The bugger won.
I'm not as surprised as many, but I can't say I really expected Trump to win. I had thought that his odious and repulsive character would prove just too much. It does, in truth, scare me that so many people listened to every pussy-grabbing, daughter-fucking, race-baiting turdlet that issued from that man's mouth and still voted for him.
I usually quote John Michael Greer with respect and admiration, but here --
I would be just as likely to vote for a surly misanthrope who loathes children, kicks puppies, and has deviant sexual cravings involving household appliances and mayonnaise, if that person supports the policies I want on the issues that matter to me. It really is that simple.
-- I'm quite taken aback. I get his point: the President is one person, a figurehead, really, and it's the government (s)he heads that actually gets stuff done, or not. What's more, the President only heads the executive branch of the government. Canadian Prime Ministers, at least domestically, have a great deal more power than U.S. Presidents do.
But personality MATTERS. At least to me, it does. The office of President of the United States is invested, or at least it ought to be, with a certain dignity, a certain gravitas. Clinton, whatever her failings (and she has a boatload), at least struck me as serious. Donald Trump, for all I could tell, treated the entire campaign like a dirty joke. Or rather, a repugnant series of them: racist, misogynistic, homophobic and ableist jokes that don't belong anywhere in this millennium.
The President may be one person, but on the domestic and world stage, in a very real sense, that person is the United States of America. That this one person should, as of January, be Donald Trump...well, I find that profoundly disturbing.
Let's talk policy for a minute. I know it's in vogue to suggest that Trump voiced no policies beyond mindless hate...but that's not actually the case. There are three things in particular that Trump was consistent on, and which he will almost certainly at least attempt to follow through on.
His foreign policy, as I noted a few blogs ago, comprises a conciliatory tone towards Russia, especially its involvement in Syria; what certainly seems to be overt hostility towards China, and flexing of military muscle against Daesh.
Now, I can't say as I agree with any of this. If I had to pick, I'd take Obama's approach, which downplays American exceptionalism in public (while hypocritically keeping on with the little games behind the scenes). But Trump's muscular tone is traditional Republicanism with a few wrinkles. It's not apocalyptic, whatever his detractors might think. Trump's admiration of Putin echoes George W. Bush's--I still remember back in 2001, Dubya saying he peered into Putin's eyes and saw his soul. (He also said Putin was straightforward and trustworthy...ahem...)
I'm thinking Trump's handlers will set him straight on China. The U.S. can't afford to antagonize Beijing overmuch, and most people know it. Economically or militarily -- the latter is very much linked to the former -- it would be a mistake to goad China into anything rash.
ISIS? Is a fading power right now, thanks largely to Russia. I have little doubt some new bogeyman will supplant them, the way they supplanted al-Qaeda. The Middle East is a quagmire and if I had my druthers I'd just wall it all off and let them nuke it out, excuse me, duke it out. Since that's not an option, and none of the options that have been tried in the last seventy years have accomplished a whole hell of a lot..I'm sorry, folks. I wash my hands of it.
Trump has suggested that his foreign policy will be transactional--a "you scratch, I scratch" sort of thing. This strikes me as at least provisionally sensible. Whether or not it actually plays out that way...is anyone's guess. But I don't think it's worth getting scared of.
Pence, on the other hand... you think Trump is scary? Pence terrifies me. He's as fundamentalist as they come, the sort of man who believes it's his sacred duty to do whatever he can to bring about the Second Coming. Let's pray to whatever we all pray to that Trump doesn't get bored, or sulk off and quit when he finds out he can't just do whatever he wants.
Trump has promised to rip up NAFTA and reverse U.S. governmental policy that tacitly encouraged the offshoring of jobs and the evisceration of the wage class. I'm not exactly sure how he plans to accomplish this. The world economy is bigger than Trump is by many orders of magnitude. But even discussing this topic has been off the table for the last thirty years at least. This, more than anything else, is why Trump was elected. The Democrats have always talked a good game about helping the working class...but they don't walk their talk, and the working class has had enough of being talked down to.
It's worth noting that the Republican Party itself has been no better, and in many respects worse, for the average working stiff--and that, too, explains Trump. Many qualified, business-as-usual Republicans entered the primaries. Trump alone emerged. Business as usual no longer cuts it. And Trump better remember that...because his supporters sure do.
Nobody really believes that Trump is going to build a wall, much less make Mexico pay for it. Nobody really believes that Trump is going to start mass deportations of Muslims. The U.S. is not designed for such mass delusion to be easily implemented, even given the recent Presidential fashion of governing by executive order.
But you CAN expect much more attention to be paid to the southern border, and immigration in general. Pace the Left, this is not, in and of itself, a horrible thing. It should be possible to have a reasoned discussion on the merits and demerits of immigration and cultural assimilation without one side, mine, instinctively screaming "you racist xenophobic son of a bitch". SHOULD be.
I am much more concerned with the fact the Republicans are back in power, to be honest, and with a renewed mandate. Trump himself is no Republican, although he quite convincingly played one at times during the campaign. And the Republican machine has been ronking pretty good of late, beginning with that wild Tea Party....but presently they're bound to notice they have power again and can move
Which includes the Supreme Court. That worries me. That worries me a lot. Because the Supreme Court, steered by a conservative majority, will impact the U.S. long after Trump is gone. Driven by a party that has more than its share of gay haters (Pence is on record as saying he supports "conversion therapy", for fuck's sake) and woman haters....poor haters...really, the GOP's only got your back if you're moneyed. Or a fetus. They love fetuses.
Greer suggests in this week's essay that the United States is and always has been a country of many nations, and those nations have diverse and often divergent moral codes. Oklahoma, he says, will never accept the mores of Massachusetts, or vice versa. He favours a federal government that sticks to things like national defence and ensuring equality under the law. Small problem with that last: a majority of people in Oklahoma and other states don't want "equality under the law"...not when it comes to certain minorities, at any rate.
I don't know what's in store any more than the rest of you do. I doubt Trump does, either. It's going to be interesting, mighty interesting. But I am a consensus builder, determined to find the positive in the darkest of situations. This situation is plenty dark. But not, I don't think, quite as dark as some people are suggesting.
I hope not.