The reality of the Trump presidency has now found a home in the national consciousness. The demonstrations and shouts and screams from the disappointed, the disaffected and the newly awakened will continue, but the reality remains – Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. And there is another reality – Trump and his Republican enablers have now become the dogs that caught the bus.
For the past few decades, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has invested enormous amounts of time and money articulating a vision of America which might or might not be dystopian, depending on one’s point of view. But there is no doubt that this right wing vision is remarkably different from the America in which we have lived for the past half century.
Reduction in the role of government makes for a great sound bite until that sound bite bites back. Reduction in the role of government means less – a lot less – than what most Americans are used to. Less healthcare, less oversight of food, drugs and industrial chemicals. Less control over environmental factors and fewer stated rights for the underserved and those have been historically marginalized.
At one point in time the concept of privatizing Social Security or Medicare seemed as extreme as……privatizing the prison system. But just ask the executives at CoreCivic – formerly the Corrections Corporation of America – how business is these days, and they will tell you just fine. And similarly, there are healthcare companies and financial services institutions that cannot wait for the bonanza that would appear if Social Security or Medicare are privatized.
This change in the political environment did not begin on November 8, 2016 – indeed Trump’s victory and the Republican hegemony over the Executive and Legislative branches of government are the harvest of years of laboring in the political vineyards of America. While liberals and progressives lapsed into complacency or internecine battles over arranging the deckchairs on their personal Titanic, the conservatives have spent decades registering their voters, gerrymandering their districts, suppressing the opposition votes and seizing or greasing the levers of power to their advantage.
No one factor is responsible for the outrageous incarnation of pride, bigotry and bombast that the Trump presidency. But a bit of close analysis and introspection will reveal that this conservative cloud has been looming over the horizon for decades. And now, millions of Americans are discovering that elections do matter, that politics is not an affair of the heart but a condition of the mind and that winning is important.
The first round of Trump appointees, nominees and Executive Orders predict a type of chaos not seen in the Oval Office since the days of Andrew Jackson. Chaos is rarely good for the economy. Chaos is always bad for the poor and the marginalized segments of our body politic. But chaos is where the financial and political predators live – it is their native environment.
We will now have to see if the self-identified progressive Americans can find a way to be strategic, committed, focused and determined to win back this country. Taking America Back Again may be the new rallying cry that is shouted across this nation.