This post is not going to tell you that everything is going to be fine. It is not going to tell you that the system was built to keep men like Trump in check. It is not going to tell you that we are not going to lose big, important battles. Its not, it didn’t work for Jackson, and we will. I’ve said that 2016 was not a dumpster fire, but rather watching a bunch of pyromaniacs fill a dumpster with greasy trash.
Today, they are striking the first matches.
But three things have calmed me down and convinced me that this fight can be won.
- A majority see through this. Real Clear Politics puts his favorability at 41.8%. For comparison, most presidents go months before they dip down under 55%. This is called the honeymoon, the period where the fact that they won casts an aura that convinces a number of people on the fence to support the President for the good of the country and out of respect for the election process. Its not that Trump has not seen a boost because he’s received about 10 points to my eyes. Its that he started from an abysmal base in the low 30s. If you have an unfavorable view of this guy, you are in the majority. When Trump says he won, listen for the echo: Barely! When he says he has a mandate, you should hear in the back: Yeah, no. Even if Trump is ignoring this or pretending the polls are made up, Congress is not.
- Congress has his back.You read that right! The group of people tentatively sticking up for him are Congresspeople. If you were to select a loyal band of followers who would be with you through thick and thin…would you select Congresspeople? Congress is filled with cowards. These are people looking at their reelection prospects. They are like cockroaches: When the light of public scrutiny hits them, them scuttle for shadows. They have a plan to survive the electoral nuclear holocaust that Trump might bring in 2 years and it includes eating his corpse if need be. Call your Senators and Representative about specific, important issues in Congress. Your Representative in particular is trying to figure out how to abandon ship without looking like he or she is abandoning ship. Keep the heat on and they will.
- Dumb and evil is better than smart and evil. I felt a wave of relief watching Besty DeVos’s confirmation hearings. After months of hearing what she’d given money to, I feared that educators were in for a rough four years. After hearing what she had to say about those causes, I realized that she is used to handing money to people who broadly agree with her and letting them figure out the nuts and bolts. Perry and Tillerman both suffer from similar problems. Trump is selecting ideological extremists, but they are largely in over their heads. You know how liberals are (rightfully) upset that Obama deported a record number of people? That happened because Obama appointed people who did a good job…at implementing Bush Era policies. Trump Era competence of Trump Era policies is mostly shaping up to look like better news than the policies alone would suggest.
Each of these points has its downsides. Trump is just going to ignore the polls, Congress will spend some political capital over the objections of the public at large, and Trump won’t do a good job implementing the parts of government we like. It is crucial, as I discussed in my previous post, that we get a strong electoral game for 2018 so that we can run the committees that put checks on Trump. Further, we are going to lose fights—elections matter. But if we keep pressure on the institutions of government, we can staunch the bleeding. Its not the optimism of puppies and rainbows.
It is the optimism that says we are not out of options to fight—so let’s fight.