What Does The President Do?

Getting back to one of the points raised in yesterday's post, maybe I should have been clearer about why so many people are scared shitless right now. It's kind of like a political version of the old fable about the five blind men and the elephant - we tend to perceive the nature of a wider existential threat through the prism of what matters most to each of us.

Set aside for the moment that the cause of such a high level of fear right now is because we elected someone who promised us fear, who ran a campaign based on fear. Instead let's look into some of the concerns that many are having, and what the implications and near term causal effects of a Trump presidency may be. 

Just for starters, and all based on the actual campaign rhetoric and behavior of our new President-elect (and there's lots more - it's almost overwhelming to think about the mass chaos that this elephant has brought with it):

- Immigrant families are worried that they will have their lives uprooted if they get rounded up and deported.
- Muslims are worried that they will be required to register for and be placed on a national watch list.
- Gay and lesbian couples, and their families, are worried that their marriages will be declared void, and their rights as citizens taken away.
- People of color, especially Latinos and Blacks (and I fall under this category also), are worried that they will have to live under the threat of a nationwide "Profile, Stop, and Frisk" policing policy.
- Women are worried that they will have their reproductive rights and the ability to make their own health care decisions taken away from them.
- Many women are worried about living in a society where half the population feels that sexism, misogyny and sexually predatory behavior is normal and tolerable, as exemplified by the president-elect's behavior.
- Older people are worried that their hard earned over a lifetime senior benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security, will be taken away and replaced by new systems that provide much less economic security.
- People in general are worried that a bellicose international posture will result in new wars.
- Young men of draft age are worried that those new wars will be of a magnitude that for the first time since the 1970s, the national military conscription draft will be called up.
- Those who believe the scientific truth of the threat of global climate change are worried that nothing will be done to prevent catastrophic weather events, rising sea levels, and world wide average temperature shifts in the near future.
- Everyone who recognized the very real probability that the President-elect has severe mental and personality disorders, as well as autocratic tendencies, are worried that his equally sociopathic cronies will work to erode the rule of law and enable the rise of an authoritarian state.
- Those in most socio-economic categories are worried that new tax codes will drastically reduce taxes on the very wealthy, and shift the burden onto everyone else.
- Anyone dependent on the social safety net for basic needs, such as mobility services for the disabled, special needs education and school lunch programs, the very poor on food stamps, mental health and crisis prevention services - the list goes on and on - are all worried that funding for those programs will be cut off or drastically rolled back, due to tax cuts.
- All of us who value, and visit, public spaces, parks, national parks and forests and wilderness areas, are worried about the possibility of mass privatization of public land.
- And there's more, lots more...

You Did Vote, Didn't You?

To all of you who are genuinely worried about any or all of this, I'd like to say: Thank you for voting, and at least trying to make sure that the worst wouldn't happen. To any of you who happened to vote for the candidate who promised to disrupt all of our lives, including your own, congratulations, and may you enjoy it. And to those who either didn't vote, for whatever reason, or voted for a third party candidate as a form of protest, or to "follow your conscience", I don't know what to say. Except that everyone who was paying attention, and who worked hard to make you aware of what was going on and what the stakes were, are now feeling - what? Disgust, dismay, disappointment, and next we'll just skip the "E" words and go straight to "F". Not that most of you would ever admit it now, anyway.

Well, time to lighten up. Except for the fact that most of us are soon going to be noticeably poorer, I fearlessly predict that there won't be too very much chaos and there won't be a total downfall of democracy. At least, it won't be total. Maybe dented a bit, but maybe we can get that fixed, after this dark interlude is over, if and when we make it to the other side. Hey, there's going to be a whole lot of hurt, and a whole lot of pain for many of us, but basically we're going to be okay. We're America, we've been though bad shit before, and we always survive.

The Out To Lunch Presidency

This guy who we elected President isn't some kind of evil genius, as many people think. In reality, he's something like an idiot savant, who's incredibly good at one or two things, like self promotion and competition, but basically finds it hard to put one thought in front of the other. Good thing he's rich enough to hire a staff to do his thinking (and dressing, and scheduling) for him. No way he's the New Hitler. More like the New Reagan, who was well known during his time as President for being totally out of the loop on everything going on around him, and slept through national security briefings. Reagan was a borderline Alzheimer's case who still had the ability to turn on the lights inside his head long enough to give a speech or do a photo op, up until the last days of his presidency, when he kind of drifted away.

Trump has given every indication that he doesn't really want to handle the very tough job that being President of the United States is. Back before the Republican Convention, when the hunt for  someone to run as his vice presidential candidate was on, he reached out to Gov John Kasich of Ohio, and gave him the offer of the century, the possibility of being "the most powerful vice president in history". In the Trump campaign's scenario, the "vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy", essentially being the president, and Trump would "be in charge of making America great again”.

The Trump campaign didn't seriously believe he was going to win the election, and did no planning for the eventuality of a win, and are only now putting together a transition team. A few days after the election, his team was still clueless enough to think that all they had to do was show up at the White House, and it would be totally staffed, ready for them to move in. Recently, Trump has announced that he would be living at the White House only part time, and requested national security clearances for his children, who many expect will actually run the show.  He still goes on late night Twitter rants, and expresses the wish to keep having rallies, presumably to continue getting his accustomed psychic recharge. This doesn't sound like someone who was actively planning on being the new Dictator of America.

