From now until at least the midterm elections in November, we’ll be featuring essays from powerful cultural voices alongside one simple thing, chosen by the author, that you can do to take action against the paralyzing apoplexy of the daily news. Maybe it’ll be an organization that deserves your donation; maybe it’ll be an issue that deserves greater awareness. Whatever it is, our aim is to remind you, and ourselves, of the big and small things we can do to work toward justice and change.
More Bad than Good
by Scott Turow
To be precise about why Donald Trump is unfit to occupy the White House, I need to resort to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard classifications used by mental health practitioners. Mr. Trump, in professional parlance, is “a complete asshole.” He is a dangerous, unstable man who brings the world to the brink of catastrophe every day he remains in the Oval Office, and who, even making allowances for the sinner in each of us, is a person far more bad than good.
1. He is an unrelenting liar who could not make it through even his first day in office without sending out his press spokesman to tell the ridiculous whopper that the Trump inauguration was the best attended in history. For Mr. Trump the truth is simply what he wants it to be.
2. Because he is an unrelenting liar, he indulges himself with invented realities, which shift from moment to moment without even a pretense of consistency. Although the evidence mounts of the involvements with the Russian government of Mr. Trump’s campaign staff and family, he recently claimed to believe Vladimir Putin’s denials that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.
3. His preference for invented realities causes Mr. Trump to remain vitally ignorant. When was the last time anyone heard him discuss a book (other than his own, which he didn’t write)? Imagine spending sixteen months as a candidate and three as president only to discover that health care—an issue that affects every single American—is “complicated.” He manifests no understanding of institutional roles in our democracy, including the importance of an independent judiciary, the deliberative process in Congress, or the decorum his predecessors in office have exhibited. In words that shock on the page, he makes Richard Nixon look good by comparison.
4. He is a demonstrated racist.
5. He treats people badly and enjoys it. He has bragged about grabbing women’s pussies and being able to get away with it. Those who deal with him regularly, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and General John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s Chief of Staff, have reportedly withstood barrages of insults unequaled in their adult lives.
6. Because he is ignorant and dishonest, and willfully cruel, Mr. Trump has coarsened our public discourse, perhaps permanently, by lashing out and demeaning his political opponents rather than debating their policies or criticisms. “Little Marco.” “Lyin Ted.” “Crooked Hillary.” “Liddle Bob Corker.”
7. His life has been an ongoing fraud. He hoodwinked the people to whom he owed money by filing for bankruptcy six times, while establishing the living lie that was Trump University. He admitted to violating the law by using Trump Foundation funds—which for the most part represented other people’s money—to settle his business’s obligations. Most gallingly, he ignores the long-established practice of his predecessors by continuing to profit from his worldwide businesses while he sits in the Oval Office, even though he refuses to disclose his tax returns, which would provide the clearest evidence of his actual economic interests.
Take action today:
Make your voice heard. Post a yard sign. Join an organization whose political goals match yours. Canvass. Speak. Vote. No matter how despairing, you must not choose silence.
Scott Turow is an attorney and author of eleven bestselling books including Presumed Innocent. His most recent book is Testimony.