The runaway train is rumbling toward us. It’s almost here. What do we do? (A) Jump out of the way? (B) Lie down on the tracks and let it crush us? (C) Pop cans of spinach into our mouths, extend our now-bulging arms, and stop the train dead on its track (or get crushed anyway, trying)?
Okay, now, seriously, folks. We are about to enter partly uncharted (and partly charted) territory. When I feel like my head is about to explode, I like to stop, take a deep breath, and compartmentalize.
In the two months since Donald Trump was elected king by less than a quarter of eligible American voters, all of the impending disasters seemed to run together in one orange blob. But as we turn the corner into an actual Trump-led government, I’m beginning to see three areas of distinct concern that may have less and less to do with each other as we go forward: (1) Trump himself; (2) the hate-filled nutjobs who think they’ve just inherited the country with a mandate to mock and scare and drive out and possibly even kill their nonwhite, non-Christian, non-male enemies; and (3) the Republicans in the House and Senate who are licking their lips at the prospect of turning the clock back to 2000, or 1980, or 1850, or something like that.
I’ll offer a few thoughts on each. I’ll try to be brief; I don’t want to miss Toby Keith.
The nutjobs. This is a very real and scary problem, but one you’d think all reasonable people should be able to unite behind. The litany of threats and attacks that have been made since Trump’s election is too long to recite, but it certainly came home to those of us who live in Albany when the local Jewish Community Center received a bomb threat yesterday (along with Jewish organizations across the country). I certainly hope anti-hate organizations will be joined by a vigorous law-enforcement effort to root out these assholes, but I also hope that the various targets of hate—foreigners, Muslims, Jews, blacks, women, and members of the LGBT community—will be reminded that we all need to be united in opposition to bigotry and hate. In the meantime, there’s a chance this fervor will subside when the hatemongers begin to notice that the billionaires in charge have stopped acting like they care, and also have taken away their health plans.
Trump. This is the real uncharted territory. Megalomaniacal, narcissistic, mentally unstable, unpredictable, unhinged. I don’t know if anyone knows what he is going to do at any given moment, except that he will send off blistering tweets to those who disagree with or mock or publish damning stories about him. And that he’ll revoke press credentials, but since he doesn’t like to give press conferences, I’m not sure how much difference that will make. His business conflicts of interest and international entanglements, his lack of interest in the fundamentals of national security, and his apparent readiness to hastily realign America’s place in the world order, are scary enough before we even consider how he will respond to foreign-policy crises (with tweets?). I should add that Trump also appears to lack interest in running a government, period. Besides clearly preferring to stay at Trump Tower over the White House, and blowing off security briefings, he is way behind in nuts-and-bolts staffing of his administration (see https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-18/the-empty-trump-administration)–which may well mean that basic government functions will be run ineptly, and also suggests that the appointments he has made (besides relatives) likely have been suggested by others who know exactly how the whole thing works.
Back to the business conflicts–I believe he will be in violation of the Constitution, and therefore impeachable, the second he takes the oath of office. But we’ll see who wants to go there (and remember, Mike Pence would not change the dynamic of part three below). I also think Trump is fundamentally at odds with the Republican establishment—even though there hasn’t been much talk of that lately—because of a fundamental difference in their agendas. Trump’s agenda is himself, his ego, his delusions of unlimited power and awesomeness (also frightening, though I for one don’t see him as Hitler). As for the Republicans who actually make the laws …
The Senate and House Republicans. I don’t think most of them give a damn about Trump, except that he has given them the enviable circumstance of having control over all three elements of the legislative and executive branches (and he has cheerfully provided them with the most deplorable of foxes to guard the cabinet henhouses). And what they want is nothing new—this is the “charted territory” part. They already have begun trying to dismantle all the good stuff government does, and they won’t stop trying until … they don’t have majorities any more! Now repeat after me, there’s no time like 2018, there’s no time like 2018 …
Copyright 2017 Stephen Leon