By Scott Ragsdale
This is the second in a series of essays designed to draw conclusions from our predicament that will allow organizations of citizens to return decency to power. The first essay made the case that 1) Trump is just as partisan and narcissistic as he appears. 2) that Trump’s appearance and the constraints that disabled Obama’s Administration can be explained by American Exceptionalism. 3) Our American Exceptionalism exonerates a toxic narrative. That narrative has to be intentionally purged and replace by positive dignified inclusive leadership.
This second essay “Trump Distress Disorder” has three parts.
- “Dismayed Yes, Surprised No” Outrage is part of the 2016 Republican Platform
- “Trumplandish Cabinet Appointments Laws and Orders”
- “Welcome the Return of the Swing Voter”
Conclusion: The Trump Administration is deliberately combative and mean. Don’t let that distract you from the careful watch and multiple actions that must continue until we have a chance to rebuke him and his Republican accomplices. We will find moderates and formerly less engaged voters on our side. Welcome them. We will press “reset” together in 2018.
Dismayed Yes, Surprised No:
The daily delivery of brazen attacks on the progress of a free people by this Administration is intentional. Certainly, an emotional response is warranted, but so is a lasting strategic response.
Some amount of the voting public likes what Trump and the Republicans are doing. As I pointed out in my comments in the first “World Citizen” essay, you might be dismayed, but no one should be surprised by the actions of this Administration and the tacit approval provided by the majority party in congress.” The actions of this Administration can be clearly anticipated from the 2016 Republican Party Platform.
In addition to the appointments of imminently unqualified/partisan cabinet members, there are outrageous enactments designed to enthrall the most avid Trump constituent. The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is obviously playing to a crowd that is not in the room when belittling and combatting the press core.
Mitch McConnell was not settling a personal score by misusing the power of the majority to silence Elizabeth Warren. Her testimony during Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) cabinet hearing was hardly controversial. I agree with the analysis of Solan.com that McConnell was purposefully being egregious to fire up Trump’s base.
Going forward, I would expect any minority party Senator to consider doing jail time rather than submit to the Majority Leader’s hyperbolic application of the silencing rule. This too could be a more dangerous calculous by the Administration to push for the appearance of lawlessness in the Senate.
Trump’s Administration is daring us and our representatives to break laws while he and his party have control of the police and military. To combat this – well before 18 months pass – our voices and strategy need to be more unified and we need to apply disciplined lawful resistance.
Disciplined lawful resistance will require us to be prepared for a barrage of insults to our democracy.
Trumplandish Cabinet Appointments, Laws and Regulations:
Out of the 28 Trump appointments only one, Andrew Puzder, candidate for Secretary of Labor (CEO of CKE Restaurants (including Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s franchises) may be rejected. Puzder’s long history of sexual harassment, wage withholding, and the hiring undocumented workers may be too much for the Republicans.
With so many Trump appointments getting the green light – even DeVos – it may be time to make a show. A down vote on Puzder might provide some appearance of “balance” that will be used to hide the immense collateral damage.
List of the most egregious appointments:
- Secretary of State: Past Chairman of Exxon Mobile Rex Tillerson – clearly a man with a vision for oil extraction windfalls and a win win policy as in “heads I win tails you lose” state policy.
- CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who called for the execution of Snowden. Pompeo will purge the CIA of all America 1st naysayers even as US international political influence continues to deteriorate.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions whose best attribute is that he is probably not as racist as he is being portrayed. Those who have been denied family planning or the vote should not look for help from the federal department of justice department.
- Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, multi-billion dollar Amway heiress (whose brother founded the for-profit Blackwater private military firm) is a lobbyist for school vouchers and a critic of public schools.
- Scott Pruitt, Secretary of Environment Protection whose transition team director Myron Ebel said “slashing the agencies (EPA) size by about half would be a good start”
People last policies;
A Trump budget calls for “about $10 trillion in cuts over ten years… eliminating the Economic Development Administration, International Trade Administration, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, and the Minority Business Development Agency… Parity in cuts between defense and non-defense spending may (will) be a thing of the past.” (International Economic Development Council, January 25, 2017 mail blast, italics mine).
To begin with most feral employees have been served gage orders to “cease communicating with the public through news releases, official social media accounts and correspondence.” Public access is being deliberately curtailed. How will information flow fare with pink slips likely for 50% of all federal employees?
