…..or maybe not
Here in the USA, we are facing a number of perplexing situations.
Foremost seems to be the hesitancy – or unreadiness – of members of Congress to realize how enthusiastic the nation is for direct and meaningful conversation with the new administration on a number of troubling topics.
Evidence for this excited determination to be part of a dialogue with the Trumpistas comes in simple form: more than a million men and women who demonstrated last Saturday throughout the nation, ostensibly in favor of women’s rights, but subsidiarily as a warning that whatever the new administration does, on any number of important fronts, it is being parsed, dissected, and weighed in view of history and the future. Which is to say, the administration is now, and will continue to be, out on bail.
It is key to recall that Trumpistas themselves amount basically to only 25 percent of the American voting public. This figure is divined by the fact that party registration divides the nation in half, and of that one Republican half, only half declare themselves to be unswervingly in favor of Mr. Trump, his ideas, his appointments, his plans as guessed at – real evidence of his plans and proposals is difficult to ferret. This partially accounts for the radio-silence of many Republican congressmen and women who cannot criticize, or second, what Trump is doing because they – no more than the rest of the country – cannot understand what it is.
“The base” that Trump seems so hard to be wooing daily is therefore a comparatively small and ingrown percentage of Republicans who, from the first, have followed him slavishly and hopefully….regardless of the prospect of hurting their own lives and livelihoods by giving Mr. Trump carte blanche.
More than half the nation, however, is ready to play hardball. Democratic congressional leaders, encapsulated within outdated polls and habits, seem to be striving to “be the good guys” (see the confirming of Ben Carson at HUD when he himself admitted he was unqualified to direct an arm of the government) and dedicated to “giving the guy a chance.”
What the marches plainly showed was that half the nation doesn’t want to wait to be Alphonse.
What this half of the country needs is a leader to galvanize its separate entities, to go full bore at the administration – as indeed the Republicans did in 2009 against Barack Obama.
All any of us can say now about Mr. Trump’s drive towards change is that it reads as though it has been following “It Can’t Happen Here,” Sinclair Lewis’s amazingly prescient novel written and published in 1936. Even at that, Trump’s progress towards dominance over American citizens is happening with real nonfiction speed.
We’re told that the number of “requests” from the “new administration” for names and dates of US employees who attended in the past year Climate Change discussions are, in fact, only designed to put each department of the civilian government on the same page. Designed, therefore, to give the administration a chance to breathe, to learn, to catch up. We are advised not to get our knickers in an uproar just because four departments within the executive branch have been muzzled or at least persuaded to communicate with the public only in the most simplistic fashion, and only after “executive review.”
The EPA, NIH, Defense Departments as well as the State Department have, in effect, been co-opted, their web sites edited heavily. Simple truths are disappearing in favor of “alternate facts.” Orwell’s “1984”s ‘newspeak’ reigns.
Equally disturbing are the “leaked” items on Trump’s proposed list of actions-to-be-taken: the dismantling of NATO, the US’s gradual withdrawal (financially only, we hope) from the United Nations, the dynamiting of regulations that to date have kept us above ground rather than under it prospecting for fossil fuels, the transporting of same along two pipelines earlier deemed to be hazardous to the center of the country. And in a side-bar, the inching towards restructuring “black sites,” prisons meant for terrorists or those who come from terrorist-sponsoring countries. Oh, and “we’re” rethinking water-boarding.
For those Americans who waken each morning to roiling stomachs full of dread, disappointment, and dismay, it is critical to remember that if Trump should actually be an obsessive personality, should he o’erstep the boundaries of American history and behavior, even worse could occur under the leadership of Indiana’s Mike Pence – who appears to be an honest evangelical bigot. (Don’t take our word for this: look at his paper trail as US representative and then as Governor of Indiana. Pence’s very presence is Trump’s best insurance policy. Feeling better?)
Forget nepotism and the MidEast. Forget Iran and Russia and Mexico. Forget the confusion Trump is causing in our allies. Forget how conveniently Trump echoes Vladimir Putin’s best dreams. Forget about last night’s purge at the State Department. Forget about our common description of what constitutes madness when considering crowd sizes. Never mind North Korea. Never mind new Chinese islands. Never mind about the foxes in the Federal hen houses – cabinet nominees whose entire thrust is to decimate and do away with the departments for which they putatively have responsibility. Forget about Tom Price.
Ignore the prospect of Europe’s rightward swing that seems to so many happy proto-fascists elections that will make Mr. Trump happy.
Remember that Mr. Trump’s job – apart from securing national security – it to make US happy.
Divided as we are, that isn’t easy. But it also seems clear that our new leader’s actions aren’t necessarily making him happy either. We yield to no one in our admiration for Kellyanne Conway and we only wish (a) there was a second personality like hers or (b) we could seduce her to switch teams. Even better would be the lack of necessity for a translator like Ms. Conway. Nearly every time Trump speaks, she has to rescue him.
We make ourselves sick with worry over America’s future. Kellyanne calms us down. It would be foolhardy to accept her “alternate facts” as soothing explanations. In time, perhaps her boss can do the “walking back,” the explications so necessary to calm our native hearts, our foreign friends’.
“We” wanted change. We got it. Now we want change again. This time change without megalomania, with recognition of simple, plain facts, this time with a sense of forward action rather than reactionary make-believe.
With the history of our great nation before us – a history with which Mr. Trump seems totally unacquainted – we can get it.