My advice for Liberals after the first week of President Trump: I think it’s time to lay off the pressure a bit. Dial down the hysteria. It’s time to see how things play out. I know these statements seem strange for people who know me. But I think this is the best way to simultaneously battle against Trump and set the stage for 2018 elections.
Let’s take Trump’s Great Wall (TGW) for starters. He promised in the campaign to build the wall. He promised Mexico was going to pay for it. He’s starting the process of getting construction under way. Now is the time when the country says to him, okay we are calling your bluff. Show us this wall and how you get Mexico to pay. Trying to prevent construction hurts Liberals by making them look like obstructionists – the very thing that Liberals despised Conservatives for being for the past decade or so. Also, how great will the optics of a partially built wall be? Spray paint a big T-R-U-M-P across it to drive the point home. And the Facebook viral posting of that will be fantastic. Imagine the brand damage that would do.
And how is TGW going to be funded now? By USA’s funds, of course, as it always was. So Liberals don’t need to attack the wall. Just be sure to make clear in Congress where the money is coming from. Vote against funding it, of course. But no need for histrionics. Let the votes fall where they may and when the 2018 election rolls around, be sure to make public who voted for TGW and how the money spent on the wall is definitely not counted in Pesos.
(Side note: the only Republican against the wall is the one from the district. This supports my thesis that Republicans are against things until they have some reason to learn the reasons and then can support them. Just in this case, the against/support function is reversed.)
Another good example is the voter fraud accusations. I think Liberals should support him on this. Everyone should be against voter fraud. And I believe Liberals in Congress should be happy to investigate these claims. We all know them to be false, of course. (Nicely done, Jake Tapper.) But since Trump keeps going to that claim about all the voter fraud, let’s call his bluff on this too. Okay, let’s investigate. Let’s dig into voter fraud. Again, the benefit to doing so is twofold. Not only do the Liberals look like the party that wants to be honest and get it right, but also it will prove that Clinton won the popular vote and that Trump lost. Again, imagine the reaction when the study only finds two guys in LA and one of them claims he voted for Trump twice. And again, the brand damage would be significant and Trump keeps teeing up this opportunity.
Regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”), I’m not convinced that the Conservatives will succeed in “Repeal and Replace”. They may call it that, but fundamentally, I don’t expect much change. In fact, I think it will largely stay the same. They are at least smart enough to recognize that it actually is a good thing. (Not a “disaster“!) It’s likely that the Republicans will make changes so that the government doesn’t force anybody to get insurance. That seems to be their main complaint with the ACA. And of course, it is one of the core principals of the ACA – everybody covered means no issues for preexisting conditions and insurance only works when you insure more than just the people at risk. I think the Republicans are going to try to have their cake and eat it too. I think they are going to claim to remove the individual mandate but replace it with something that is effectively the same but will be easier to market. I.e. we’re not making you get insurance, but we are going to give you a tax break if you do. Which is effectively the same result as it is now, only the language is different. (Also, therefore lowering taxes for everybody, but we know Republicans like to do that even when there is no logic in doing so.)
Democrats in Congress should go along with these changes. As President Obama himself said, if somebody has a plan for how to improve the ACA, he wanted to be the first to hear it. So if the Republicans come up with a plan that makes them happy and, this is important, doesn’t break the whole thing, then go for it. Of course at the same time, Democrats have to be sure to hold Republicans accountable for proposing changes that would break the whole thing. Go on record with specifics like “simply removing the individual mandate means that the system will become insolvent”. Then let the Republicans fight among themselves to sort out the details. The net result is either the ACA is actually improved or the country will ask the Democrats to fix what the Republicans broke by making sure Trump is a one term president. Either way, the Democrats win.
Of course while all this is going on, Democrats should continue to fight for bills to block conflicts of interest with the President and his businesses. Democrats should ensure that any justices that are nominated are scrutinized in the same way Republicans battled Obama’s nominations. And anything that Trump does really wrong needs to be called out. So I’m not saying that Democrats need to go away and hide for 4 years. But I think Democrats in Congress and Liberals everywhere need to be smart about how to fight and what to fight about. Save the most public battles for things that can be won or things that end up damaging the Trump and/or Republican brand or things that show people that Liberals are the true party of the people, regardless of what Republicans say.
I have long said that the problem with American politics is the American mindset of us vs. them. Of two teams battling for supremacy. How similar American politics is to American football where when both teams are evenly matched, all you get is a bunch of people running into each other and ending up in a pile on the ground. Only once in a while is any progress made when one team breaks through the morass. I don’t like that reality because I’d rather not have teams at all but a discussion from all individuals on the proverbial field and have everyone listen and form their own opinions. But clearly that’s fancifully naive. The reality is the two-team-morass and effectively what I’m proposing is to let the Republicans run with the ball for a while. My supposition is that the Republicans will end up failing to score and that they will be exposed for the fools that they are. At the very least, it’s time to fight fire with fire, but do it in a Progressive Liberal smart way. And not just reflexively respond to Republicans in the same gutter they are battling from now and not in the same academic superiority way that Liberals have in the past.