No image better portrays the Trump presidency than that of national parks trashed and vandalized in the wake of an unnecessary government shutdown.  Is not this president’s primary accomplishment to defile what most Americans hold sacred?

The Constitution is sacred. Rather than loyalty to its abiding principles, Trump demands personal fealty of appointees. He admires autocrats and tyrants—the Philippines’ Duerte, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and Russia’s Putin—for their “strong” (i.e., ruthless) leadership, including silencing opponents through assassination.

Truth too is sacred, and another casualty of the Trump era.  Mr. Trump denigrates journalists and castigates the fourth estate as “enemies of the people.”  He rails that respected news outlets issue “fake news,” while reveling in the fakest “news” of all: FOX. The daily deluge of falsehoods from the White House has kept an army of fact checkers on overtime. Since inauguration day, those lies number more than 7000, ten per day, beginning with “alternative facts” about attendance at the inauguration itself.

The health of the planet is sacred, as are the purity of our air and water. Yet Trump has withdrawn America from the Paris Climate Accord and staffed the EPA and the Department of the Interior with sycophants whose goals are to pervert the very agencies in their charge and to undermine previous bipartisan commitments to wilderness, clean air, pristine water, and a livable planet.

As a national symbol, the Statue of Liberty is sacred. Since gifted to us in 1875 by the French, Lady Liberty has beckoned humanity’s “huddled masses yearning to be free.” But Trump has tarred immigrants and asylum seekers as “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists” and would have Liberty’s shining beacon extinguished in favor of a new symbol: The Wall.

E pluribus unum, our sacred motto, signifies strength in diversity.  Yet Trump cultivates division. He emboldens white supremacists, incites violence, categorizes opponents as “mobs,” and fosters tribalism in an attempt to divide and conquer the American people

Our electoral processes are sacred. Or they were, until successfully hacked in 2016 by Russian-sourced conspiracy theories that maligned Hillary Clinton and swung the election to Donald Trump. Despite a national-intelligence consensus that Russian malfeasance was behind the disinformation, Trump publicly upholds Putin’s denials while savaging our intelligence agencies and attempting to discredit the Mueller investigation into Russian interference.

Our national parks and monuments are the envy of the world, sacred natural treasures deserving protection. Trump’s man to head the Interior Department? Ryan Zinke. Like former EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, Zinke recently resigned amid scandal. In his tenure at Interior, he presided over the dumbing down of science, forced the removal “climate change” from official reports, and relaxed environmental standards to encourage fossil-fuel extraction on public lands.

Beware the “leader” for whom nothing is sacred but ego, money, and power.

That the Republic has weathered many storms in its history is no proof that it will weather all.  Donald Trump is the greatest existential threat to American democracy that I have witnessed in my 70-year lifetime.

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Image credit: Composite image of Donald Trump in front of national park trash is a composite image created by LikeTheDew.com from a caricature by DonkeyHotey (cc/flickr) and the background image taken for the SF Public Works (fair use).

Dave Pruett

Dave Pruett

Dave Pruett, a former NASA researcher, is an award-winning computational scientist and emeritus professor of mathematics at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, VA. His alter ego, however, now out of the closet, is a writer. His first book, Reason and Wonder (Praeger, 2012), a "love letter to the cosmos," grew out of an acclaimed honors course at JMU that opens up "a vast world of mystery and discovery," to quote one enthralled student. For more information, visit reasonandwonder.org