One of the most insane things I’ve seen, heard and read over the last few months has been this liberal hand-wringing which assumes Donald Trump has, or is about to, destroy the United States of America.
It’s true that a President can start a nuclear war, which could spread into a general conflagration doing untold damage to people and the environment. But that’s always true, and it’s like Bugs Bunny said about Martin Martian’s death ray, “But all my friends are on da Earth!” The point being no one wants to make that decision, unless they are truly forced to and Donald Trump is, whatever else he might be, still a human being.
Don’t count your Armageddons before they’re hatched.
Mike Pence would be worse. Paul Ryan would be much worse. These are men with an ideology, religious in Pence’s case, Randian in Ryan’s. Pence might try to re-ignite a kind of Spanish Inquisition, whether we expect it or not. Ryan really is a “zombie eyed granny starver,” as Charlie Pierce has written. We saw that in the health care debate, where he was willing to throw Medicare on the fire to cut taxes for people several brackets above him.
Is Trump the stupidest President? No. George W. Bush was a slavish follower. Jimmy Carter was as naïve as Trump. Harry Truman was completely unqualified. Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge were worse. And that’s just in the last century.
America has a way of dealing with stupid. We isolate it, surround it, wall it off from its worst stupid impulses. This is true for stupid’s political allies, not just his opponents. We’re seeing that in the case of this stupid. The power to make change is draining through Trump’s little fingers like he’s trying to hold water. Liberals complain about all the positions he hasn’t named people for. Good. It means there’s no one around to screw things up – the bureaucracy will go on auto-pilot. Turns out that’s not entirely bad.
What about the charge that Trump is about to destroy democracy? It’s true that the Republican Party has been on a campaign against democracy, small d, since 2009. That’s how they won the Congress, most state houses and the Presidency, by passing laws that kept lots of people from voting, and others from even registering. I think this is the most dangerous thing we face, as a nation.
But I am sick and tired of “pundits” who assume Americans are stupid, that we don’t care, and that we won’t show up. I’m not seeing it anywhere. You attack our system and, while we may be slow to rise, we do rise. Trump isn’t what we faced in the Depression and World War II. Trump isn’t even what we faced during Vietnam, when 500 of our young men were dying every week in a jungle halfway around the world. This is a man, and a political party, who are doing what the majority doesn’t want, and at the end of the day it’s the people who hold the ultimate power in this country. Sometimes it takes time for that to happen, but it does happen.
There was no way we were going to get significant change in this country with a 51-49 Clinton win, with a Congress devoted to destroying her and her party. That result, combined with a big Republican win in the 2018 midterms, due to Democratic complacency, might have resulted in systemic damage that could not be repaired.
This way the damage goes into overdrive, it becomes obvious to anyone with half a brain or half a heart, and people react as they will. We’re seeing it in the polls, and we’re seeing it at the ballot box. All the money in the world won’t change it, and Republicans don’t have all the money.
Then there’s the nonsense about technology being secretly in cahoots with Trump.
It’s true that tech does trickle-down like no Republican ever could. The fortunes amassed by people like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page are matched only by the relative poverty of everyone else. This money isn’t being invested. It’s mostly stock. When even some gets sold, the first thing these sellers do is destroy corporate democracy – hence GOOG and UAA shares that offer no voting rights over management. I’m not saying these guys are angels.
But most of the people making this money, and most of the money, is more like Bill Gates than like Travis Kalanick. Gates has now spent a decade trying to give away his Microsoft fortune. It’s worth more now than it ever was, but he is making the effort. Bezos is building rockets, which is a serious business investment. The Google “other bets” are going to create new solutions to transportation and medical problems we’ve spent decades trying to deal with.
Given the Trump Administration’s host of anti-tech policies, which only start with balkanizing the Internet and refusing to let tech companies import talent, there is no way they’re going to be supportive. Google executives got anything they wanted out of Obama. They’re getting nothing out of Trump. They have long memories. Unlike Trump, they are not stupid.
Back in 1977, when the shoes were all on the other foot, when a Democratic Administration and a Democratic Congress were running roughshod over conservatives who were convinced they were a natural majority, the dominant industry of that time, the oil industry, did something about it. They put their money where their outrage was. How do you think we got the Heritage Foundation, and the Koch Brothers? They were created, out of whole cloth, by oil money.
Now at that time, in early 1977, no one wrote about it. No one in the media saw it coming. Even after the 1978 midterms, with the rise of the “Moral Majority” and “Sagebrush Rebellion,” no one in New York saw it coming. It came just the same.
The point is that you can be angry, you can even feel down, but don’t despair, and don’t give up. Democracy is far more resilient than you think it is. Most of the people, and most of the money, in this country have not been heard from.
When they are, watch out. Within five years, the Republican Party will be a rump.