"America's Stupidest President"
"Is Trump Mentally Well Enough to Be President?"
"Our President Isn't Losing His Mind—He Never Had It To Start With"
If you haven't heard statements like that, I envy whatever rock you've found to shelter these hard years under.
I am no fan of Mr. Trump. His candidacy and subsequent presidency has been a surreal horror. We have already reached the point where comedians are sick of making Trump jokes: there is plenty of material to mine, but no one wants to hear the same joke every day for four years.
Yet, despite the fact that my feelings about Trump could easily be summarized as "loathing," statements like those above make my skin crawl.
People seem to think that because Trump is a public, powerful figure, nothing is out of bounds. And, to be fair, I've read those tweets. I've seen those interviews. I know where people are coming from. Especially with his check-up this last week and increasing talk of "senility" from various pundits, there even seems to be validity to this claim that he is perhaps too stupid, or too mentally ill, to be president.
It doesn't excuse it. Stupid-shaming and crazy-shaming are relics of a society where we thought that it was okay to use words like "Retard" and "Lunatic." The sort of society that spawned the practice of paying people with mental handicaps cents on the dollar. The sort of society that lobotomized patients who simply couldn't match societal expectations.
The thing is, we have had unintelligent presidents before. They did well enough, considering their politics. Some of our most revered presidents were mentally ill: including Lincoln. Shaming our current president for being stupid or crazy doesn't hurt him. Instead it flames the fire, encouraging people who have been called "stupid" or "crazy" themselves to double down in their support of him. For those who don't support him, but feel those labels, it only deepens the stigma.
More importantly, it distracts from the real issue. I don't loathe Trump because he is unintelligent or misleading or possibly crazy. I loathe him because he is a horrible person. He is full of hate and bile and greed. He encourages all the worst qualities in his followers, without ever offering anything wholesome or good in exchange.
Maybe he is stupid. Maybe he is crazy. I don't know. But in the end, neither of those things are the root of the issue. Perhaps he isn't really able to be a good president because of those things. Yet, the root of the issue is that Trump's ineptitude in office helps the American people as often as it hurts them. The real trouble has little to do with his mental capacity or health: instead they stem from his rampant greed and nepotism, his hatred for people who he is meant to represent. The horror of Trump as president has far more to do with the openly racist, bigoted, corporate shills that he employs and favors. The horror of Trump isn't that he might be too dumb to know what he is doing; it is that he knows exactly what he is doing and it is terrible.
So let's not be misleading when criticizing him. Yes, his verbal chaos is ripe for picking, but that low hanging fruit also brings with it a world of hurt for the same innocent people who are being hurt by Trump himself. Instead of mocking him, deriding him as a lesser human being who can't help but be terrible, let us accept that he is just not a good person. He's a morally bankrupt tyrant.
So, let's call a spade a spade. Maybe it hurts less to imagine a world where we have a bumbling idiot instead of a monster as a president, but let's be real here: stupid or not, Trump is toxic.