So, maybe you’ve heard, we got a new President today.
Admittedly, I’ve somewhat dug my head in the sand post-election day but the inauguration events brought a handful of thoughts to my mind.
I have hastily collected them below.
Can we make political speeches great again?
Does every major speech have to remind us what the purpose of a democratic society is? “Together we’re going to make America great again, we’re giving the power to the people, this is for you” There’s a version of this line in almost every speech by politicians. It must be effective because it’s all you hear.
It’s vague enough for anybody to fill in the gaps to their own liking, it’s optimistic, and (most) everybody supports a principle like “we should diffuse power amongst citizens to prevent abuse” so nobody is going to argue with you. It’s a cop-out and we should all be demanding something more substantive by now.
We also got stuff like, “Americans want good schools for their kids, safe neighborhoods, and good jobs” Yes, Donald, nobody is saying otherwise, it’s how we do so that makes the difference.
Can we talk about protests?
Protests were a defining factor of this last cycle. Protests against candidates, anti-protests, the various organized demonstrations, etc.
Let’s get this clear, the expression of free speech and the power of dissent against political leaders are the bedrock of American democracy. Hell, America began as a protest.
The general attitude I see some people express towards protests is confounding.
“Whiners, stop complaining.”
Yes, protest is a form of complaint, but it is a totally acceptable and useful form of action in the face of what you see as injustice.
“Get a job.”
1 – You can take time off of work to attend events that are important to you.
2 – Not everybody works normal or full, M-F, 9-5 hours, allowing you to protest.
3 – Even if you are unemployed, does that make your voice in democracy less meaningful? After all, isn’t the economic hardship of so many Americans a driving cause of Trump?
“You’re not going to change anything, go home”
In fact, peaceful protest is often one of the only things that has brought about meaningful change.
Now, people who cause any kind of destruction or violence are in the wrong, but we should be supportive of all protestors. It’s really one of the most patriotic things you can do.
I hope Trump succeeds, or do I?
I’ve seen a lot of people on social media offer up the comforting sentiment of, “I don’t support him but I hope he succeeds because his success is our success”.
Because for me, Trump’s success = reversing climate action and agreements, wasteful spending on a wall or military ‘rebuilding’, deporting millions, overly-aggressive foreign relations, and more. In this sense, I hope he is a colossal failure.
Or, if you mean the traditional duties of the President, defending the Constitution, American interests at home and abroad, so on, then sure, I hope he succeeds. It may be useful to delineate in the future.
What actually worries me.
One of the worst parts of this past election cycle was watching Trump routinely lie, exaggerate, ad hom, and incite in his debates and speeches. The voters and the media literally couldn’t keep up with it. The constant barrage of misinformation and spin diluted each scandal to the point that instead of them building on top each other, we couldn’t focus on anyone and he got away with all of them.
All of which means he has no incentive to stop.
I’ve criticized liberals in the past for being too eager to jump into outrage. We’re going to have to pick and choose our battles here. If there’s a protest, hashtag, op-ed, celebrity video about every policy action of his then we’re going to commit ourselves to the same downfall.
How will Trump’s messaging change?
I say that because it’s clear now that the man himself will not change. What will be interesting is how his message changes. For 18 months now he has lashed out at how bad things are and how poor a job the current government is doing. It’s always easier to criticize, isn’t it? Well, now, he’s in charge, so there are no fingers to point or blame to assign.
Wait, I take that back, he is absolutely going to blame everybody but himself when he fails to deliver on his numerous lofty promises.
Still, no longer will he be able to rail against the establishment of which he is now a part, and he won’t be able to just talk about the things he is going to do. As it’s been said many times, running for office and actually running a country are immeasurably different jobs, let’s see how he does.
Despite it being the defining phrase of the campaign, we never got an answer on when exactly the last time America was great, and what will have to happen for it to be great again. This vagueness will serve Trump again when he’s able to declare in two years that America is finally great again, signaling his administration as a success.
Who cares what the social, economic, and political situation is in a few years, haven’t you heard? Facts don’t matter anymore. Approval ratings? Rigged. Unemployment numbers? Inaccurate. Media? Crooked. I expect much of the same distortion and lies that powered him to the White House.
My only optimism.
So many people were upset with the current state of affairs in Washington that they were ready to throw a sledge-hammer in the shape of Trump at the whole system. Apparently, the idea being that it couldn’t get much worse so let’s just break it all. Well, we’re about to see how much worse things can get, because they always can.
When the debt spikes because we cut taxes while spending ‘trillions’ on infrastructure and weapons while not touching Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security.
When jobs and incomes don’t rise because he tries to resurrect an economy that hasn’t existed in 30 years.
When the dysfunction in DC increases because federal agencies aren’t run by experts in their fields but Trump’s sycophants.
When the world becomes more unstable because the strongest country in the history of the world pulls out of global affairs.
I just hope all of his fans realize that electing a willfully ignorant, petty, vengeful, billionaire to solve their concerns was a massive mistake and we can all learn that lesson moving forward.