By Robert Mann
Families don’t usually fall apart suddenly. One day, a husband and wife are inseparable. Two years later, they realize they’ve become strangers, after their relationship gradually fell victim to a hundred minor offenses and omissions.
Societies also fray and fail in incremental ways. Like a pot on the stove with a proverbial frog in it, the temperature of societal change inches up. It’s too late to escape when we reach the boiling point.
Perhaps boiling frogs and dissolving families are apt metaphors for what is happening to this country under Donald Trump. It feels we are slowly forsaking values we once treasured and guarded.
It happens. Germany didn’t descend into madness overnight in 1933. Its road to perdition wasn’t an autobahn but a narrow, winding trail of incremental atrocities and compromises that led people to forget and abandon values they once treasured. In different and tragic ways, Thailand, Turkey, Bangladesh and Nicaragua are also abandoning their democracies and betraying their values.
Could the same happen here? Well, it’s already happening.
Every week — sometimes daily — Trump and his acolytes inject the nation’s bloodstream with a drop or two of poison. By itself, each offense does not undermine societal norms or cripple our democracy. Taken together, the accumulation of toxins could render our treasured values meaningless.
Less than two years ago, we could not have imagined a president who would coarsen the nation’s discourse as Trump has in a few months.
Presidents and other public officials once paid a steep price for spewing profanity and racial slurs. Such behavior now feels normal and is applauded by his supporters.
Previous presidents didn’t abuse the bully pulpit to slander American corporations or individuals. They didn’t threaten to prosecute defeated opponents.
Presidents once responded with empathy and compassion to suffering citizens. Can you imagine any previous president attacking the mayor of an American city devastated by a hurricane? Before Trump, it would have been impossible to conceive of a president who would ridicule the mayor of London after a terrorist attack.
Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.