I am slowly coming to accept that Trump is going to be our new president. Still quite a shock, but there it is. A few thoughts.
It seems to me that my liberal friends and I are now feeling the way my conservative friends felt for the last eight years. I believe they were just as shocked and appalled by Obama as I am by Trump. It had always seemed to me that their fears and dismay were unfounded, and indeed Obama was not a socialist, not a Muslim, not in cahoots with the Islamic Jihad, not a foreign policy wimp, not out to disarm the populace and install a left wing dictatorship, not... whatever else was in the basket of fears on the right. But, it is clear that the right wing did everything they could to oppose everything Obama and his administration tried to do. Fortunately, they failed in blocking everything, but try their mightiest they did.
So, I can finally say, I know how you felt, I feel the same today.
But, I actually have some hope going forward. There will be plenty of time to be upset and opposed to what our new president actually does, I see no need to continue a kind of fearful frenzy now before he even does anything.
What I am hopeful about is Trump himself. I believe he is in a liminal stage, a very formative stage, and I am very willing to be pleasantly surprised by him and his administration.
But what about the terrible things he said during the campaign? imprisoning his opponent? Torturing prisoners? Taking away first amendment rights of the press and his political opponents? Disrespecting women? Mass roundups of immigrants? Trade wars with China? Imposing religious tests on Muslims? etc, etc. These remain scary, but did he mean any of it? What makes anyone think so?
I believe he only said things that got him attention and enthusiastic support on the campaign trail. I think the only thing he paid any attention to was Fox News and right wing radio and media. All he was interested in was to find the hot buttons on the right and say those handful of things over and over again in the simplest and most expressive sentences and tweets.
Donald Trump was, far and away, the most uninformed presidential candidate in my lifetime, and I first started paying attention to presidential politics during the 1964 LBJ vs Goldwater campaign. He never paid any attention to any briefings on the government, the country, or the world. Such briefings were completely uninteresting to him because all he cared about was appealing to and rousing his conservative base, many, perhaps most, of whom got their information only inside the right wing bubble of right wing media. The last thing in the world that Trump wanted was more information that could dilute his blunt messaging and appeal to his base. Any hint of nuance would only dilute the passions of his followers.
But, much to all of our surprise, including his, he won the election. I don't think for a moment that he regrets anything he said because his only objective was to win, so whatever he did or said to win was good, and he won, so in his mind he did everything right. He has no sense of the impact of what he said on anyone in the world, he wasn't interested in what either his voters of opponents thought, all he was doing was upping his ratings, his votes, the enthusiasm of his crowds.
But, now what? As Zelina Zito said, liberals took him literally but conservatives didn't. I hope that is true, and I think it might be.
Now that Trump is going to be president, what is his motivation? Indeed, what is the only thing that is important to Donald Trump? Isn't it the same thing that has been the only thing that has ever been important to Donald Trump? That he be successful? be seen as a winner? Doesn't he want to be a good president? indeed, a great president? the greatest president of all time? I think so.
So, as he finds himself in the office of the presidency he will actually start to learn something about the government, the country, and the world. Won't he discover that the sound bites of conservative dogma don't even come close to reality? Won't he see that so much of his applause getting lines in his speeches to his rallies would only backfire on him and make him a pariah amongst world leaders? Won't he find out he can't start a trade war with China without destroying the American economy and destroying his presidency? And the same for torturing prisoners? or rounding up millions of Latin Americans? or imprisoning his presidential opponent? Etc. etc...
And if he really wants to destroy himself, the stupidest of all things he could do would be to attack the media. It is one thing for Brietbart or Rush Limbaugh to try to convince everyone that the media is in the tank for liberals - after all, all they are doing is attacking the competition and trying to get their followers to pay attention only to them - but it is suicidally stupid for a president to wage war on the mainstream media of America and the world. He would create a counter-attack that no president could withstand.
So, I have reason to hope that during this liminal time, in this time between his election victory and his inauguration, he is much more fluid and formable than his campaign rhetoric suggested.
I am ready for some miracles to happen here, some small, maybe some big.
Indeed, as this intentionally ignorant man comes up against what is actually happening in the country and the world he will actually start to learn things. And maybe, if we are all lucky, he can bring conservatives along with him in his learning process.
It is time for the rigid dogmas on the right to die. On the left too, by the way, and the Dems need to get their heads out of the bubbles of their putrefied dogmas as well. We all need to see the world as it is rather than as presented to us by ossified dogmas of the past - both right and left.
If he doesn't flex, doesn't learn, doesn't change, there is plenty of time to get upset if and when he does terrible things. It is not unlikely that he would be impeached if he tries to go all Mussolini on us.
For now, I am rooting for some miracles.