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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Captain Queeg is president, and the ship of state is sinking.

The Caine Mutiny is a novel and subsequent movie about a ship's captain who is so deranged that he puts his ship and crew in danger.  Officers on his crew apply a Navy regulation to remove him from command.  The instigators of the move are later court-martialed on a charge of mutiny, but are acquitted when Captain Queeg displays an unfitness for command on the witness stand.  After the trial, the successful defense attorney berates the officers for not supporting Queeg at a time when he needed it.  There has been much discussion about what kind of support could be given, but most commenters take the side that Queeg had to be removed to save the ship and the crew.

With Donald Trump as president, we face a parallel situation regarding the ship of state.  The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump, but the Senate  voted not to remove him.  Day after day, Trump displays his corruption, incompetence, and derangement.   His interview with Mike Wallace on Fox News showed him flailing and floundering,  far out of his depth.  His GOP votaries support him  during the pandemic while his incompetence and corruption plunges the nation into third world status.  While other countries have managed to control the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States is being devastated by it.

The 25th Amendment of the Constitution provides other procedures  for removing a president when cabinet officers and/or Congress determine that he is unable to discharge his duties.  However, Trump's votaries are willing to cover for him in order to keep power, no matter what the effects on the country are.  Rather than join with their Democratic colleagues to work out some plans for addressing the problems facing the country, they join Trump in his malevolent absurdity and widen the divisions within the country.  And rather than suggest to Trump that he change course on his most errant directions, they fawningly fall in line behind him.  

Current polls show that Trump is held in disfavor by  a wide margin.  And there is a strong opposition, such as with The Lincoln Project, in his own party that opposes him.  Trump's constant outpouring of malice and juvenile petulance is an offense that some dedicated Republicans cannot tolerate.   But Trump has a base that regards his depravity as a virtue.  While some commentators have raised the question of how Trump will respond should he lose the election, other students of history say we should be more concerned about what Trump's acolytes will do.  

If even a few of the GOP senators had the intelligence and honesty to examine the corruption of Trump's actions for which he was impeached, it would have sent a signal to his base that his behavior violates the standards of equality, decency, and justice he swore to protect.  It is clear that the GOP has no interest in the principles the republic was established to serve and protect.  The GOP priorities are the greed for money and power to which Trump is dedicated.  The signal received from the GOP is that it will protect and serve venality and fraud as its primary concerns.  

Trump has received in fact the kind of support that Capt. Queeg was denied by his subordinates.  The Caine Mutiny raises questions about how much  loyalty can be extended to a person of defective mind and character.  Or if loyalty to the country is the priority.  

Trump supporters may well erupt in violent insurrection if he loses.  But if he wins, those who oppose him may feel that mutiny is the only way to save themselves from the malignancy of Trump.  The issue is the survival of democracy, and violent times seem almost a certainty.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States