Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Trump: An opportunity as well as a curse
Yes, Wednesday is the first anniversary of Donald Trump being elected president of the United States.
And yes, were I so inclined, I could don sackcloth, dab myself in ash, and squat at the city gates, beating myself on the head and wailing.
I could go the "Nakba" route—evoking the word Palestinians use to describe the founding of Israel, "catastrophe." And there is no question that a Trump presidency has inflicted lasting damage on this country.
But lots of people can be counted on to express that. And to be honest, my heart isn't in it. We are heading for catastrophe, too. But we also now clearly see what for years could be ignored. And you can't fix a situation that you don't yet recognize.
Sometimes terrible occurrences can have good results. Something awful happens, but then you become aware of it, and change and things get better. And if there is one thing that is true about Donald Trump, as I've said before, he's a symptom and not a cause. He is the same lying, bullying fraud he has always been, subtle as a brick, obvious as can be.
Nearly half of America voted for him anyway.
That is the terrible part. America elected him. He spread his goods—xenophobia, malice, deceit, delusion, ignorance—and 63 million of us signed on up.
The question now: is Trump our rock bottom? Or are there hells below this one?
At least we now get to see what it's like to have a leader like him. Where those qualities take us. The sort of people who will support a Donald Trump—81 percent of Evangelical Christians. Imagine how that will sit in elections to come.
Lots of people are in denial—that's what got Trump elected in the first place—but not everybody is. Trump's poll numbers are at historic lows. Pushback is enormous and immediate.
I don't want to put too rosy a spin on it. Refugees have been turned away, healthcare undermined, haters emboldened. The Republicans are busy suppressing voting rights, skewing the system to bind the whip in their minority hand.
All troublesome. But we are not watching the American Reich rise. Not yet anyway. The marchers in Charlottesville found themselves outed on Twitter and lost their jobs. Red-hatted gangs of thugs are not prowling the streets. ObamaCare was not repealed. The line-the-pockets-of-the-rich tax reform seems too horrible to actually pass. When you look at whatever environmental regulation or safety policy is being scrapped, odds are it was enacted five years ago. We aren't going back decades in time, not yet anyway.
Maybe we had to go through this to get to the other side. And I'm not even convinced that Trump is the nadir. We could get Ted Cruz and who knows what kind of Trump 2.0, more polished, more effective. There are hells below this. If Donald Trump, elected one year ago, is the rock bottom that we bounce up from, then America will have gotten off lucky, again. I can't tell which, because I live in an area where revulsion with Trump is the norm, and I've pretty much filtered out all his fans by now.
This is a process. The election of Donald Trump is an x-ray with a big tumor on it. The tumor was already there. Better that we found out, and as painful and terrifying as this treatment is, it is treatment nonetheless. We can't say our problems are hidden from us anymore. The situation is painfully clear. Success is uncertain. But the battle lines are drawn. We see the eyes of everything ugly in this country, staring starkly back at us. Recognizing electorate who would embrace this, has to be the first step in fixing whatever the problem is, in building a better country. Trump didn't have to happen, but he did, and it is an opportunity as well as a curse.