Trump Is the President We Both Deserve and Need
My three regular readers are probably cleaning up the coffee they spit out upon reading the title of this missive. But people who know me understand that I don’t fit into any easily identifiable political/social box. I am neither Liberal nor Conservative but agree with both depending on the issue. For example, I protested vigorously against the Vietnam War but served there when my time came. I am for a universal carry law but support certain gun restrictions. I voted for both Reagan and Clinton. I have been registered as a Democrat, Republican, and an independent and am just as likely to vote for a Libertarian as I am for any established party.
It seems obvious to me that Trump is the president we deserve. Both he and Clinton became their party’s nominees with less than 10% of registered voters’ support. Trump won the general election with 26% of the popular vote to Clinton’s 27%. Adding in third party voters means that 42% of registered voters failed to vote at all. When close to half of all people who can vote refuse to bother then we get what we get. In this case, a deeply flawed man with no experience in running a government, an impossible agenda (cheaper health care for everyone?), and blatant conflicts of interest due to his business ventures both foreign and domestic. But he is our president even if Clay Aiken got more popular votes.
In spite of all of his shortcomings, Trump may be the president we need at this point in history. Exhibit A is that only a southerner like Lyndon Johnson could get the Civil Rights Act passed and only an anti-communist like Nixon could go to China and open up trade with them. And like Trump, they were two presidents who made major policy mistakes and were hated by a large number of people. Many of Trump voters picked him because he is an outsider. Their hope is that he will keep his promise of “draining the swamp” even though that doesn’t look too likely at this point. Continuing with the analogy, I have no faith in someone’s ability to drain a swamp when they have no knowledge of alligators, snakes, mosquitoes, or fluid dynamic engineering. Yes, I know. He promised to hire the best people. An objective review of his billionaire boys club says he hasn’t even come close to hiring the best people. Can anybody say Michael Flynn? Plus his nepotism would make JFK blush.
None the less, Trump might be just the person to get the country going in a better direction. First of all, he has united the two ends of the political spectrum in ways that we haven’t seen in decades. True, these groups are radically opposed to each other, but I haven’t seen this much grassroots political activity since Vietnam. As a writer and teacher of writing, I love Trump. I never have to worry about column ideas or current examples of logical fallacies to show my students. I just check the daily news. Plus, Trump has single-handedly revived late night television. Furthermore, I have been wrong in the past about political leaders. Even those who made major mistakes or been a failure have helped the country move forward. Ronald Reagan would never have been elected and then built up our military if Jimmy Carter hadn’t been so weak and militarily ineffective during the Iran hostage crisis as an example.
There is a general angst in this country that Trump has tapped into. For reasons that aren’t clear to me, most people think there is something seriously wrong with this country. Republicans have been saying for decades that there is too much government. I think they are wrong, but now that they control all branches of the federal government and 75% of the state and local governments, we will find out if they are right. I personally think it’s the death spiral of the middle class that has made people so fearful of the future. The transfer of sixteen trillion dollars of wealth from the middle class to the upper tenth of a percent is where I’d lay my bet in terms of what’s wrong with America. I suppose that should make me a Bernie Bro, but I have family in Burlington VT. And I wouldn’t trust a maple syrup swilling Vermonter to run anything more complicated than an IHOP. People, and not just Trumpists, are not optimistic in a country that was built and sustained by optimism. Well, optimism, aboriginal genocide, and slave labor.
Trump is unpredictable which means that he is going to continue to create chaos both domestically and abroad. Kim Jung Un and Bashar al-Assad should be getting a little worried right about now. The last two unpredictable presidents we had, Nixon and Reagan accomplished a lot by refusing to play the normal political and diplomatic games. As a real estate developer, Trump knows that destruction always precedes construction. And his top advisor s on record as wanting to destroy the government as it now exists. Whether his administration can engage in creative rather than uncontrolled demolition remains to be seen. The trick is to know what to preserve and what to knock down. Knocking down the Senate filibuster in order to get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court means that we won’t have any more stonewalling of presidential appointments like we had throughout the Obama years. Whether you think that’s a good idea or not, it means that the Senate will have to start doing its job instead of playing keep away with the country’s judiciary.
In the 1960’s, Americans were convinced that we could win any war we got involved in. But LBJ’s disaster in Vietnam proved that the US military’s reliance on nuclear bombs, was ill-suited for modern conflicts. It also showed that political will was just as important as weapons. That realization led to lots of debate and mobilization of public opinion prior to the two Gulf wars. The massive failure of the Johnson administration in Vietnam also led to the US now having the most powerful military in the world. Whether this is a good or bad thing is the subject of another debate. What I think it demonstrates is, that in spite of Trump’s missteps, his amateur approach to government may lead us closer to a more successful one, even if it is by accident rather than design.
Trumpists deny that he is a racist or misogynist. Accuracy aside, many racists and misogynists seem to feel emboldened by his election and have come out in the open. This forces the rest of us to face the reality that racism and sexism are still major issues that need to be dealt with. We also now know who to target politically. As Bill Maher likes to say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. It’s much easier to kill the roaches when you know where they live. And for that, we can thank President Trump.