I’ve held off on posting about Trump’s presidency, but it’s time to wade into the muck.
If you haven’t seen this yet, there’s a fun video where Brooke Baldwin at CNN sums up Trumps presidency so far:
We’re starting to get a pretty good picture of what kind of President Donald Trump is. For a guy who claims to be a political outsider, Trump has all the markings of your stereotypical scumbag politician. He has it all, the whole package:
- Rampant hypocrisy
- Breaking promises
- Taking credit for accomplishments that aren’t really his
He is on track to being remembered as the worst president in our country’s history. The only thing potentially stopping him from winning that title is that his rancorous personality and political ineptitude actually make him (thankfully!) fairly ineffectual at enacting the worst elements of his policy agenda, at least so far.
The problem, though, is that the people on my side, the Left, the “Liberal Elite,” somehow think Trump’s apparent downward spiral means we’re winning. We’re not.
Trump is winning and we’re losing.
The current moral outrage at Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville will disappear like chaff in the wind by the time the next election rolls around.
In fact, I have a prediction:
Donald Trump will win re-election in 2020 and serve two full terms.
HuffPo has been promising Donald Trump’s imminent resignation. Their headline the other day was “The Descent.” They’re trying to make us believe that somehow some miracle will happen and Trump will disappear. That’s delusional.
The exact same thing that happened during the campaign is happening again. HuffPo told us Hillary Clinton had a 98% chance of winning, which was of course a major contributor to her loss. People voted for other candidates or simply didn’t vote, because they assumed Hillary would win.
The liberal echo-chamber is undermining us. Again. We’re so desperate for hope that we’re not able to confront reality. We’re deluding ourselves, lying to ourselves.
We need to stop being so damn positive. False optimism is killing us. We need a healthy dose of pessimism right now. And we need to focus our attention on the right things.
Understand this: TWEETS ARE NOT NEWS.
Quietly, while the media focuses on his inflammatory tweets, Trump has been a busy beaver signing evil little bills passed by the Republican congress, and make no mistake: bad things are happening in our country under this president, bad things having nothing to do with the alt-right. Here’s just one small example. He signed H.J.Res.38, a bill repealing the Stream Protection Rule, an Obama administration rule that barred the dumping of surface mining waste into streams. This is just one part of Trump’s attack on clean water.
He is stacking up a list of such “accomplishments.” These initiatives will stimulate the economy in the short term, but at great cost to the environment and human health. Besides being morally repugnant, these choices will end up being economically disastrous. Someday, someone is going to have to clean up those streams, and that’s going to cost much more money than we stand to gain by polluting them.
But in the short term the deregulation will boost the economy and that, together with Trump unabashedly taking credit for economic momentum from the Obama years, gives him an economic message to sell to voters. And it’s going to work.
Additionally, Trump has a couple of other genuine accomplishments that progressives aren’t acknowledging, but voters will:
- Illegal immigration from Mexico appears to be way down. This is something even Democrats have said should be a goal.
- Trump’s tough talk on North Korea may actually work. At least it’s something new. Everything we’ve tried before has failed.
And we shouldn’t celebrate the resiliency of the ACA just yet, either. Trump has failed to repeal it so far, but he still has time.
Trump is the troll-in-chief. He says the most maddening things, and he knows what he’s doing. He thrills on frustrating Liberals. His base thrills on it, too. They post on their forums how they love to drink the tears of weeping liberals. And liberals who express their frustration through violence are falling right into Trump’s hands.
We keep underestimating this dude. We haven’t grasped that his power lies in his appeal to the national id. We don’t know how to counter that. We haven’t yet learned how to fight Trump. Whenever we think we’re outsmarting him, he is outsmarting us. Whenever it looks like we have him on his knees, ready to submit, he’s actually planting a grenade in our back pocket.
Donald Trump’s presidency is a disaster. The harm being caused is immense. But we’re not close to stopping him. America is losing, but Trump is winning.
How do we turn it around?
Democrats need new blood. We need new leadership, new voices. We need someone like Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn, who can make a strong case for an investment-economy. But this economic message needs to be matched with a political message of non-violence, humility, and love. Like MLK or Gandhi. Also add grace and humor.
And don’t even mention Trump’s name. You don’t have to attack Trump. Everybody already knows Trump is a blowhard, a liar, a jerk, an ignoramus, a racist, a fascist, and so on. Even Trump’s most ardent supporters kind-of know it. Trump wins when the story is about Trump, even if it seems like a negative story.
Make the story a positive one, about a new political movement based upon love. Refuse to talk about Trump.
But what about when Trump insults you with one of his famous tweets?
How you respond is of utmost important. If you get hot under the collar, if you let Trump ruffle your feathers, if you become hateful to match his hatefulness, if you get ugly to match his ugliness, you’ve played right into his hands. Trump doesn’t care if people think he’s a petty a**hole as long as he can get his opponents to look like petty a**holes, too. He’s a born mud-wrestler, and he knows if he can turn a contest into mud-wrestling match, he’ll win. He knows when to go on the assault, when to play the victim, when to feign moral outrage, when to be a lovable rogue, when to boast about his intelligence, when to play dumb. You can’t win that fight.
But you also can’t ignore it. If you refuse to answer you let Trump define you.
Whether you like it or not, a nasty Trump tweet about you will become the story of the day. If your response is boring, Trump’s tweet will get the attention rather than your response, and you’ll lose. Your job is to make your response the better story.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but I think it would work: When Trump insults you, hold a big press conference, and smile and admit all the ways that those insults might be right, and then say, with genuine humility, what you’re doing to try to improve yourself. Don’t insult him back. It’s a disarming technique that is supremely humble, and yet keeps the spotlight on you rather than transferring it back to Trump. Turn Trump’s nasty tweets into little gifts. Respond to every one, in person, on camera, telling jokes and being self-deprecating. Don’t be bitter. Use them as chances to speak from your heart about your policy agenda and how it will help people.
Joe Biden could pull it off.