal loyalty nor universal loathing.

Yet, that’s exactly what millions of Americans demand.

I have friends and acquaintances – good, thoughtful, intelligent people – with whom I won’t talk Trump politics in any depth or seriousness, because they either cannot abide anything positive said about him or cannot abide anything negative said about him, at a visceral level. Point out one of his policies that aligns with a Trump hater’s own politics, and they’ll either give you a “But… TRUMP!!!” exclamation or dismiss the action as someone else’s idea. Point out one of his policies that runs against a Trumpist’s own politics, and they’ll fall back into a tribal “the other side is so bad we can’t give an inch.” If you love him and can’t abide a single criticism, no matter how valid, or if you hate him and can’t abide a single bit of praise, no matter how valid, I see no point in even trying to engage.

Does Trump warrant any of this?

Hardly. He’s not Arthur, he’s not Solomon, he’s not Reagan or Lincoln or FDR or Wilson or Washington. And, he’s not Hitler, he’s not Stalin, he’s not Pol Pot, he’s not Che or Mussolini or Genghis or even Buchanan. In a year or in 5 years, his Presidency will end (no, I don’t believe for a moment that the Senate will remove him if the House impeaches). His presidency will be known for its tempestuousness, but his political footprint will not be outlandish or outside-the-bounds of what we’ve seen from previous Presidents of a center-right inclination. Fact is, the lives of the vast majority of Americans won’t be profoundly impacted by Trump’s tenure.

So, if you can, take a breath, and turn the dial down from eleven. He’s simply not worth it.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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