Net Neutrality will be next, as incoming Federal Communications Commission Chair, Ajit Pai “will no doubt… scrap or restrict net-neutrality rules and reject recent broadband privacy reforms. Our information resources are going to be compromised.” (George Zornick and Zoe Carpenter, The Nation 1/27/2017)
“They (Trump Administration) are cutting out the middleman”, explains Naomi Klien, who reasons that “the mask has fallen off, and we now are witnessing undisguised corporate rule…, not because these corporations felt all-powerful; it’s because they were panicked.” The Nation, January 28, 2017.
Well the panicked have friends in congress and they just introduced H.R. 861. A bill that would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More bills are to come, some just to provoke opponents and inspire the Tea Party faithful.
As I wrote at the end of the last section of this essay, the above “nuclear” options are part of creating a disruptive atmosphere to keep you “up in arms” and the faithful from noticing that they are being fleeced. It’s not working.
Return of the Swing Voter:
Among the things we can do as this tragedy unfolds is not make the citation worse. We can be just as loud, just as determined and just as active, but let’s not alienate those that want to join (return to) us. Like my friend John, a swing voter does not identify with the shrill finger pointing left.
John, a long-time entertainment industry executive, is a Democrat who votes independent. He does not condemn those who were disaffected by Hillary. He reservedly voted for her. And he can see why some might have voted for Trump. Not regularly concerned about politics, fear of a President Trump has him more engaged than I can remember.
In his quest to find a way forward, John shared a blog by writer/baseball consultant Bill James, “How the Democrats Can Win Kansas.” It was described to me as the best, so far, single treatment of how to listen to the “fed-up.” I found it entertaining, disturbing, hopeful and instructive. I did not agree with everything Mr. James said, but I read it.
Bill finds hope in a party of ideas that will make college education free, reform and repeal drug laws, rebuild inner cities and reform incarceration policy for non-violent crimes. He points out that the Midwest, like the coasts, is convinced that concentration of wealth is a disease.
Bill James says that the Democratic Party is not principled enough and bold enough as he would advise it to be. That Hillary and the Democratic party is/was viewed as just as likely to allow corporations to race to the bottom and ship jobs and toxic practices overseas as the next major party.
Swing voter Bill recommends that liberals not make the mistake of thinking that people who did not vote or that voted for Trump were blind to Trump’s failings or endorsed his worst ideas. What Bill recognizes is that some of what Trump espoused is true. In Trump’s inaugural address he said – “Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.”
Bill is saying that people believed they had a better chance of spreading the wealth with Trump than with Hillary. Bill does not deny Trump’s race baiting and voter repression (he does not actually speak to voter repression). But his point is that trust in Hillary was hard to come by.
Bill takes issue with the Democratic policy around immigration and citizenship – that Democrats want to give away citizenship. He goes into some detail about how citizenship is like property and something that you can’t just give away.
I disagree with the idea that citizenship is property. My view and many in my liberal camp are more likely to subscribe to the American Indian proverb “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
The point Bill and my friend John, and I suspect a good portion of the country, are trying to make is that not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist anti-choice gun brandishing Biblicist. What they are asking for is less volume, more discourse and more considered demonstration of principle.
The reasons the middle of the country moved away from the Democratic party are not that different from the reasons the party dissolved from within– “It is tiptoeing around what you really believe, rather than asserting what you believe.” Bill James.
There should be no surprise about the policies that the Trump Administration wants to implement. The Administration is deliberately brazen and thrives on the chaotic cloud that Trump adviser Bannon labels “winning.” This is done so that the Trump faithful don’t notice that most laws and regulations put in place are counter to their populist interests.
The faithful are so infatuated with our liberal distress (amplified by the media), they too are being discouraged from paying attention. We, the liberal distressed voter, will have a lot more success if we stop short of apoplectic and emotionally prepare for the onslaught of outrageous accord between congress and the Administration.
It’s obvious that Trump’s government is not making America Great again, He is making it less safe and more toxic. This too is obvious to many of those who were moderately opposed to Hillary and willing to temporarily suspend their rejection of Trump.
The swing voter and the moderately conservative have minds and those minds are changing. They don’t want to be called die-hard Trump lovers. They are telling us they want out too. They want to join us and like most of us they are also looking to press restart.
Find a way to let them join us liberals – stand on principle and hold your ground!