Exploring Human Potential

Trump – The Modern Day Piper of Hamelin

Posted on | February 17, 2024 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

You would need a mountain of psychiatrists to explain why Trump is the way he is, and an army of scholars to help us understand why Republican leaders, in state and federal positions, have decided to follow this piper’s call.

Which brings me to a well known parable, described below by AI enabled Bing Copilot:

“In the town of Hamelin, during the year 1284, a rat infestation plagued the streets. The townspeople were desperate for a solution. That’s when a mysterious figure appeared—a piper dressed in multicolored (“pied”) clothing. He claimed to be a rat-catcher and promised to rid the town of its vermin.

The mayor, eager to be rid of the rats, struck a deal with the piper. He pledged to pay the piper 1,000 guilders in exchange for his services. The piper accepted and began to play his magic pipe. The enchanting music drew the rats out of their hiding places, and they followed him to the River Weser. There, they drowned, leaving Hamelin rat-free.

However, when it came time to pay the piper, the mayor reneged on his promise. He reduced the payment to a mere 50 guilders and accused the piper of bringing the rats himself as part of an extortion scheme.

Enraged by this betrayal, the piper vowed revenge. On Saint John and Paul’s day, while the adults were attending church, he returned to Hamelin. This time, he was dressed in green like a hunter and played his pipe once more. The haunting melody captivated the town’s children, and 130 of them followed him out of the town and into a mysterious cave.”

In my reading of the parable, the piper is Trump, whose magical tune is addictive, infective, and destructive. He has been hired by the mayor(s), an array of powerful Republican party elite, who, after realizing they couldn’t beat the piper, assumed that they could control him, and use his magnetism to convert long term goals into short term victories. And for four years, from 2016 to 2020, they were right. But the piper’s vision and thirst for revenge, for a million slights and offenses by these fawning elites, never relinquished his dream of ultimate power. Instead, he continued to plow along with his pipe, the one that first attracted the rats (low hanging, ethically compromised, low-lifes like Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) who would soon be indicted), and then returned in 2023, tooting the same song from the same horn, drawing Republican “children” out of their political chambers and into a mysterious cave, unreachable to support immigration reform, oppressed women, or even a beleaguered Ukraine on its soon-to-be last dying breath.

On  June 11, 1944, another presidential  piper, the supremely popular 4-term leader FDR, knew well how to use his song to bring along our citizens. On that day, he promised a “Second Bill of Rights” stating that the original was now “inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness…Necessitous men are not free,” he said.

Harvard-trained moral philosopher Susan Neiman PhD  recalled those words recently in calling for  “a commitment to universalism over tribalism, a firm distinction between justice and power, and a belief in the possibility of progress.”

She also recalled the work product of Eleanor Roosevelt who guided the creation of the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which she herself admitted is “a declaration that remains aspirational.” Signed by 150 nations, it remains the most translated document in the world.

Embedded in the declaration is a broad and inclusive definition of health. It reads “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Most especially, Eleanor Roosevelt highlighted that “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

And yet, as Trump blows his horn from multiple court house steps, in the post-Dobbs era, a recent March of Dimes report states that “maternal deaths are on the rise, with the rate doubling between 2018 to 2021 from 17.4 to 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births.”

Susan Neiman sees the problem as deeply embedded in America’s culture and politics where guideposts and  philosophical values are being dismantled. Cast in this light, the failed U.S. health care system is systematically broken and highly discriminatory at best.

When the piper of Hamelin first led the rats into the river, it was alarmingly easy, and left a wide opening for his next steps. The vacuum left by an erosion of justice is always filled with power – and specifically, power over someone. The targets of Trump’s power play continue to be  women, children, and people of color in America, and the established Republican party. But in the next trip to the river, he believes his ultimate target is within his grasp – it is our Democracy.



2 Responses to “Trump – The Modern Day Piper of Hamelin”

  1. Lawrence Williams
    February 24th, 2024 @ 6:55 pm

    Michael thanks for another outstanding article highlighting the danger the latter day Pied Piper represents to all of us.
    And again the question is why so many voters are taken in by this Con Artist? I believe the answer is twofold. First is a deep dissatisfaction with the workings of government in general. They feel that their government does not value them or understand their needs but rather gives its resources to others. So they vote for the rebel who claims to be for them and not be like past politicians. They ignore all of his faults often claiming that the liberal press is making up all the bad stuff the say he has done and that the courts are prejudiced against their man so what the courts say does not matter. Second those involved in politics at every level who are Republicans like Trump are swept up in the rush of political power that has come their way enabling them to do many things to bring government more in line with their far right agendas. This power is an emotional narcotic and they become addicts. And like any one truly addicted to a drug they will do anything for their next fix. No matter whether it is legal or illegal, right for their constituents or starkly against the interests of those constituents, if it fits their agenda they do it and then marvel at their reelection by those same constituents whose interests they have betrayed.
    And the Piper plays on.
    Take care my friend and please tell Pat I said hello.

  2. Mike Magee
    February 27th, 2024 @ 10:31 am

    Thanks, Larry! Many of us are struggling to answer the same question you pose above, even within our own families. I’m not certain there is a simple answer. The human species after all is not easily governable or civilized. But what I believe most of those who have “made peace with Trump” share in common is “fear and worry about ‘the other,'” and greed and power (in companion with constant concerns that someone or some thing will take it away from them). The odd reality is that this often leads to self-segregation with others similarly disposed who are predatory, and when given time, turn on each other. All in all, it is a bit nerve racking to witness to say the least. Best, Mike

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