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This president is the real 'enemy of the people'

In Norwegian Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play, “Enemy of the People,” protagonist Thomas Stockmann becomes an enemy of the people when he stands alone after his public proclamation identifying contamination in the town’s spa water, a position opposed by the mayor, family, and friends.

The concept of “enemy of the people” continues to be bantered around, linked to the press and its alleged “fake news,” but far off track from its meaning in Ibsen’s play, particularly as it reflects Stockmann as a man of principle.

I would like to suggest that “enemy of the people” is actually an accurate term for this president. From the “carnage” metaphor in his inaugural address in 2017 to the present, he has done everything in his power to divide this country — a country already divided throughout its history: slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, guns opposing factions digging in ever deeper with too few infrastructures to bridge the widening gap between them.

While Barack Obama broke the race barrier, the ongoing backlash from his presidency continues to drive this president, whose anger has driven him obsessively to try to undo whatever Obama did.

And as witnessed in his post-acquittal victory lap — visible at the National Prayer Breakfast as disparagement of his opponents — his message reeks of vengeance. He will use every tool in his power, including the Department of Justice, to punish his perceived enemies. He has already removed Alexander Vindman from his White House position. His mendacity is unparalleled. His cruelty is impulsive and unfeeling: mockery of the disabled, children separated from parents, basic protections on clean air and water eliminated, pristine national monuments opened to drilling. Do his rabid supporters realize that his Justice Department lawyers are in court right now arguing against continuance of Obamacare insurance, against coverage for pre-existing conditions?

For Republicans, who seem not bothered by his policies but who are alleged “fiscal conservatives,” why doesn’t the looming $3 trillion deficit disturb them? Because the Republican Party has embraced Trumpism wholeheartedly, ignoring his cruelty while praising hundreds of new conservative judges, many rated as “unqualified” by the American Bar Association. They love business and environmental deregulation. They fully support taxpayer dollars for religious schools while disparaging public schools, now called “government” schools. Republicans who once vilified candidate Trump cultishly support him. Collectively, they have drunk the Kool-Aid.

The egregious behavior of this president will continue, as solemnly and powerfully argued by Rep. Adam Schiff. So, too, the truth will continue to emerge over time; but truth does not seem to matter to Republicans. Truth seems irrelevant, hence an impeachment “trial” with pertinent evidence and witnesses excluded. America will be forever changed without the rule of law.

I sometimes wonder whether resistance will be enough to temper the divisiveness of neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. The worst part for me, reflecting on his vengeance, his lies, his racism — is that I didn’t think my country was like this. Sadly, I appear to be mistaken. I should have been a better student of history.

Marianne Werner lives in Ashland.

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