Writer Rick Perlstein draws some frightening comparisons between Richard Nixon and Donald trump, but concludes that of the two, Nixon, because he was an introspective man, set limits on his immorality. (He’s Making a List,” by Rick Perlstein, New Republic, Jan/Fe, 2017 pgs. 18-19.) Unlike Trump, Nixon knew enough to attempt to hide his transgressions. Trump has made a virtue of Twittering his audacity to the world and convincing far too many that his exposed mental illness depicts a refreshing candor.
What the two men share, says Perlstein, is acute paranoia, both of them bent on creating an enemy’s list that, for Trump, grows by the day. As supporter Omarosa Manigualt explains, the list is necessary, “…so when we get to the White House, we know where we stand.” (Ibid pg. 19) This former TV performer seems to suggest President Trump plans to take prisoners rather than reach across the aisle.
To control your enemies you must first know where to find them. Richard Nixon didn’t hesitate to use government’s intelligence arms to satisfy his paranoid obsession. We remember Watergate. But have we forgotten how the “IRS was deployed to audit  taxpayer returns or take away the nonprofit status of organizations”? (Ibid pg. 18) Given the increased capabilities of the NSA since Nixon’s day, Trump’s ability to intrude into every aspect of a person’s life is disturbing. William Binney, formerly of the NSA, describes the potential for abuse as “nothing short of a ‘turnkey totalitarianism.” (Ibid, pg. 19.) Perlstein draws his own conclusion. We have handed over “the entire apparatus to a paranoid, score-settling sociopath whose primary obsession seems to be with crushing his personal enemies.” (Ibid pg. 19.)
America, we have chosen some bum president’s in the past and survived. But, Donald Trump presents our biggest challenge. I can only hope government red tape and inefficiency will save us from our mistake.