Asheville Daily Planet, December 2016
All those thousands and millions of hours of pundits and pollsters telling us what was going to happen and what definitely wasn’t going to happen – and as it turned out, they didn’t know nuthin’.
If I didn’t know nuthin’, I’d sit quiet for a while. But instead, we hear knowing predictions.
We hear how Trump’s inner-liberal will emerge and he’ll work better with Chuck Schumer than with Mitch McConnell, how he’ll finally laugh and say, “All that Wall and Muslim ban and bombing – hey, that was just locker room talk.”
And on the other extreme, there’s David Frum (Republican speechwriter for George Bush), who Tweeted:
“I expect his first priority will be to use the presidency massively to enrich himself….Abuses will start as payback. With a compliant Gop majority in Congress, Trump admin can rewrite laws to enable payback….Current IRS commissioner’s term runs to end 2018….The FBI seems already to have been pre-politicized in Trump’s favor….Construction of the apparatus of revenge and repression will begin opportunistically & haphazardly. It will accelerate methodically.”
But truth is, once again, nobody knows nuthin’ about what Trump will do as president. We’re spectators. Our country’s future, for now, is out of our hands.
So what do we do?
In a discussion group at our church the Sunday before the election, we considered how we should properly “accept” a Donald Trump victory. I came away with a positive attitude bordering on, “How can I help you?”
I’m rethinking that position.
I certainly reject the Rush Limbaugh attitude toward Barack Obama, when he said (January 16, 2009), “I hope Obama fails.” No, that is to wish our country fails.
But I’m drawn back to 2008, when Obama brought with him a Democratic Congress – and then in 2010, a Republican wave swept it all away.
How did it happen? Republicans adopted a secret plan to destroy Obama’s presidency, and by 2010, they were succeeding.
PBS’ “Frontline” tells of a meeting of the GOP leadership in a steak house – on the very night of Obama’s Inauguration. Today’s GOP Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy said in the meeting: “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority. We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”
“Frontline” added: “The new president had no idea what the Republicans were planning.” So he spent a year going from bog to bog trying for bipartisanship.
What a sorry way to run a government! Democrats should never adopt a strategy like this. For the good of our country, Democrats should look for ways to work with President Trump on common objectives.
But we should pay attention to Rep. McCarthy’s first sentence: “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority.”
In 2018, Democrats have 25 Senate seats to defend, to eight Republican seats. It will take a Blue Wave to avoid total obliteration.
I hate to use the words, but the future of good national policy depends on Trump voters’ becoming disenchanted with him. And that means getting a clear message through to the 2016 Trump voter.
Democrats need a plan.
How about this one:
A regular “Opposition Update” briefing at which Democrats give OUR news, such as, “Democrats announce they will join (or oppose) President Trump in such-and-such legislation – for the following reasons.” Or: “We applaud President Trump for his position change on expelling all illegal immigrants.” Or: “Lovers of American democracy should be alert that the IRS has opened an investigation of President Trump’s long-time enemy.” Spokesman would be a constant bullhorn, someone like Joe Biden or a respected outsider to whom a “call” is extended.
Republicans were giddy, it is said, when they left their steak house dinner in 2009 – giddy about stuffing a good man who only wanted to do good things.
We’re the good guys. May the good guys find good ways to get to good ends.
And may each of us find our good way through a saddening time and find our good place in the contest for America’s future.