As Donald Trump heads out on his first trip abroad, not surprisingly to bow before the silk robes of the Saudi Arabians, the world’s unquestioned premier sponsor of global terrorism, he leaves a capital city in writhing turmoil. Washington D.C. has not been in such a state of confusion and disarray since British troops with torches were marching through it. The man the American people elected to occupy the White House has made an incalculable hash of the job, even prompting the nation’s best allies to question sharing intelligence information with a president who clearly has none and would not know what to do with it if he did. Calls for his impeachment are wishful thinking for some, but divorced from reality and that’s a good thing.
But wait, you may well ask, what of the damage the Trump slow-motion train wreck is doing to the country and its institutions? Yes, that is a worthy and valid consideration, but prematurely removing Trump would simply be giving aspirin to treat the country’s headache but would not do anything to cure the real illness which has plagued the nation since 1980- the Reagan agenda.
The essential consideration is this fiasco is understanding what so many Americans had anticipated Trump would do- “drain the swamp” being at the top of the list. For many, he somehow presented himself as a quasi-Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith who would go to Washington and clean house. Nothing, of course, could have been farther from the reality as from the very outset Trump dove right into that swamp and has cavorted gleefully with its most slimy inhabitants. His administration has been a boon to the very rapacious multinational corporations that drove the economy to the very brink of meltdown just nine short years ago as regulations and protections have fallen in key markets and arenas from banking to energy extraction- and most damaging of all- in the dark sinkhole referred to as the “defense industry.” And for “the little guy?” Not just nothing, but far worse as all of the forces that have driven down incomes and buying power are now even more emboldened and empowered to continue their devastating, scorched Earth campaign to pick all the remaining meat from the bones of the American worker.
The essential point is that none of this has anything with Trump himself. He has no better understanding of economics or public policy than a child, which is really what he is. Trump has simply opened the doors for the Republican Party to reach its own logical conclusion- a return to the 19th Century when industry, and industry titans, ran society free from interference from unions or regulation and where charity was the work of churches and families, not government programs. Molded in the Gilded Age of the 1980’s, Trump is just along for that ride.
But equally important is to appreciate the other side of the Trump coin- racism, or as it’s more commonly known, “political correctness.” One of the keys to Ronald Reagan’s successful messaging was to moan about government’s role in protecting “welfare queens” and those who engaged in “deviant” behaviors and lifestyles. Since the 1960’s, a vast swath of the American people chaffed at “affirmative action” and being told not just who they had to hire but what was and was not acceptable language. Finger wagging identity politics have played an essential role in the Democratic Party’s challenges with voters and understanding this. So too has the grotesque and indefensible excesses of primarily public sector unions, soaring pension liabilities choking state budgets and the myriad woes of public education, again largely due to teachers unions which has given rise to the hodgepodge of charter and other school alternatives. Taking these core issues on directly will be essential to Democrats winning back particularly low-income voters- even in the face of the smoldering Trump disaster.
All of this is why the nation would not be served by aborting the Trump presidency. Were he to be removed, all parties could simply shrug and blame all of the nation’s problems on the hapless, narcissistic, property developer who backed his way into the White House and almost instantly crashed and burned. Republicans would dogpile to disavow him and forever consider him the Bill Buckner of their party- the guy who let the ground ball roll between his feet. Democrats and “the left” would be unable to pin the catastrophe the Republican Agenda brought upon the American people which is where it belongs. The country would quickly move on from the Trump bellyflop and it would be back to politics as usual and that’s the worst of all possible outcomes.