Column: No one has more contempt for America than Donald Trump himself

On Tuesday, the judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial held the former president in criminal contempt for violating his gag order. Nine times. With a fine of $1,000 a pop.

Though it’s shocking that a former president doesn’t appear to understand courtroom rules that anyone who has ever seen “Law & Order” could explain, there is a certain poetic justice.

After all, no one loves contempt more than Donald Trump.

It is his metier, his medium, his world view. Contempt for those who disagree with him, oppose him or attempt to hold him accountable, contempt for the rule of law and norms of governance.

Judge Juan Merchan had previously issued the order to prevent the defendant from threatening or insulting witnesses in the trial, which of course Trump proceeded to do.

Nine grand is a mere bagatelle compared to the $175-million bond he had to pay in his New York fraud case, or the $88.3 million in all that he has been ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll in two separate cases related to Carroll’s claim that Trump sexually assaulted her at a New York department store in 1996, then defamed her by saying she lied about it.

No doubt he will simply roll out another set of campaign solicitations, passing the bill down to his supporters.

There may be clearer ways to declare one’s contempt for hard-working Americans than to continually expect them to foot the bill for a rich man’s court bills, but I can’t think of one at the moment.

Then again, Trump does not like most Americans, or the country in which they live, very much.

As the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol proved, he has nothing but contempt for our electoral process, on which so many democracies have been modeled — a system that gave him the presidency in 2016 despite his losing the popular vote.

As he has said repeatedly, he will, if reelected, pardon those jailed for illegally breaking into and vandalizing one of this country’s most important buildings to threaten members of Congress, and Trump’s own vice president, for doing their sworn Constitutional duty to uphold a free and fair election.

Instead of supporting the ideal of the United States of America, he has exacerbated political and cultural divisions to create the kind of us/them mentality in which families are divided and fascism historically flourishes.

In office he repeatedly attacked or attempted to reject the system of checks and balances that, as every elementary school student learns, was put into place to prevent the rise of a dictator or monarch. A pattern, he has made very clear, he plans to repeat with even more vigor next time around.

But Trump is contemptuous of far more than the American legislative and judicial systems. He is one of a long line of “populist” leaders who say they love a country while making it clear they despise many, if not most, of the people living in it.

From the moment the “grab them by the pussy” tape surfaced, Trump’s contempt for women was obvious, and has been underscored since by his treatment of Carroll, the alleged hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, and, of course, his stacking of the Supreme Court with the justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade.

In a recent interview with Time, he said he would do nothing to prevent states from monitoring women’s pregnancies or prosecuting those who are suspected of having or performing abortions.

Never mind that the majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Why should a president be concerned with the will of the people?

He certainly hates our cities, where 80% of Americans live. Despite being an urban property developer who announced his 2016 candidacy from New York’s Trump Tower, he regularly describes America’s cultural and commercial centers as crime-ridden hellscapes from an apocalyptic nightmare.

Likewise he shows nothing but contempt for many of our states, including California (with almost 38 million people, the country’s most populated), and New York (its fourth). He even suggested recently that Pennsylvania, home to almost 13 million people and one of the 13 original colonies, would cease to exist if he does not win in November.

And then there is Trump’s implicit threat of political violence should he lose again in November. No other presidential candidate in modern history has held the specter of bloodshed over the heads of the American people like this. But such is the contempt Donald Trump feels for our own national history.

“Make America Great Again” may have begun as “nostalgia” for a time that never was, but it has clearly become a dog whistle for rolling back the rights of women, people of color, the poor, the middle class and LGBTQ Americans.

As for this country’s own roots, well, forget “give us your huddled masses.” Trump refers to undocumented immigrants as “animals” and “not human” and has vowed to institute mass deportations — using the military to conduct them if necessary.

When reminded by Time’s Eric Cortellessa that using the military against civilians is against the law, he replied “Well, these aren’t civilians,” he says. “These are people that aren’t legally in our country.”

As if the definition of “civilian” — a person not in the armed services or police force — was the same as “citizen.”

Those who support Trump would do well to keep that in mind. Unlike “civilian,” “citizen” is a fluid term, dependent on the dictates of the state. Particularly if the head of that state believes that his preferences should supersede the dictates of the Constitution. And though being found in criminal contempt of court may not make any difference to his base, it should give pause to anyone on the fence about voting for him this fall. Because Trump’s contempt knows no limits: it could turn on any one at any time.

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