Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The path forward under a Trump Administration

2016 is the fourth time I've lived through this, and it's worse than the previous three. 1994 was Gingrich, 2000 was Bush, 2004 was Bush again. The deepest pain for me is the Supreme Court vacancy. That was our best path to a big advantage. Losing it is tremendously bad.

I'll offer optimism, because I'm your optimism guy. 2004 seemed like the worst -- unified Republican control under President Bush. But he didn't manage to do much new original damage apart from Supreme Court appointments. Nancy Pelosi shut down Social Security Privatization in the House when the Republican majority couldn't agree around a plan, and they couldn't pass it without Democratic votes which sweet Nancy made sure they didn't get. Bush gave up on a legislative agenda, and the worst we got was continuation of the terrible policies we had, including enormous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that make Libya and US Syria involvement look trivial -- plus economic mismanagement that led to the financial crisis. Obviously, really bad. But Bush didn't manage to initiate new hell.

Democrats held on, played defense, and won big in 2006 and 2008. House and Senate Democrats are way more functional than they were in the bad old days when Gephardt and Lieberman were supporting Bush's Iraq War Resolution. Schumer can get Wall Street money to fund Senate challengers (we didn't want to rely on this goddamned source of support, but the markets are crashing on Trump news). Pelosi does it because she's pure of heart.

So a possible scenario is for internal dysfunction between Trump and Congressional Republicans (combined with stalwart opposition from Pelosi and Senate Democrats) to prevent anything from really going forward. I didn't expect us to need to play the defensive filibuster game, but that's what it looks like we might have to do. I'd probably expect Republicans to get rid of the filibuster entirely for anyone else, but maybe not for Trump? I hope. We've pulled victory out of the elephant poop of past defeat a couple times before. Let's hope Pelosi and goddamned Schumer can do it again.

Certainly, the big worry is that Republicans fuse themselves to a crazy Trump agenda and there's no stopping it and everything goes to hell. That... could happen. But if there's enough internal conflict in the party to make things not work smoothly, as happened in much more subtle ways in 2004, we could get Trump-as-failure for the 2018 and 2020 cycles. After all, Trump is made to screw stuff up. Maybe his disaffected white working class supporters get the "actually, this sucks" message and don't support Republicans so well in 2018 and 2020 while our folks do their thing. Control redistricting in the 2020-2022 cycle, and you can take the House again. And then you can pass all kinds of progressive legislation, especially after this year's Senate misfortunes get flushed out in 2022.
As I said, I'm your optimism guy. Be well, and keep safe. We're going to need you.