When we first met in 2014, I was a year into research for the biography I was writing about you. I knew about your stern father, your exile to military school at a tender age and your tendency to spin dramatic fantasies. I knew that you considered life a battle for survival and humans to be “vicious” by nature.
The making of an anti-President
The title of my book, “Never Enough,” pointed to your endless drive to prove your superiority, which, ironically, led to bankruptcies, divorces and legal defeats. It’s likely these failures provoked the same sense of shame and humiliation that you must have felt as a rejected child. You once told me you hated to reflect on the past, but in refusing to do this, you were bound to repeat your mistakes. No matter how much you achieved, it was never enough. And so, you went too far. (For more on this see what your psychologist niece, Mary Trump, wrote in her 2020 book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.”)
Having seen your inability to recognize others as human beings, I have not been shocked by your indifference to the deaths of your fellow citizens. Nor have I been surprised by your encouragement of violence. Violence was what I always expected from your presidency. I just didn’t know what form it would take.
Itching for a fight
The border wall
You got away with cruelty in part because you conditioned many Americans to believe that brown-skinned, undocumented immigrants constituted a criminal horde that required a draconian response.
Legacy of lies
The easy way out for someone mired in disinformation is to pick a person to believe and go all in. Many of those who doubled down on their support for you found a sense of belonging amid the slogans, regalia and fervent rallies. They felt they were right. Those who disagreed were not fellow citizens but enemies who, some concluded, should be defeated by violent means.
When I consider the hungry, the infected, the traumatized and the deceased and hold in my mind the images of the deadly mob at the Capitol, I hear your voice summoning the worst in my fellow citizens. With those words you truly established yourself as the anti-President, a distinction that cancels any claim you might make to the respect normally accorded the office.
When we met you told me to call you “Don,” as if we were friends. You also invited me to examine your hair. I didn’t do either because I sensed that you wanted to establish a bond that you would eventually try to corrupt. This was confirmed when you hinted that my book could make me rich if I abandoned my professional duty and wrote it to your liking.
Thankfully, enough Americans recognized your immorality and incompetence and lack of human feeling so profound that the suffering and death so much a part of your presidency didn’t appear to affect you at all. They chose Joe Biden in November, making you truly accountable for perhaps the first time in your life.
After four years of your chaos, what’s left is a wounded country grieving for its dead and for its innocence. But we will recover, and you now face criminal and legal threats in state courts, along with the harsh judgment of history.
As you desperately summon the remains of your following for comfort and fundraising, your disgrace is growing with the mounting evidence that your words motivated the mob that attacked the United States Capitol. This incitement may be the single worst thing a president has ever done, and it will define you for centuries to come.