For Now, Trump Is King Of The Hill
How an unchecked exercise of power and trolling leads to untenable positions.
I think I finally have a clear picture of how Trump and his supporters see themselves. They understand that their power is temporary, so they’re going to do as much as they can while they can. They’re installing right-wing conservative judges in the federal courts as fast as they can. They got two supreme court judges in one term, and they’re waiting with bated breath for Ruth Bader Ginsberg to “expire”. Mitch McConnell in a bath of hypocrisy says that if there is a vacancy, “we’ll fill it.”
The Trump administration rolled back regulations intended to preserve the environment, and then Trump himself talks about how that will free up the economy. So we’re trading the environment for money now? Money has no value if you have no place to live without pollution. Try breathing money.
When they roll back financial regulations, fire an inspector general, or when they defy a subpoena from Congress, here is the message I get from them: “absolute immunity”. No oversight from the other branches of government, understand? No checks and balances. No adult supervision.
I have also learned that prior to the pandemic, the Trump Administration had removed the agency responsible for planning for a pandemic like it was never going to happen. They did not stockpile supplies or equipment for that eventuality. When the pandemic hit our shores, Trump acted like the coronavirus wasn’t a problem. Instead, Trump focused on impeachment rather than a disease that has now taken 88,000 lives. Starting in January, Trump spent six weeks doing something else. Maybe he was praying. Maybe he was hoping it would go away. But it’s here today.
I have wondered how we got here. I know how we got here. An article in Politico Magazine explains it very well, “What Liberals Don’t Get About Trump Supporters and Pop Culture”, and the subtitle, “The seemingly bizarre pop culture takes emanating from MAGA world are just reflections of its core philosophy.” What is their philosophy? Here is the nugget in the article:
The real explanation is much simpler and more believable: When (Brad) Parscale (Trump’s 2020 campaign manager) and his ilk approvingly identify themselves with pre-redemption Darth Vader, or Thanos, or even Dr. Evil, they surely understand those characters’ morality perfectly well. It’s not so much that Trump, et. al actively identify as “villains,” but that the behavior that makes one a “villain” in fiction — deceit, wanton rule-breaking, a willful disregard for collateral damage — is, in real life, more likely to get one branded a “winner,” provided one plays their cards right. Enron executives? Elizabeth Holmes? The steroid-juicing baseball heroes of the 1990s? Winners all — at least until they got caught.(emphasis mine)
This is what I see in the Trump Administration, and Trump in particular. They believe they are fighting the good fight, sure. They believe that ultimately, they will prevail and show us that we’ll be OK under their leadership. But they really don’t get the part about checks on power, and that their constituency extends beyond their base of supporters.
Trump is a bully. I’ve seen him play the part. You want my tax returns? Watch the majority on the Supreme Court take you down. Neener, neener, neener! You want to take down Brett Kavanaugh? I still got him seated! Haha! You want to impeach me for my perfect conversation with a president from a third world country? Watch my Senate majority take you down. Pthhhhhhh! You want a fair election in 2020? Notice how I paralyzed the Federal Election Commission by leaving it without enough members on the commission for a quorum. Snicker!
It’s been like this for more than 3 years. On and on the teasing, the trolling, the insults, and the vendettas. It’s all fun and games until there is a shift in power, and there will be a shift in power. This is a certainty. It’s just a matter of time. How much time?
Trump’s prospects for reelection are looking better these days. Presumptive nominee Joe Biden, potentially the worst presidential candidate since Hillary Clinton, has shown remarkable difficulty in uttering coherent thoughts. “I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.” Or try this supremely premature comment about pardoning Trump: “Absolutely, yes. I commit. It’s hands-off completely. Look, the attorney general of the United States is not the president’s lawyer. It’s the people’s lawyer.” The Trump campaign has been compiling all of the best Biden gaffes and they’re putting them on YouTube. I can totally see another four years of Trump with Biden as the nominee. I only need to look at the stats at Real Clear Politics to watch Biden’s lead slowly evaporate. Better than Trump, huh?
Trump is not just the king of the hill. He’s the king of bad news. During Trump’s campaign in 2016, I watched him deftly overcome every bad video, every awful recording of dirt dug up about his past. He blew off stuff that would be fatal to normal politicians. He still won the nomination. No matter how hard the “liberal media” tried to take Trump down with bad news, unflattering comments, even potential mob associations, Trump’s base of support still supports him. He still won in 2016 and Trump’s campaign will survive the pandemic. A low voter turnout will ensure that he wins the election.
For now, Trump is unchecked in his exercise of power. For now, he can defy all investigations, fire inspector generals willy nilly, and give the left the finger with enthusiasm every day and every night. A candidate like Biden will ensure that Trump remains unchecked.
Fortunately, we have term limits, and Trump is a once in a generation president. I doubt there will be another president like Trump for at least a generation. Maybe two. I also think that Trump will cost the GOP at least a generation of voters. Why?
For a man who says that he wants to unify the country, he is a very divisive leader. I see that in his choices for judges, especially for the Supreme Court. I also see it in the way the government has been handling the economy. For example, where the poor have been treated to means-tested gifts of free money, the Federal Reserve has been buying up bad investments made by the rich. Wall Street is doing great! The Fed has become a backstop to save the rich from the damage of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the poor are waiting for hours in food bank lines.
The behavior exhibited by the current administration is not sustainable and the GOP has noticed. That’s why the priority in the Senate, save for a few pandemic relief bills, has been so laser-focused on the courts. They are focused on where they can maintain the longest entrenchment of their power: lifetime appointments of unelected bureaucrats to the bench.
Those judges can only rule upon the evidence before them. They must observe stare decisis, and they will do so as long as it suits them. As the country becomes a bit browner, and the younger generations figure out what was left to them by the previous generations since Ronald Reagan, they will take up positions of power at odds with the current power structure. They will learn just how rigged the economy is. They will learn that they can put judges in a position that requires them to justify their rulings based on the arguments and evidence before them.
I see a day in the not too distant future when those slim gerrymandered majorities that the GOP enjoys now, will turn into big deficits. I see a day when a liberal majority in the Senate provides a meaningful check on the power of a GOP president and the judges appointed by him.
I see a day where the young people of today realize that it’s their turn to exercise power. I see a day where the executive branch of government must accept oversight by the other two branches. I see a day where both parties admit that they may have gone too far rigging the economy for their friends in high places. I see a day when saner minds prevail. I see a day when The People can exercise a check on power that the wealthy must accept.