Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trumpism Will Test Our System

The fact that the American people have chosen an unethical, unqualified, racist as our president has been met by a mixture of  shock (me and many others), stark terror (some immigrants who fear deportation), outrage (young people protesting in the streets), and glee (by the small hard core of Donald Trump supporters).

Those, like me, who simply were amazed that polls could be so wrong and so many fellow citizens would vote for such a miserable human being should have done a better job of reading many signals that a huge demand for change was all around us, the Democratic Party candidate was not inspirational, and the samplers of public opinion were using antiquated models.

The youngsters now clogging up traffic and wasting our law enforcement dollars with pointless demonstrations should have used their energy getting out voters to support their causes. Their time now would be better spent in classrooms or adult education courses learning about our democratic system and history. Once the people have selected a leader, our tradition is to move on, more-or-less together, respecting the office of president, no matter how personally repulsive we find the choice to be. That works. Continuing demonstrations in our streets serve no useful purpose.

Trump's more zealous supporters ought to temper their satisfaction, because at least some of his more outrageous proposals will not be enacted. How many, and which ones, remains to be seen. Certainly, the next four years will provide extreme challenges to the checks and balances that are the bedrock of the American form of democracy.

Some opponents charged throughout the campaign that Trump never presented a real program, claiming he merely advanced ideas at random through often vague and confusing televised sound bites and internet tweets. Although a program statement was late in coming, one did appear near the end of October in a speech outlining what Trump pledged he would do in his first 100 days in office. Those interested can find documentation of the speech in several places with a computer search for "Trump's first 100 days." It is interesting reading.

Trump's action items are a strange mixture of Republican (huge tax cuts) and Democratic (public works to stimulate employment) Party ideals and some weird thoughts (a massive concrete wall will solve illegal immigration problems). We have early indications that at least some are not going to be adopted at all, and others will undergo considerable modification.

For example, Trump proposes imposing term limits on Congress, an idea that a fairly large number of Americans would support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's reaction was, "It will not be on the agenda in the Senate." That means it is dead, at least for the foreseeable future.

McConnell took a dim view of Trump's plans for massive infrastructure work, saying it will not be high on the Senate's priority list. He did say he backed achieving improved border security, but made no mention of an immense, and immensely expensive, border wall.

I found McConnell's lack of enthusiasm for major expenditures especially telling. Throughout the campaign, both candidates shied away from detailed discussions of our horrendous national debt situation. I don't think a Congress dominated by conservative Republicans, including many who have been openly hostile to Trump, is going to quickly pass legislation requiring big new expenditures, if it passes such measures at all.

And if some of the crazier stuff on Trump's action list does get through Congress, it faces stern tests in the judicial system. Unfortunately for those of liberal persuasion, the Supreme Court is going to tilt toward conservatism for a long time as the effects of Trump appointments come into play. That, I think, is the most important consequence of the election. However, history has shown that the thinking of even the most biased justices can be balanced by excellent legal arguments by other members of the court.

Will our checks and balances work to keep America great? Let us hope and pray that they will.


Tom Sightings said...

Both sides want to spend lots of money on infrastructure -- and it seems like we need it -- even while people have been talking and worrying about the national debt for decades. So far the expanding debt has been a red herring. It hasn't done us any harm at all. I wonder if it ever will?

Dick Klade said...

Sorry, Tom, but we have one of our rare disagreements. An overly large national debt does us lots of harm. It siphons off billions of dollars that must be used for interest payments. Those dollars could be better used for many things. Up to a point, some debt is not harmful at all, but we are way past that point.

Jhawk23 said...

I'm glad you've pointed out that not everything Trump has ever offered as "policy" will necessarily come to pass. This is the silver lining of his win. The things he is rebuffed on will provide some welcome entertainment as he blusters, denies, and blames somebody else. And he may abandon some of the more extreme ideas of his own volition -- I am told his website has dropped the proposal to ban entry to all Muslims.

Rummuser said...

Not being an American I would rather not comment but leave you with two links.

Dick Klade said...

Rummuser: Thanks for the links. As usual, "The Economist" presents factual reports featuring sound analysis.

Anonymous said...

Hateful rhetoric has consequences.

PiedType said...

Of all the damage Trump could do, short of starting a nuclear war, I fear the appointment of one or more ultraconservative Supreme Court justices will be the worst and most long-lasting. Citizens United will stand. Roe v Wade will fall, along with same-sex marriage. The future looks bleak indeed.

joared said...

This is an excellent assessment of our nation's current situation. I highly recommend reading this commentary I became aware of just today. She's a prominent highly respected 49 year old Russian and American Journalist Masha Gessen who has had first hand experience living different countries:

Kay said...

Will checks and balances be enough to curb this egomaniac? What the heck is wrong with his supporters. How can they possibly think he would be good for this country... We agree about the Supreme Court justices. That is really, really scary.