A Second Civil War


I’ll be happy when Donald Trump realizes: No, he’s not exceptional.

It’s incredibly satisfying going through life believing you know more than everyone else. I used to believe this. Maybe not that I was the best, but certainly in the top ten percent. I call this thirty-itis. It’s an inflammation of the brain. In your thirties, your self-worth peaks. Your brain swells because, well, you know everything. I’m fifty-seven now, and I know almost nothing. Don’t believe me? Just ask my kids. I now believe I’m exceptionally average.

Donald Trump is seventy-four and he still knows everything. He can’t claim thirty-itis any more. I call his disorder narcissism.

Nar·cis·sism (noun)
Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself.

How do I know Trump knows everything? He tells me all the time.

“I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”

“I know more about drones than anybody.”

“Nobody knows more about trade than me.”

“I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world.”

“I understand social media. I understand the power of Twitter. I understand the power of Facebook maybe better than almost anybody.” (OK, I might give him this one.)

“I know more about Cory (Booker) than he knows about himself.”

Trump sees the world though a prism fitted specifically to him. I used to think his bluster about being perfect was simply insecure back-patting—Trump just trying to make himself feel better when the media gangs up on him and when his policies don’t achieve a positive result. The easiest, most egregious example of this is his take on his pandemic response. A late-July poll shows less than a third of all Americans approve of his strategy, but in briefing after briefing, Trump touts the beautiful job he’s doing. But now I realize I’m wrong. Trump isn’t trying to mislead the country; he’s truly misleading himself.

Earlier this week, Trump announced he might deliver his nomination speech from the Gettysburg Battlefield. At first blush, this looks like Trump propping himself up again. Two-thirds of the voters in Adams County, Pennsylvania (Gettysburg is the county seat) voted for Trump in 2016. Trump would face a mostly friendly crowd. Plus, given Gettysburg’s proximity to the White House (eighty-five miles away), he could be here by helicopter in less than an hour. This might be the closest location to DC where he’s sure to get applause. But this isn’t the reason he wants to come here. Trump wants to deliver a speech in Gettysburg because he believes it’s his destiny.

President Lincoln visited Gettysburg in 1863 and delivered one of the most revered speeches in American history—the Gettysburg Address. Trump repeatedly compares himself to past presidents:

His obsession with being better than Obama plays out in the newspaper every week.

While signing the Great American Outdoors Act, Trump compared himself to Theodore Roosevelt, calling himself “the same or almost as good” as America’s greatest conservation president.

And then: “With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s ever held this office.”

In a tweet: “Wow, highest Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party. That includes Honest Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.”

Multiple times: “My administration has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln.”

Most recently, Trump and his staffers have suggested that his likeness deserves some real estate on Mt. Rushmore. He sees himself as equal to or better than Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. The thing Trump doesn’t understand is that greatness is for history to decide, not him, and not his followers. Abraham Lincoln would never have suggested his face be carved into a mountain. He didn’t even think he was all that special. In a smile-tugging display of humility and irony, the Gettysburg Address includes the line “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…” Imagine Trump’s Gettysburg speech being recited by school children one-hundred-fifty years from now. “My inaugural crowd was twice the size of Obama’s, and my next one will be very, very big!”

One thing Trump gets right, like Lincoln, he’s presiding over a nation divided. I’m no history buff, so I don’t know the accuracy of this statement, but I can’t believe there have been many times when the United States’ population has been this polarized. Twice in July, armed militia men walked the streets of Gettysburg expecting a fight. The first time with supposed vandals planning to remove the Confederate monuments that line the battlefield (there were no vandals). The second time in the midst of a Black Lives Matter solidarity rally. From my small-town point of view, a second civil war—this time a culture war—has already started.

It’s clear to me, and sixty-some percent of the population, that Trump is no Lincoln. He’s not a Washington, Jefferson or Roosevelt either. He’s not exceptional. He’s a deluded man with the ability to convince himself and many of his followers that he’s perfect in every way.

As a resident of Gettysburg, I’ve never really bought into the Hallowed Ground narrative of the battlefield. It’s a place where an ungodly amount of killing once took place, and I can’t worship it for that. But it’s still a beautiful park with an important history, and I can’t stand the thought of Trump defiling it by delivering a campaign speech here. I wish he’d stay the hell away.

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

34 thoughts on “A Second Civil War

  1. Trump is not an exceptional president. At least he is not exceptional in the good way. He is delusional. The person that most believes in his popularity and awesomeness is himself, you are right. To even suggest that he should be carved into stone makes me think he realizes he might be on the way out, and he doesn’t want to go without a bang – freshly carved with truly great presidents. The boys of this house went to Gettysburg last Saturday to walk the battlefield and to watch the sunset from little round top. It’s a very special place to Bob. Not a place of worship, but a great turning point in the war that as a history buff, he enjoys learning about (well, really, talking about). Having Trump give a campaign speech there would be hard for him as well.


    • Can’t believe you didn’t come with them to run. Although that would be an awfully long time to run. Curious, where did they get dinner. The Trump phenomena is just shocking to me. He’s made countless disqualifying statements over the years that I would think we’re everyone’s last straw, but he keeps a following. How such a coarse, crass man can compare himself to Lincoln is just beyond me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I stayed home with Catelyn who had (has) a bad case of poison ivy. I always knew ONE of my kids would get it as bad as I do. She’s the winner. They got Pizza Hut and had a little picnic on the battlefield somewhere. Then they took a break and went into town and got ice cream. Bob was in awe that they were actually able to find a parking spot in town to do that. He said the ice cream was good and apparently it was the place to go to as the line was very long. I agree. When I hear all of his BS and then someone still supports him it just blows my mind. Why? I just don’t get it.


