If you have followed the news since the election of the Trump administration, you will likely not find anything new in this book. While that might be disappointing, I found that the concentrated report of all the unethical behaviour left me despondent. The call to action is directed towards Republicans and more broadly, the American voter. For Republicans, it is to save their party, which in the author’s opinion has been perverted. For the American voter, it is to vote this man out of office. For those of us in the rest of the world, there is only hope.
The author answers three questions: why anonymous? Why do they still work at the White House? And finally, why write this book? For the first, the author relates this work to the Federalists’ Papers, which were published anonymously in an effort to direct attention towards the content, rather than the authors. For the second, the answer is to avoid a complete collapse of the administration. As Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson put it, “If you are a national security official working for a malignant, infantile, impulsive, authoritarian wannabe, you need to stay in your job as long as you can to mitigate whatever damage you can — before the mad king tires of your sanity and fires you.” The answer to the final question is that all those representing the “stable state” have been fired or quit and thus there remains insufficient force to keep the president on track and therefore it now comes down to one of the remedial solutions (.e.g, impeachment) or the electorate.
Reflecting on the modus operandi of the administration, the author asks “is this who we [Americans] are?” Like so many others, the answer given is in the negative, submitting that we [Americans] are better than this. Yet, the author seems to contradict this assertion by suggesting Trump is a reflection of the nation, of its people. This latter point seems more congruent with the polling that, at 40+% support of all Americans, and over 90% for those who identify with the Republican Party, appears to suggest that the actions by the Administration are seen as at least acceptable by a large number of people. Furthermore, by injecting a discussion on the herd-effect of the “crowd mentality” engendered by Trump, the author puts in question whether the 2020 election might lead to the outcome he or she is promoting (voting him out).
The author states clearly that Trump is deranged, yet in submitting alternative courses of action, impeachment is dismissed. While there may be practical challenges with that approach, in my view it is important that congress take a stand to assure the rest of the world that the course taken by this administration is not in keeping with the American Way. Impeachment would be the first step in revamping America’s now tattered reputation. While it will take years, and possibly decades to recover it, this step will allow diplomates and others to say “Yes he was bad, but we took the steps that our democracy enables to resolve the problem.”
The author closes the book asking the question what would have been the American response to the 9/11 attack had Trump been president at the time? This had me reflect on other historical events where the American response charted a new course that had world-wide impact. Given his propensity to privilege despots and dictators over allies, I can only conclude that If Trump had been president in 1942, we’d all speak German.