Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Darkest Timeline

I was asked whether I can/should be reassuring people about Trump, and my answer was essentially "hells no!"  I spent last summer and fall reassuring people that Trump would not win.  I, of course, was very wrong. One reason why I was wrong is that I thought that a Trump presidency was so obviously, so predictably going to be a multidimensional disaster that enough responsible Republicans would vote for Hillary Clinton.

My recent move was to deny that I was surprised by whatever Trump was doing--that he long ago entered the Tyson zone so anything could happen and shouldn't shock us.  I would say that I was not surprised but appalled by the latest moves.  Well, four or so days into the Trump Administration, and I have to drop that stance.  Why? Because my imagination is simply not that good.  Trump keeps on making moves that are even worse than I could have imagined.  The latest?  Putting into a key immigration post the guy who ran FAIR, which is anything but, an anti-immigration group.  It is kind of like putting the KKK in charge of Civil Rights.  Oh wait, Trump kind of did that by putting pal of the KKK, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.

It is simply bad and going to get worse for pretty much everyone.  The question is becoming: is this temporary or permanent?  With Trump playing up mythical voter fraud, i.e., #voterfraudfraud, plus Sessions as AG, I worry a great deal about whether the rules will be changed to prevent the Democrats from winning.  That is imaginable.  What else is on the table?  Protectionist trade wars are already in play.  Defaulting on the debt?  Sure. Why not?  We already know that NATO's future is up for grabs.

So, sure, let's be enheartened by the activism of the past weekend and the energy going forward.  But let's not kid ourselves.  With the GOP not blocking Trump's pro-Russia appointment (Tillerson at State) and getting the most extreme policies they have preferred, with the Democrats facing difficult decisions about which things to block (hint: Sessions, ACA repeal, next SCOTUS choice, cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), with the media being overwhelmed by the Distributed Denial of Service attack that is the Trump Administration (where to focus?), and with the domination of Steve Bannon in the White House, I have realized that:
My imagination is simply not dark enough.
 It is going to get worse.  While we must resist and find glimmers of hope (rebellions are built on hope), we have to be realistic.  Yes, non-violent resistance can work, but it takes time, and there is, alas, no inevitability to victory.  We can keep saying that this is going to last only four years, but with Trump's willingness to break rules and norms, we cannot even be assured of that.

We must avoid resting our hopes of fragile reeds. Foreigners kept telling me that campaign promises are one thing, but governing is another.  Oops, broken reed.  The GOP will impeach Trump eventually.  Oops, broken reed.  Trump is just going to delegate, and his son-in-law is pretty reasonable.  Oops, broken reed.  No, we must put our hopes and plans on more solid foundations--that mobilization can work at the local level, that there are actually some limits to federal power, that the courts (in the short term) are still pretty reasonable, that the media is realizing that these are not normal times (NYT and Jake Tapper calling out voterfraudfraud for what it is), and that the government is full of people who may find ways to resist.

Again, I don't want to be too pessimistic, but the time for cautious optimism is past, and the time to prepare for the worst is here.

No comments: