Trump And The Art Of Victim Blaming

By David Malcolm

Being a leader is never easy. Leaders shoulder much of the burden when things go wrong. They have to perform at their best all the time but, no matter what, someone will always criticise your actions. Being a leader is tough but sometimes you get the leader who throws blame elsewhere. Why take responsibility when you can blame everyone else for your woes? This happens more regularly than most people would like with Trump.

Trump has the two basic responses to events: it’s either great or terrible. This black and white approach means that those who fail to respect his lackluster responses face his wrath. Such is the sad case of San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz who has repeatedly urged for more help and often berated the administration for not responding quickly enough to the dire situation. She stayed in her own city to help those in need and slammed those for trivializing Puerto Rico’s situation.

For speaking out in such a way, she has been harassed by Donald Trump in the usual 140 character rants on Twitter. According to Trump, he took Puerto Rico’s situation seriously. So seriously that he held a brief meeting at his golf club and then attacked the NFL for the whole ‘taking a knee’ debate. The debate not only proved divisive and sparked similar protests, it diverted much-needed attention from Puerto Rico.

Trump also decided that Puerto Rico’s huge debt was the real issue here. The fact that Puerto Rico was heavily in debt rather than the plight of 3.5 million American citizens without food, water or electricity was much more important. Essentially, Puerto Rico was to blame for the situation they were in and cutting Trump’s golfing holiday short.

His visit has been punctuated by a ‘joke’ that Puerto Rico’s devastation has thrown the budget ‘out of whack’. Perhaps a future topic for his base to chew on, that Spanish-speakers are stealing their hard-earned benefits. The only thing stopping Trump from going further was probably a gentle reminder that these people are American citizens.

Don’t worry though! Trump will throw you some paper towels for you. Then he’ll explain how the death of sixteen people has made the hurricane you suffered better than Katrina.

The President of the United States is the most powerful leader of the free world. When times are dark and dire, they serve as a beacon of hope and reason. What they don’t do is have very public spats with politicians who are actually doing something to help their people. They do not take a full five days to respond to what is essentially a national tragedy.

The terrible shooting in Las Vegas briefly showed us that Trump can act like a president. Credit where it’s due, it was a good speech. However, he must shoulder his share of the burden and take the rightful blame that is his. Shifting blame to the victim is the lowest, basest thing a leader can do.

Playing the blame game is not leadership, but then Trump is not a leader. His victim blaming is almost an art form and once again, he picked the wrong target in Carmen Yulín Cruz.  A no-nonsense, hands-on politicians, blessed with a talent for empathy who refuses to stoop to Trump’s level and take it personally.

In a time of strongmen and uninspiring leadership, Carmen Yulín Cruz is a breath of fresh air in the realms of leadership. Sadly, it has taken a major natural disaster and a public shaming on Twitter for us to realize her qualities. She is the leader that country deserves, but not the one it can have right now.

Donald Trump, show some dignity. Remember your duty to ALL you citizens. Take the blame that is yours to take and leave the victim-blaming to the bullies of the world.

I'm a historian based in the UK who likes jumping from one thought to next. I love to learn new things and explore other ideas.

One comment

  1. I’ve totally given up on the idea that Trump will ever handle anything like a true President of the United States. He does not possess one, count them, ONE quality that our country can relate to in respect to what we need as a leader. His speech about the Las Vegas shootings was acceptable but it lacked true conviction in his voice. He read it like a homework paper. He does not have the gene that one needs to connect with people on a personal level. He should have had Mike Pence deliver the speech. He at least has a sincere inflection that Trump can’t even fake. His botching of aid and response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico is proof positive that he views that island as a lesser existence than, say, New York or any city where he has a property that makes him money.
    I’m sorry if I sound cynical but he has proven over and over what a failure he is as potus. His interests lie in his businesses and his profit line and nothing else.
    Donals Trump is an empty shell. God help us.

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