Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump's America

The best thing one can say about Trump’s America as we approach the fourth of July is the
practice for free speech he exudes in his tweets!  He is willing to say whatever is on his mind, no matter how sexist, demeaning, juvenile, or small it may be.  Case in point, his latest attack on Mika Brezinski.  But that may be the extent of Trump’s knowledge or respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights–rights for he but not for thee.
No one should be surprised by Trump’s crassness and sexism.  It was on display during the election. It is embarrassing enough to have a juvenile-in-chief as President of the United States, but it is even worse to think about the contempt or ignorance he has shown for the rest of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Abusing the press by blocking cameras from press conferences, spewing alternative facts, and Muslim travel bans, are only part of the vision of Trump’s America.  But it also how he is providing a role model for a culture that feels it is okay to be mean toward others with whom you disagree.  All this is bad enough.
But now pity the Republican and Democratic parties.  For the Republicans this should be their hour.  They control all the institutions of federal power, many of the state ones too, yet they look perfectly inept.  When given the institutions of power to govern they look worse than the gang that could not shoot strait.  Trump has no major legislative policy victory yet and it still may not happen with health care.  And even if it does, it will do little to benefit the very constituencies that elected him and so many Republicans.  Republican governors and members of Congress, confronting the reality of their policy rhetoric and proposals for the last few years, are blinking.  They can actually do what they want and either are scared to do it or realize they have no plan, no narrative, no clue to how to govern or rule.
I remember late last fall after the election when I was asked to give a talk about what the election meant and what the future would look like under Trump.  The other speaker was simply a  former Republican lieutenant governor candidate in Minnesota who described how “giddy” Republicans were in Washington at the prospect of doing what they wanted.  Not sure giddy is the word I would use now.  Trump has proved to be one of several impediments to the GOP getting anything done.  Trump is a diversion from Republican governance, preventing them from getting anything accomplished.  Throw in the Russian probe and it is intra-party gridlock through 2018.  And if the Democrats manage to get their act together and take back the Senate in 2018, gridlock  through 2020 and into 2021.
But the Democrats getting their act together is a big if.  They are the party without a narrative, a strategy, and a clue to how to win again except in the cities and communities where any Democrats can win.  While opposition to Obama was enough for Republicans to win, opposition to Trump is not enough.  The Democrats are a party on the run, lacking an alternative narrative to free markets and no government über alles and to the insufficiencies of the watered-down neo-liberal welfare state  policies they embraced for the last quarter century that failed to benefit the working class who fled them for the GOP.
Trump’s America is not just about Trump.  It is about a United States that is less than believing that all of us are created equal.  It is one that is about a divided country where the democratic institutions are still working, although barely, but certainly not in the way we hoped they would be.  It is about a failure of leaders, parties, and even people to act responsibly and work together.  Trump is not the cause, he is the symptom of something more deeply wrong in America  right now.  Making America great again should not be a slogan, it should be about addressing the racial and economic gaps in the country, about making it possible for people to afford to buy health insurance, eat, live in a decent neighborhood, raise children and send them off to an affordable college, and be able to drink clean water and inhale clean air.  It is about everyone having a place at democracy’s table.  This is what July 4, 1776 was about, not what it has become under Trump.


  1. He's at it again:

    "On Sunday, Mr. Trump continued his attacks on the media. He posted on Twitter an old video clip of him at a World Wrestling Entertainment event in which he appears to be pummeling his opponent, who has the CNN logo superimposed on his head. Leaving his opponent on the ground in the video, Mr. Trump walks away."

    Unless he's upped his video editing game -- unlikely -- somebody is aiding and abetting his Twitter activities.

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