(Tom Toles)
Editorial cartoonist

President Trump thrives in an environment of chaos. He takes advantage, or thinks he can, of others when they are off balance. That is why he needs to create and maintain an envelope of constant chaos around him. And by “around him,” I mean that in a generous sense. The whole world is often included.

The formula is: Create disturbance, and pick off foes and recruit the disturbed. Trump did not invent this pattern of behavior; it is the instinctive habit of the authoritarian character. Disturb, reward, punish, repeat. It works until it doesn’t, but before you get to the “doesn’t,” a world of damage can pile up. You are here.

How to respond? I don’t know about you, but here is my response: Don’t play his game. Stop the game. Don’t reward him on the rare occasions he plays nice. Those are the false moments. His long game is to accumulate power and prerogative. Our long game needs to be to disempower him and his enablers.

Because of the fact that the last election yielded him two branches of government (soon to be three), his opponents have a weak hand. No matter. Play the cards as dealt.

What is the goal? Where do we need to be heading if the dust would ever clear? Here’s where: a nation and society that diffuse power to the many, not concentrate it in the few. A nation and society that yield resources and dignity to the many, not the few. A nation and society that embrace the diverse, not just the similar. A nation and society that do not use up the future to serve the immediate. (Yes, read that as climate change.) A nation and society that respect and protect basic human rights and decencies, not a crazed pursuit of power and money.

Trump wants to create enough disturbance that we lose our bearings and forget what it means to be a decent human being and a decent society. He wants to create an environment that looks as though it’s every man for himself and everyone should grab while the grabbing is good. This never ends well. And the later the ending, the worse the ending.

Stop the madness. Vote in November, and meanwhile, remember your values.