Wednesday, January 20, 2021

It Could Have Been Worse

 Only hours left in the Trump Administration.  I got wrong the prediction in 2016 largely because I thought that enough folks would know that Trump was so very awful.  I thought disabled folks would vote against Trump given how he mocked them. I thought enough Republicans cared about the threat to national security, given his cozy relationship with the Russians.  I thought women and minorities would see his misogyny and white supremacy and be recoiled.  I was relentlessly optimistic about the election because I was relentlessly pessimistic about what a Trump Administration would do and be.  And, yeah, I was mostly right about how awful it would be.

No, we didn't get any "new" wars but Trump did escalate many of the ones the US was in by delegating authorities down to the military--so we got the mother of all bombs in Afghanistan, we got troops getting killed in Niger, we got troops put into harm's way in Syria, we got that failed Yemen raid that first month that did not get Benghazied by Congress.  Oh, and we narrowly avoided war with North Korea in the spring of 2017, a crisis that was fed by Trump's rhetoric and escalation of moves in the region.  Iran?  Getting out of the deal and then putting pressure on Iran in a variety of ways risked war last January and accelerated Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

One of the things I got wrong in the fall of 2016 was how consistent his team was at finding the worst people to run his administration.  I didn't expect the arson to be so widespread and so deep.  Did I expect him to fuck up a pandemic?  No, I could have guessed, but it was not on the top of my mind.  Could I expect him to diminish American leadership in the world, which, in part helped to worsen the pandemic?  Yep.  America First always means America paying a higher price.  

The US dodged a second term.  It should not have been as close as it was, although it was not that close.  That more than 70 million Americans voted for someone who was proven to be incompetent, ill-tempered, highly corrupt, and just supremely awful will be a scar that does not go away.  It wouldn't have even if Trump hadn't perpetuated the big lie that he was cheated and that so many people seem to believe.  If Trump had won a second term, well, it would have continued to get worse.  No doubt about it.  Maybe he would have found a more compliant Attorney General than Barr (which is saying something), leading to prosecutions of Biden, Obama, and others.  The damage done to America in the world would have deepened and so on.  

The bright spot is that by giving permission to the most awful people to be awful, we know who they are, what they are, and we know that the GOP is the Party of Bad Faith.  While empowering white supremacists was awful and will cause more to die, we know more clearly how infiltrated and broken our police forces are, our military is, and, yes, our Congress.  The summer of protests have shifted the terms of the debate.  Americans may not be in love with defund and abolish, but the police brutality against those protesting police brutality has made a dent in how people feel about the police and about Black Lives Matter.  The question is whether the activism will continue.  If my daughter and her suspicion and frustration with Biden is any measure, the activism will definitely continue.  And they will push Biden to do better things.  We can see that already with his Climate Change team.  

Today is a great day--that losers leave even when they are reluctant.  But damn, it was close.  January 6th was closer to being horrific than we thought.  And Trump could have won had things broken differently, I suppose.  That he never reached out beyond his base, always tried to punish those who voted against him ensured he would never get more votes (electoral college, oy).  I look forward to infighting among Dems about the best way to proceed.  Because the Dems are a diverse coalition that believe in democracy, they will not fall in lock-step with anyone, and that makes the Democratics perhaps less effective than the Party of Bad Faith.  But it makes them a better party and better people.  Just having competent, empathetic, experienced people in the administration will make a huge difference.  Rock on, Biden-Harris!

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