A brave new world
More Dogs on Main
February 3, 2017
I can't quite get my head around Trump as president yet. He won, despite the Democrats getting 3 million people to rise from the dead to help Hillary win the popular vote. It was an amazing conspiracy, but apparently the dead people all voted in the wrong states without regard to the Electoral College.
That's exactly the kind of thing the Democrats would do — put together a conspiracy of overwhelming and unimaginable scale and complexity to get 3 million dead people to vote in the wrong states so it didn't matter. Or maybe that didn't actually happen.
I watched the inauguration, which was the biggest gathering of humanity ever recorded as long as you don't look at all the empty space on the national mall. It doesn't matter, but Trump is still fixated on it.
Apparently he can't quite believe he's President, either. He's jumped into the role with enthusiasm, and is issuing a blizzard of Executive Orders showing that he's in charge.
Trapped in an airport? Well, you should have thought about that before being born in Iraq. Not our fault. Planning, consequences and basic compassion aren’t part of the process here.
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He's setting about doing exactly what he campaigned on. That's shocking. Americans are not used to that from our elected officials. We listen to all the wild-eyed campaign promises and cast our votes based on something: Perhaps that something is indigestion, contempt for the other candidate, "If Uncle Lew is for him then I'm against him," general frustration, or hand size.
I don't think people really vote on the basis of careful examination of issues or policy. But the common wisdom is that the victor usually has the good sense and manners to set aside all of the campaign promises and proceed with business as usual, nibbling on a few changes around the edges.
Having a President who is actually doing what he said he would do in the campaign is an entirely new proposition in American politics. I don't know what to make of it. While spewing alternative facts and flat-out falsehoods, Trump has demonstrated a fundamental truthfulness about his intentions. So we get a ban on Muslims from countries without a Trump hotel, a trade war with Mexico, budget-destroying tax cuts and spending increases, and long-standing allies are getting poked in the eye.
Most of what he is doing might turn out to be symbolic. There is the nasty problem of the Constitution getting in the way. Trump can't impose a tariff on Mexican imports. That takes legislation, and while Trump moves at lightning speed, Congress is still Congress. It's not happening anytime soon. The immigration order is caught up in the courts, where the limits of Presidential authority will end up being litigated for years. Meanwhile, only Christians need apply.
It's small comfort to people caught up in the process to know that, after only a few years, their rights may be sorted out in court. There probably was a way to have imposed some variation of his Executive Order that didn't leave thousands of people trapped in airports, or leave people who have been in the U.S. for years with lawfully issued green cards blocked at the borders. I don't like the policy in general, but I really don't like that it was imposed in a manner that created the most chaos possible for the people affected.
Trapped in an airport? Well, you should have thought about that before being born in Iraq. Not our fault. Planning, consequences and basic compassion aren't part of the process here. The approach seems to be blowing things up, and figuring out what to do about it later. Details make bad television.
Nothing has a "normal course of business" about it anymore. The Supreme Court nominee is somebody that any Republican president would have picked, and that no Democratic president would have named. That's how it works. But even that is all bollixed up because of the Republicans' unprecedented decision to prevent Obama from filling the vacancy when Scalia died a year ago.
So qualified or not, the nominee will get caught up in revenge extracted by the Democrats. If Obama can't fill a vacant seat in the last year of his term, maybe Trump can't fill it in the first year of his. Or the second. If they block things long enough, the Supreme Court will die off. Some of them are ancient. Then what?
Whether you are a CEO making billion dollar decisions or a family booking spring break in Cancun, one of the things that differentiates this country from a Banana Republic is a sense that the rules are what the rules are. Things are predictable and consistent. If there are changes to be made, big or small, they get discussed, and there is some warning. There is time to adjust and plan ahead. That concept has gone out the window, and now changes get made with the unpredictability of an earthquake. Details and consequences are just facts that get in the way of our brave new world.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.