  2. Delusional, grandiose thinking is a defining characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder (no, I don’t know everything, I googled it! Haha) He is textbook. I hope the selection of Kamala Harris for VP is good news? I have a friend who said she would not vote for Biden unless he picked a good running mate, so she is happy enough with that. I hope you don’t have to deal with a trump rally crowd in your town. If so maybe you can take an overnight trip somewhere else, I probably would anyway.


    • Harris is IMO the best choice Biden could make, She’ll offer no surprises and shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor based on hyper-liberal stances (although this seems to be the tact the GOP is taking in tearing her down). Biden hasn’t just picked the best woman or best Black person, he’s picked the best person. Hopefully US racism isn’t so rampant that it becomes a factor. Do you get to vote? If yes, what state?


      • That’s good. I hope it helps the campaign, not resting under any assumptions that it’s going to be an easy battle! I’m registered to vote in Utah. So basically my vote gets lost in Trump-land. Still going to vote though, and Utah County overseas voters get to vote by app which is cool. Am trying to get everyone I know to make sure they are registered and do it.


        • So essentially, Utah is the most progressive state in the country for voting. Wouldn’t have guessed that. It’s sort of fun living in a battleground state. I used to live in DC and I always felt like I was wasting my time by standing in line to vote.


        • Also, not sure how trustworthy the US Postal service is going to be after what’s happened in the past week. There’s a whole other can of worms right there.


  3. I didn’t know Trump wanted to give a speech at Gettysburg. I try to ignore him but it’s getting increasingly hard to do so (for the opposite reason than he thinks… Not because he’s the best but because he’s the worst). My Dad is a retired history teacher and he knows a lot about history. He would be distraught if Trump spoke at Gettysburg.


    • With Trump, who can be sure what he want’s to do. He says so many things off the cuff. I’m taking this threat seriously though. It seems to fit right in with our recent events here. I worry about violence. I think we were luck there was none on those two weekends in July.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Trump is such a strange creature – for the longest time I thought he was being deliberately funny and his grandiose statements were meant to be hilarious, but sadly it seems he’s just completely and beyond rescue delusional. I just find it too hard to believe anyone could genuinely be THAT out of touch with reality on almost every level. Sure, he must be super smart as a business man or he wouldn’t got to where he got to in that regard (or?) but…. I just can’t quite make sense of him. Totally agree with all you say – brilliantly put and observed.

    I also massively agree with and love “thirty-its”!! I’m also older and now know I know very little. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Not only is Trump not a Lincoln, he is not even a Buchannan (the only president from PA and generally ranked as the worst president in history. Until now.) I keep wondering if he REALLY believes what he is saying or if he is still playing a role. I can’t imagine anyone could possible be so unself-aware!


  6. Trump is the anti-Lincoln. He’s tearing this country further apart by validating all the wing nuts! As bad as he is, it’s the people who still support him that scare the crap out of me!

    Him making a speech at Gettysburg would be, excuse the crudeness, pissing on all the graves.

    I was a Kamala supporter when she was running for President. Then I switched to Bernie… Biden wouldn’t have been my choice, but I would’ve voted for him as a vote AGAINST Trump. I feel better with Kamala as his VP. Trump calls her “nasty”… we need someone willing to be tough.

    On a different note… how’s the heart, dizziness, etc?? Any updates?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so thrilled that Harris is on the ticket. She’s such a perfect pick, I’ve been wondering why Biden’s been dithering around all this time “deciding.” She’s so qualified and so palatable that if someone doesn’t like her, they almost need to check themselves to see if they’re making a racist reaction. I never understood why she didn’t get more traction in the primaries. She deserves this.

      My dizziness has been minimal to none for about a week. If it’s really gone, I think I’m going to assume it was blood pressure medicine/control because that’s the only thing that’s changed. I gave myself a challenging run yesterday and had no problems. Regardless, I’ll be getting a heart rate monitor in a couple of days that will give more info if it comes back

      Liked by 2 people

      • When Biden announced Harris as his running mate I saw a bunch of comments from the BLM activists in my city just completely slamming her on the basis of the whole prosecutor/cop thing. Makes absolutely ZERO sense to me to do that when Trump is the alternative, and especially when they’ve been inviting voter registration groups to their protests! I’m like what?! Neither of them were my favorite pick initially but with Harris on board I’m a little more enthusiastic about the ticket. Not that it would have made a difference in my vote anyway!

        Liked by 1 person

        • This isn’t a time for idealism, it’s a time to win at any cost. I was so worried when Sanders was hanging in there in the primaries because while I think he’s got plenty of great ideas, he’s never going to be elected president. This whole ‘anti-socialist’ movement is stupid, but real. I think this pair of moderates are the right way to go for today’s world. Harris’ prosecutor background disarms some of Trump’s law and order BS.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed! I hope the relentless idealism of our activists here doesn’t deter people from voting “on principle.” I would have loved a more progressive option but this is still good, and more importantly, it’s what we’ve got.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. If you want to control a large population of people, you have to keep them angry and stupid. Donny may not know much, but he’s pretty damn good at that, no matter how you feel about him. Don’t forget 2016, when everyone thought Hillary was going to win in a runaway stomp. Vote early, vote often (?)


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  14. I’m joking,, of course, about early and often. If Trump is going down it has to be fair and square, no matter how corrupt he is. I’m voting at the poll so he can’t tamper with a mail in ballot. You know he’ll try and his brainwashed disciples will do whatever they can to help him. I’ve felt like puking every day for the last four years and I’ve had enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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