What Does The Future Hold?

So what does the future hold, and What Does The President Do? Good question, and at this point, my crystal ball is as dependable as anyone else's. No one really knows, so here goes:

A wall will be built. There's already something of a wall, between California and Baja, kind of like a solid steel fence that runs along the border. Remember, the Trump presidency, like his candidacy, will just be a media shit show, with the prime focus on optics, and not actual policy or results. So there will be a great 7 to 9 day media sensation surrounding a big concrete wall being built along a few miles of the border with Mexico, it won't be completed and will accomplish nothing, and all the reporters will go home and all of the Trumpistas will be happy.

There will be a few deportations of immigrant families, all well documented by the media, and that will be that. Nothing like the mass deportations that were promised to a drooling white nationalist Trump voter base, but enough to keep them, once again, complacent and happy. The truth is, and the Republican business elite knows this well, that our economy has come to depend upon a large workforce who are willing to work for sub-minimum wage, who demand no health care and retirement benefits, and don't dare to speak back to their bosses. The illegals will stay, as a permanent sub class, as they always have been.

The Muslim watch list isn't going to happen, but there will be a ton of talk and an active push for it; even for right wing America, absolute curtailment of liberty is going too far. The down side is that all of the media attention is only going to further incite the crazies on the right; expect some isolated violent acts and some mosque vandalizing, but that's it. That's even too much, really, but now that we know, post election, the true extent of racism in this country, it's the best we can hope for.

Nationwide profile, stop and frisk? As any one of us of color already knows, that's the way it rolls, right now, it is the way it is, national policy or no policy. As with other things, expect a lot of bullshit talk, and media demonization, but things won't change, for better or for worse. It's bad enough as it is.

For the main part, same sex marriage won't be threatened, too much. The rabid right wing Christian fundamentalists (how it pains me, who used to be a Sunday school teacher, to write those words) will always need to have something to react and push back against, and may even convince some of the more backward Southern state legislatures to enact local restrictions. There has to be some issue where the Trump presidency wants to at least appear conciliatory, and this will be it. However, if, as some are speculating, Trump resigns or gets impeached within a year, and Pence, a well known homophobe, becomes President, that's another story.

War. There will be war. With who, or why, who cares? It must have been very dull this past decade for everyone who thrives on the excitement that a run up to a war brings. So what if we wake up a few mornings later and wonder what we've done, and who is this stranger in bed with us? This country loves war, or at least the promise of one, and the whole Iraq experience will have taught us nothing. A broader point is that war is immensely profitable; for some people, nobody you or I know. Hopefully it will be a limited war, and not too expensive, without too many casualties.

On the national security front in general, wiser heads will prevail - remember, Trump will be an essentially absentee president, and in any case, he probably knows he doesn't have a clue what's going on, no matter his bluster. Expect a few well written speeches, and visits to the White House by Russian President For Life Putin, but NATO stands, and China is still at least a decade away from building the military required for their planned Pan-Asia takeover. By then, hopefully, we'll have someone in charge that does have a clue.

President Obama made the point that Trump wasn't stable enough to be in charge of the nuclear codes, and that's an unsettling thought. Hold that thought.

Reproductive rights: same as marriage equality - the radical Christian right wing needs an on-going but illusory threat to their existence in order to sustain the vitriol that keeps them funded. So look for another media shit show, a lot of hue and cry on the news shows, a couple congressional committees wasting a ton of money, and besides Planned Parenthood being completely defunded, not a whole lot of change will actually happen.

Climate change, the EPA, wilderness and public spaces, clean water and air guidelines? Republicans always want to roll it all back, and give it all way. They're going to start doing it again, and we have to be vigilant and do what we can to minimize the total harm. Donate to the Sierra Club and other natural conservation groups, so they can keep funding the ongoing legal fight.

Social Security and Medicare. It's a real hoot to think about all those dumb ass Baby Boomers who are totally in bed with a political party who openly says they're going to eliminate senior benefits. Not even waiting until after the inauguration, House speaker Ryan, with the assurance of a presidential signing, announced his planned elimination of Medicare. The fight is on, and may Grandma, and all the stupid Boomers, not starve or die of cancer until it's resolved.

As for the upcoming tax realignment, as well as privatizing Social Security and Medicare, in case you haven't noticed, the Republican mode of governance is as a kleptocracy: "Kleptocracy (from Greek: κλεπτοκρατία, klépto- thieves + -kratos rule, literally "rule by thieves") is a government with corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order to extend their personal wealth and political power." And they now have total power, complete control of all branches of government. And they have as their leader, one of the greediest men ever to go into politics, probably the most money hungry ever in our nation's history, who also admires the head of the world's premier openly kleptocratic government, Russia. And he, along with his cronies and his family, are going to bleed us dry. Considering that one of the members of Trump's transition team is interested in the life-extending properties of blood transfusions from younger people, that's a fitting analogy.

Keep Calm and Carry On

So relax, things won't get too very bad; what these people are really interested in is money. We're only going to get a whole lot poorer, and we'll survive that.

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