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PERRY SCOPE: Quo vadis, Donald J. Trump?

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By Perry Diaz

For four years, we saw the meteoric rise of Donald J. Trump from a reality show producer to the President of the United States. That’s a quantum leap from an obscure position in the TV industry to the highest political position in the world – the leader of the Free World!

How did he manage to achieve that? By sheer will power and riding the crest of the Obama economic recovery? Yet, it would take lots of luck to achieve all that. But one needs to remember that the U.S. during that time was relatively at peace with the rest of the world. Russia and China gave Trump a pass. Even Iran stayed out of any geopolitical conflict with the U.S. And North Korea? Well, that’s another story. But overall, the world was at peace and Trump stayed out of trouble.

During that time, Trump embarked on massive defense spending. He added $600 billion to the defense budget while cutting back on troop deployment. Which makes one wonder: Was he preparing to go to war? With whom?

Evidently, Trump was empire-building. He wanted to rule the world. But he did it all wrong. He antagonized America’s traditional allies like the 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) while he befriended the autocratic dictators of Russia, China, and North Korea.

Trump reminds me of Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus. He was popularly known by his moniker Caligula. In my column, “Caligula Trumpus Americanus” (February 2, 2018), I wrote, “If there is one Roman emperor that that makes me laugh, it was Caligula. He succeeded Tiberius in AD 37. He ruled for only four years. He was assassinated in AD 41 at the young age of 28.

“He got his moniker ‘Caligula’ (meaning ‘little soldier’s boot,’ the diminutive form of ‘caliga’), which he hated, from the Roman soldiers who served under his father Germanicus, a popular general and Tiberius’ nephew and adoptive son. His mother was Agrippina the Elder, granddaughter of Tiberius.

“Upon the death of Germanicus, Agrippina returned to Rome with her six children where she became entangled in a bitter feud with Tiberius. It resulted in the destruction of her family. Caligula was the sole male survivor. Tiberius adopted him. Following the death of Tiberius, Caligula succeeded him in AD 37.

“Caligula enjoyed a brief period of popularity and admiration. He was described as a noble and moderate emperor during the first six months of his rule. [Trump was also popular during the first six months of his presidency]. But it didn’t take too long before Caligula earned the wrath of the people. For the brief time that he ruled Rome, Caligula exhibited cruelty, lunacy, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion. Many believed he was crazy.

“Among those that Caligula was known to have insanely done were: He terrorized Rome with his unbridled madness; talked to the moon; ordered arbitrary executions; and planned to make his horse Incitatus a consul. For one thing, his fellow lawmakers would likely have whisked him out of power for such conduct. But assuming the much-maligned emperor was the loon his chroniclers describe, some scholars have suggested that an illness made him come unhinged—possibly temporal lobe epilepsy, hyperthyroidism or Wilson’s disease, an inherited disorder that can cause mental instability.


Trump and Caligula

“Two millennia later, history seems to have repeated itself – in America. The 2016 presidential election in the United States has brought to fore an eerie similarity between the presidential winner, Donald J. Trump, and Caligula. For his first year in office, President Trump demonstrated a character and idiosyncrasy that mimics Caligula. Does one wonder if Trump has some form of mental disorder?

“In an opinion piece in May 2017 in The Washington Post titled, ‘Trump has a dangerous disability,’ George F. Will wrote: ‘It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence.’

“He has instructed us that Andrew Jackson was angry about the Civil War that began 16 years after Jackson’s death. Having, let us fancifully imagine, considered and found unconvincing William Seward’s 1858 judgment that the approaching Civil War was ‘an irrepressible conflict,’ Trump says: ‘People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?’

“It’s obvious that Trump has a cockeyed view of American history. Or worse, could it be that he’s insane?

Rulers by accident

“Caligula and Trump were born a world apart: different cultures, different upbringings, and different eras. But in so many ways, their minds worked alike. They both became rulers by accident, not by pedigree or design.

|“In a new book Quid Pro Quo, author Valerie Block says of Caligula: ‘An arrogant, narcissistic, blond serial rapist attains the highest office in the land, abuses his power, and offends everyone personally: this is the subject of my newest novel, Quid Pro Quo, a behind-the-scenes look at the assassination of Caligula, the third Emperor of ancient Rome. It is impossible to ignore the many echoes of Caligula’s story that played out in the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump, a man whom the 2nd-century historian Suetonius might have been describing when he wrote of Caligula, ‘there was nothing in his own character which he admired and approved more highly than…his shameless impudence.’

“Block also said that Caligula and Trump share a lot of characteristics, to wit: (1) Narcissism [‘All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected,’ he boasted]; (2) Grandiosity [‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.’]; (3) Cruelty [Trump once said, ‘I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.’]; (4) Comfort with negative attention [‘Bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.’]; (5) Sexual misconduct, promiscuity, and violence [‘You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women, I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. You know when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.’ — Trump talking to the host of Access Hollywood in 2005.]; (6) Motivated by revenge [‘My motto is: Always get even. When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.’]; and (7) Delusion [‘I alone can fix it.’].

With all these similarities, Trump might as well be called Caligula Trumpus Americanus. Could it be that Trump is Caligula reincarnated?”

Aftermath of the election

On November 3, 2020, Trump lost in his re-election campaign. With his loss, the Trump Empire falls like a field of mushrooms, which never gained any foothold during the four years he was in power. Unlike Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong-un, who build their empires on solid ground with the backing of a strong military, Trump never gained the loyalty of the U.S. military. It was meant to be for the U. S. military was never designed to be loyal to one person. It was designed to serve the American people and the democratic institution the country was built upon.

Trump never learned that the military was not built to uphold the dictatorial inclination of one person. It was never intended to serve at the whim of one person let alone someone who uses the office of the presidency for his personal aggrandizement and financial benefits.

From the get-go, it was obvious that Trump’s administration was intertwined with his personal financial business. He surrounded himself with family members whom he appointed to key positions in hiss administration. He ran the office of the presidency like a Mafia crime family with his son-in-law as his consigliere who served him unabashedly and who ran their office as an extension of Trump’s personal financial business.

In the end, everything that Trump built in the four years he was in office, crumbled like a house built on matchsticks. He didn’t realize that the silent majority that he claimed to be his stronghold, turned out to be the silent majority that catapulted his opponent Joe Biden to the top on Election Day. When Biden garnered 273 on November 6, the spontaneous and jubilant reaction from the people was unlike the mute reception he got from a handful of supporters who braved to show up in his rallies. By comparison, Trump’s supporters number more than 30,000 at his rallies. Ebullient at the raucous adulation of his supporters, Trump even declared that he’d be running for a third term in 2024. Yes, he planned to be in office for 12 years, four more than the statutory eight years maximum allowed by the Constitution. He’ll just have to submit a constitutional amendment to extend his stay in office. And after that, his heirs –- Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner — would take over the Trump dynasty and stay in power for decades to come. It would usher in the Age of Trump in American history. It would be a dream come true.

But politics is not what it seems to be. Things change at the drop of a pin. And when it happens, it’s irreversible. The downward trajectory would be unstoppable. And from the rubbles of the Trump Empire would emerge the American promise of peace and prosperity. Biden declared during his acceptance speech that he will not be the president of Blue or Red States of America; he will be the president of the United States of America. Indeed, it’s a promise meant to be taken seriously. And if Biden accomplishes that, he’d bring together the people of a united country bound by a common desire to help one another in harmony. The sad denouncement of the Trump president serves as a lesson in politics — never underestimate the power of the silent majority.

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