Night of the Living Trumps


Originally published in New Ground 169, November — December, 2016.

by Bob Roman

I missed the slow agony of election night, having gone to bed early, but arose in the wee hours from an uneasy sleep. Coffee! And the first thing I hear from the nattering pundits on the BBC is, “President Trump.” Say again? They did. It was a deep dismay yet not much of a surprise. After all, the Cubs had won the World Series. Clearly it was a very… seriously… cold season in Hell and demons are loose upon the land.

I had been joking that Trump would win. It was inspired by a spooky memory of a science fiction novel, title and author forgotten, that used a scenario out of Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End: The orderly and irresistible end of the human species by an alien power, but in this account, in the final World Series a few months before the end, the Cubs are allowed to win.

A geezer I am. I have lived through Nixon, Reagan and Dubya. Should I mention LBJ? One might think of this as yet another spell of really bad weather and verily the sun also rises. But there is a stink of existential threat from Trump that hasn’t been so strong in the air since Nixon.

Part of it is Trump’s so nakedly disordered personality. Nearly everyone who aspires to be President is likely to be a bit insane, but until now most have been able to simulate normality. Part of it is the enthusiastic bigotry used to motivate Trump’s electorate; there’s no putting that back in the bottle while Trump holds office and the Republican caucuses control the legislature. Part of it is the solid wall of chaotic uncertainty about just what a governing Trump actually means in terms of policy.

President Trump is not totally unknowable, of course. We can expect a proactively hostile labor policy rather like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker. (Worst case: Chile’s labor movement survived Pinochet but not by much.) And to the extent it can be accomplished administratively (and that’s a lot), we can expect a full-throated and nearly immediate gutting of environmental, consumer, civil rights, occupational health protections. It may be a very bad time to be an undocumented migrant. We may see an end to the filibuster in the Senate, a very bad and a very good thing indeed.

Beyond that, the Congress was intended to function largely by consensus. How much of a spine will the Democratic caucuses display? Will the Republican caucuses remain united? What of the economy? And what will be the implications of the continued devolution of what passes for political parties in the U.S.? Will the left (including DSA) fight back, fight forward, or fight each other? Are there enough question marks to continue discussing a Trump Presidency?

Remember: That which doesn’t kill you… doesn’t kill you.

off our backs?
John Jonik

Author: rmichaelroman

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