Sunday, January 29, 2017

Everybody Just Needs to Chill

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for less than two weeks and many people seem to be coming unhinged by this fact.  The rhetoric that is flying fast and loose out there is outrageous and overblown.

"He is going to get us into a nuclear war"  they say.

"He and his supporters are facsists using the techniques of Adolf Hitler to undermine democracy" they cry.

"The Republicans hold all three branches of the American government and they will use that to undo decades of progress" they howl.

While I agree that Donald Trump is a rube, a boor, a misogynistic racist and that he is probably wholly unqualified for the office he holds his ability to cause real trouble is very limited.

First, he is unlikely to cause a nuclear war because the United States has a MASSIVE military bureaucracy which will prevent him from doing so.  They are hardwired to not enter the US into wars that could lead to an attack on the continental US, such as going to war with another nuclear power, and they are a little gun shy after their latest wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.  Mr. Trump may be able to convince his military to take military action against Iran but that is probably it and anything they do will be designed to satisfy him without endangering too many Americans.  It goes without saying that the only thing such an attack will do is convince the Iranians to build nuclear bombs and to seek an alliance with China.

Second, many point to his tactics for getting elected, such as vilifying the media, blaming foreigners for America's troubles and even bastardizing an old Nazi slogan with the "Let's make American great" slogan.  Many pointed out that Adolf Hitler was elected and then used the power of government to take complete control of that government and they fear the same will happen in the US.

The problem with that is Adolf Hitler won the election to the government of the Weimar Republic, in 1933, a country that had absolutely no democratic tradition and whose democratic institutions had been established in 1919.  To compare Donald Trumps election to the White House to Adolf Hitler's election as Chancellor of Weimar Germany is to compare apples to elephants.

Further, the greatest fear of the writers of the US Constitution was that one of their number would use the Presidency to set themselves up as a King so they created a system of government that makes any kind of change to that system virtually impossible.  In fact, as powers of political leaders go the powers of the President of the United States are weak compared to many of the other leaders of democratic governments around the world. Indeed, if Prime Minister Trudeau was bent on really rocking the boat and making wholesale changes to Canada and its society he would have much more power to do so than the President would have to do the same in the US.

That has just been demonstrated by the fact that a federal judge in New York just stayed his Executive Order stopping immigration from the countries he selected.  He signed the order on Friday and before the weekend was out it was deemed invalid and illegal and is not to be enforced.  I am certain that this is not over yet but this demonstrates that Donald Trump will not be able to run roughshod over America's democratic values and institutions.

Third, the Republicans now hold both chambers of Congress but all of the Members of the House of Representatives and more than a third of the Members of the Senate face an election in 22 months.  In reality that means they need to be in full re-election mode in about 14 months.  If Donald Trump is really proven to be incompetent, as many expect, and he does not have the political smarts to curb his baser instincts, the path to re-election for these members of Congress will be the one that takes them as far away from Donald Trump and his actions/policies as possible.  That will essentially neutralize his Presidency.

Further, the major changes the most ardent Tea Partiers want to make will be very difficult to pull off from a political point of view.  We are seeing that with the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare.  Many Republicans in Congress have Obama derangement syndrome and are therefore bound and determined to remove anything associated with him. Unfortunately, many traditional Republican voters find themselves with much better medical insurance coverage, at a cheaper price, than before Obamacare.  Taking that away from them could have very negative effects on Republican legislative representatives' election chances in a couple of years.  The solution of course will be to replace Obamacare with Obamacare, only it will have a different name.  The change will be cosmetic and symbolic and nothing more.  

The job of an elected politician is to be re-elected.  Republicans will push their agenda to be certain but their desire to be re-elected will temper that effort to a very great extent.  

The election of Donald Trump is unfortunate.  At least that is my opinion.  However, it is not the end of the world.  His ability to cause real trouble is limited by the system he needs to operate in and he has no ability to change that system.  

So everybody needs to step back and take a breath.  Vigilance is definitely warranted but I would say that about all of the leaders we entrust our governments to.  As well, those who oppose him have to be ready to push back against this policies and actions,  But again, the same would be true if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would have won the White House.

In other words, it is really just more of the same and nothing more.  

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