2017-01-26 – It’s been a great week for Trump supporters—a terrible week for everyone else. Or so it seems. President Trump is “enacting” his campaign promises with frightening speed.
He’s appointed right-wing ideologues, cranks, and incompetent billionaires to his cabinet. He’s ordered the departments of the federal government to begin looking for ways to undermine the Affordable Care Act. He’s directed the Department of Homeland Security to begin to build a wall on the Mexican border and to start excluding Muslim immigrants. He’s ordered recipients of foreign aid to not speak of abortion or forfeit their aid. He’s threatened to send the feds to Chicago to end the carnage here.
Shock and awe.
His threat about Chicago had the establishment here quaking—or should I say “quacking.” Aldermen from one end of the city to the other were yacking about how they would accept help with jobs but not the national guard. Blah. Blah. Blah. And good or bad, the whole thing looks like it’s evaporating. But who knows.
It’s things like this that make me realize that the avalanche of presidential orders we’ve seen this week are not accomplished facts. Trumps orders are opening “asks” in a process of negotiation. He gets credit with the base for shaking things up on “day one” but the work of accomplishing his changes is postponed.
In his mind, this is the way negotiations work. Intimidate. Make your “asks” outrageous. If he doesn’t get pushback—fine. He’s gotten what he wanted. If he has to give a little—or a lot—well, that’s the way negotiations work. He’s the master negotiator, after all. He’ll tell you himself.
Now, I’m not here to sugar coat the things he is doing. They are awful. But they are not done deals. The dealing has only begun. And I’m here to say that Trump himself has given us a roadmap for how to deal with him. We have to negotiate. We have to push back.
At the push-back is starting.
After Trump said that he thought torture was a good and effective tool and he planned to have the United States resume its use, Sen. John McCain said this:
The President can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.
Build a wall and deport millions? A horrible prospect. Easier said than done.
Earlier this week, I wrote a post about Trump’s plan to move our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Before the electronic ink on that post was dry, the plan was off the table. Not my doing. My post expressed ambivalence. But someone was mightily opposed to the move and suddenly it was off the agenda.
One thing I did do (with thousands or millions of others) is protest the repeal of the ACA. Suddenly the Republicans are “discovering” plans. If we keep up the pressure, they may discover more.
Don’t lose heart.
And remember the tenacity of the Tea Party in opposing actual laws. These are executive orders and tweets, not law. And still they did battle. As a minority wing of a minority party. And see what they did. What will happen if the majority stands up.
The original shock and awe brought down Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but it also created chaos, allowing Saddam’s Ba’athists to reassemble—as ISIS.
Orange shock and awe is similarly chaotic. It is meant to intimidate. That’s why crowd numbers are so important to the Orange One. But like the original shock and awe, there’s no plan forward. It’s all a negotiation. And this time the president is not negotiating with foreign forces. He is negotiating with . . . We the People. Alternative facts are bargaining chips. Everything is negotiable.
The sooner we realize this, the sooner we bend the arc of history our way, not his.
This means staying engaged. This means knowing our priorities. We can’t fly off on every tweet. Votes count. Tweets don’t. This means standing up and marching.
We marched all across the country on Saturday. Let’s keep it up. Make sure you elected representatives understand that they need to be on our side in these negotiations.
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Even members of the executive branch are resisting. Here is a list of Twitter handles for rogue agency information. I am following all of them.