Nothing signifies the degradation of American governance more than when politics is no longer about the art of constructive compromise but rationalizing corrupt and bizarre behavior. Sorry if I'm just stating the obvious but the particular event I am referring was last Sunday's edition of the NBC's, Meet The Press. It was during the panel discussion phase of the show that two individuals, a lady from the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, and one of the editors from the equally delusional conservative magazine, National Review, twisted themselves into a hyper-dimensional pretzels to explain away Trump's petulant and curiously manic behavior.
Surreal is an overused word for me but that is exactly the feeling I had watching those two on television trying to sound like rational and reasonable adults explaining that Trump's childish and vindictive behavior was essentially going to be the new normal of American life. Making matters far worse, just five minutes before Trump's weasel-like chief of staff was on the same show complaining that President Obama should use his influence to get Democrats, both elected officials and those in the general public, to respect the incoming chief executive. This coming from a man who ran the Republican party while members of that organization regularly questioned every aspect of President Obama's life from his birthplace, to his patriotism, and even his family. It really defies common sense that for someone whose supporters bills Trump as a “man of action” that they would have to resort to whining about the outgoing president needing to make the Democrats play nice because their feelings are on the verge of getting hurt.
Well, that was six days ago and now Trump has taken the oath of office. From here there is every reason to believe things are going to get even weirder than what went on between the election in November and yesterday. As much as Trump's supporters moan with delight when he talks about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), or putting tariffs on imported goods, or building a wall along the southern border there will be nasty repercussions to these actions whose effects could easily spiral out of control.
The thing that absolutely sends me into episodes of bewilderment over the collective mental health of this country is that Trump supporters will never admit to the fact when more than likely his populist campaign promises blow up in their faces. Since congressional Republicans do not appear to have a workable alternative ACA, when it is dismantled poor people will no longer have access to health care. That means people will die, pure and simple. Further complicating the issue, folks with ACA coverage that once would have been able to see a doctor will now just go to the local hospital emergency room after their health care becomes a victim of political machinations. This means a massive drop off in decent medical care ultimately causing some conditions to worsen resulting in even more costs later that local hospitals will have to eat and pass down to those who still have coverage.
Erecting tariffs on imported goods will cause other countries to do the same to the companies here in the United States that export products and employ over forty million American workers. This is not rocket science, saying “America First” is all fine and good to rile up the semi-educated masses but Trump's personality will not prevent other countries from responding in kind to his actions. Analogies are often clumsy and too abstract for some people but for better or worse global economics is very much like a spider's web. You start ripping at on piece, it will not take much to destroy the whole thing with the result being disastrous.
As for Trump's Wall, well he has already tweeted that taxpayers will be paying for it with his promise Mexico will reimburse us later. If only his supporters would hold their breath on that one a huge problem would be solved after about six minutes. That was mean, but after some considerable thought I find myself coming to a uneasy agreement with some political philosophers that say voting might need to be restricted to people that can pass tests on such things as knowledge of basic government, current events, world affairs, and even history. Yes, there is a terrible history of oppression here in the United States with literacy tests being used to prevent African-Americans from voting. The problem here in the twenty-first century though is that you have Southern rednecks that worry a wall might have to be built along the NORTHERN border with Canada since their immigration policy is so liberal by allowing all those dangerous terrorist types to become citizens. I could give other examples of the idiocy running rampant these days but it should be more than apparent to anyone with a working brain. On a brief, bipartisan side note, yes there are those on the left who more than qualify for membership in the too dumb to vote club.
It was the great talk show host, Phil Donahue who once committed that the United States was edging towards a nervous breakdown twenty or so years ago as America was convulsed by some media scandal. I think it was the episode that involved a second rate female ice skater having her better rival hurt so the former's path would be cleared to join the Olympic team that year. We seem to have left nervous breakdown in the rear view mirror and have gone over the cliff of a nationwide psychotic break with reality.
A certain segment of the American population say they want nothing more than returning to strict interpretation of the United States Constitution. That's all fine but the United States we live in today is not the one the Founding Fathers established. The country is infinitely more complex and the world is a lot smaller and crowded making those fantasies of simpler times a dangerous delusion. But occupying the White House as of yesterday is an individual who is nothing but an image puffed up by clever marketing. True, he is rich but not by developing some new revolutionary product or by creating an entirely new industry. Trump inherited a nice chunk of change and contacts from his father and went on to bankrupt his businesses numerous times. Trump's true talents is to sell his image and package a message that appeals to the worst aspects of a population not educated enough to have even a basic comprehension of the world they live. Yes, they are hurting because of the effects of global economics but instead of adapting to the changes they sit around and blame those easily cast as scapegoats.
In my opinion the most dangerous aspect of Trump occupying the White House is how he plans on essentially dismantling the current international security arrangements. Vlad Putin, while being a murderous thug, is not a stupid man. He will play Trump as the fool he is for as long as possible. History has shown that when the existing international security system is destroyed, or in this case discarded, the vacuum in power will be filled by factions that always sow violence in their wake.
What does that have to do with Americans? The answer to that question is disgustingly simple but yet beyond the comprehension of many. The United States is not some lone, metaphorical island like it was for most of its history. We are tied to the other nations of the planet in ways unparalleled in human history. Call it an empire but even though America's role in the world is dangerously flawed in many ways it has allowed a period of growth and overall peace that is rare. Yes, that growth hasn't been shared with the majority of the populations in both the United States and the world. But the at least liberal democracies have a far better chance for reform than authoritarian countries where things like freedom of speech is heavily curtailed.
What worries me the most is that here in the United States with our politics now about image and rationalizing what would have once been totally unacceptable behavior dealing with issues is done from a narrow dogmatic viewpoint. A trait that do not lend itself to facing threats and even opportunities as the world continues to change. So, in a weird way I actually see a chance that Trump could ultimately produce millions of decent paying jobs that involve complex technical skills. These jobs would be in the armed forces as the United States is forced to fight to save the values that have done so much for the world.