It is tempting to think that the current Trump administration is uniquely bad. In reality, in many cases they have continued polices that liberals and Democrats tended to downplay when they were done by the Obama administration. The harsh treatment of undocumented immigrants, the wars, the bombings and drone killings are things that Trump did not initiate but continued and intensified. This is not to say that Trump is just the same as Obama. He is worse and I think that Kevin Drum has put his finger on one trait that clearly characterizes this administration and current Republicans.
Donald Trump has made plain what’s long lurked barely below the surface of American politics: it’s not so much a contest between liberal and conservative as it is between kindness and meanness. God knows, not every liberal is kind and not every conservative is mean. But that’s sure the way to bet these days.
Republicans are mean and getting meaner. It’s now the foundation of their party, and Trump has decided to make it a selling point, not something to be ashamed of. They’re just plain mean and they’re proud of it.
We have seen this in the way the Trump administration seems determined to deny health care to poor people and to cut food stamps for families with children. But nowhere is this meanness more glaring than in the policy of separating the children of undocumented immigrants from their parents and keeping them in detention centers for extended times without the parents knowing where they are. This is not done with any signs of regret but with relish, as if they enjoy doing it. And it is clear that Trump supporters like it.
It seems as if any act that creates pain and harm to marginalized groups is done just because it causes pain and harm, whether it makes sense or not in terms of policy outcomes.