There is only one word to describe the mandate of the incoming administration: “cruel.”

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Donald J. Trump is a cruel human being. He is a cruel husband. He is a cruel father. He is a cruel businessman. And I’m sure were he to have ever opened his cruel heart long enough to have one, he would be the cruelest of all dog owners.

He is cruel to his peers, cruel to his partners, cruel to his subordinates (whom he views as everyone.) He is friendless and unaware. His tired old tagline is one of the most cruel phrases known to the common worker, “You’re fired.” It’s a cruel casting off of someone despite their contributions, talents, hard work and sincere effort.

His “firings” a simple reflection of all that he does not possess.

He built a brand on cruelty. He stiffs workers. He lies to lenders and backers. He treats women like pieces of hanging meat there to satisfy his corpulent desires and to be invaded by his tiny digits. He refuses to take ownership of his actions unless someone were to lavish praise. Don’t blame me if it goes poorly, but give me credit when it does go well. That’s what the cruelest do.

Gentle people, talented people, people of courage, of letters, soft-spoken people, well-spoken people; people of ideas, of worth — people who put in the effort, invest in community, define their lives and their riches upon whether they made someone else’s day just a little bit better — he has no time or use for them. His insults of civil rights soldiers, honest politicians, volunteers, activists, actors, musicians, families of fallen veterans, writers and scientists are offset by the fact that he seems to admire only people who are as corrupt, classless, dishonest and…cruel as he.

Dictators, in other words.

His followers are cruel too. They shove enlightenment out of the way like it’s something obstructing their path to checkout on Black Friday. They use coded words and phrases to degrade. They are all-too-willing to cast away forbearance, kindness, understanding, kinship …even their own health and happiness, in order to witness others hit bottom. To a person, they get off on watching someone else flail. They are turned on by suffering. They let cruelty fester and release like some sad, lonely revenge porn-fueled orgasm.

Mr. Trump Saturday in a pair of early morning tweets said Representative John Lewis, one of this country’s foremost leaders in kindness and compassion and a living legend of the Civil Rights movement, was “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!” This of a man who was arrested 43 times and beaten within inches of his life to stand up for what’s right. A man whose life is defined by anything but inaction in the face of unrelenting odds.

Trump’s cruelty, in other words, is boundless. Joyless as it is, it is not something he tries to obscure — and his followers feed off it. His cruelty is also something he neither understands nor controls. It is a strange thing to watch, really. Once good folks, God-fearing conservatives who used to fancy themselves a one of a thousand points of light in a country that prides itself in its goodness, a shining city on a hill, its family values at its core, now are hell bent on dismay, death and destruction: Building an industrial war complex, militarizing the police, privatizing prisons and schools and utilities, oppressing and imprisoning those who practice freedom of speech and religion, promoting the doctrine of authoritarian leaders and elevating heads of corporations and military into the highest seats of power in what was once a civilian-led democracy. They are laughing at the misfortunes of others while they actively work to take their own rights away. It is as if they are delivering their own angry, fetid corpses to the stockade.

The reality is America is as much an idea as it is a real thing. We are who we think we are and who we say we are and the actions we put on display. You can see the cruelty coursing through our national dialogue contort those who have exchanged civility for evil, for power, for wealth — their faces ever mangled by unquenchable desire: Jason Chaffetz, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, to name a few. These are men who once believed in the principles of constitutional republicanism, who used their power during the Obama administration to investigate, decry and obstruct. Now that they have the ball they are on self-destruct mode, Bringing down the norms of governance in exchange for ultimate fuck you power. Their names will be synonymous in history with the disease of self-aggrandizement that helped tear apart the fabric of this nation and they will live, forever in infamy, as the cripplers of the faith and the destroyers of the people.

They have succumbed to cruelty. Welcomed it even. They fostered it and nurtured it. And they bask in its full-tilt display.

And let it be known, cruel is a flame-out position. It is consuming and brief but the conflagration will be staggering and mighty. Also, and this is most important, if we do not stand up to cruelty, if we duck and cover and bury our faces in our elbows and obscure our mouths with our cupped hands and stay silent through this and hope that everything will be fine, then we are just as guilty as they are.

So that’s the thing, that’s why people are scared, offended, afraid to speak out/trying hard to to dig in and find the courage to stand up in spite of what that might mean to their families, livelihoods and possessions. Cruelty has always coursed through the hearts of man, but it has never taken hold of the highest office in this land. Intimidation of the masses by the cruel few is here.

Enjoy your brief and devastating run you ugly wretches.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of the novellaBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.