The Times Ahead


We’re a handful of days into 2017 now, and in less than three weeks, Donald Trump will be our president. I’d like to recommend at this point that we in Generation X stop trying to revive things that were popular in the 1980s.

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And please, let’s stage an intervention before Shia LeBeouf tries to act again.

Not all of us are pleased at Trump coming into office. His rise to power has invited comments from people like me, comparing him with Mussolini, and others, who have somewhat less historical perspective, comparing him with Hitler.

People are scared of the future, and scared of what Trump might do. So I thought I’d take some time to dash some sanity into all of this and hopefully calm us all down a bit so that we can focus on what matters.

War

Yes, Trump will almost certainly get us into a war. It won’t be with Russia (more about them later), and will probably be in the Middle East. Unlike W, I don’t expect Trump will even give lip service to the idea that we’re not at war with Islam. Quite the contrary; I expect he’ll embrace the concept.

Now I don’t think we’re going to end up in a nuclear war (though this is more plausible than it has been in a while, but still very unlikely). Trump has been quite cavalier in his attitude toward nuclear weapons, but the use of one requires the agreement of the Secretary of Defense, who likely would say, “Oh, hell naw!”

SCOTUS

The Supreme Court is going to have a conservative to replace Scalia, since the Republicans did an excellent job of stealing that nomination from Obama. So we know that we’re likely to have the status quo which, let me remind you, gave us gay marriage and Obamacare.

The real question here is what happens if Ginsberg or one of the other more liberal justices either steps aside or dies? Then we end up with a balance tipped toward the conservatives for a while. How long? Who can say? Much then depends on what happens in 2020. But either way, I don’t expect much to change in the court.

Russia

Trump loves Putin. I expect him to raise exactly zero fingers to stop anything that Putin tries to do, short of invading Western Europe. Not Eastern Europe. Not Central Europe. Not the Baltics. Western Europe only.

Now I don’t think that they’re going to actually invade Eastern Europe, Central Europe or the Baltics. But I do expect them to continue to undermine democracy whenever possible, and that includes undermining it in our country. Congress may take some steps to really investigate what happened during the 2016 election (and kudos to Republicans who are backing this idea), but clearly Trump has no interest in looking into it.

That Muslim registry/Banning Muslim immigrants

Not gonna happen. The courts won’t allow it, and there isn’t really any desire for it in the broad electorate. If these things didn’t happen after 9/11, they sure won’t happen now. All bets could be off if there were another major terrorist attack like that one, but even then, I don’t think we’ll see this.

American workers

Yeah, American workers are fucked, and there’s no doubt about that. The incoming Secretary of Labor isn’t in favor of the minimum wage existing, much less raising it, and isn’t wild about overtime, either. Look to the states to save our collective asses here, though with many states, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Beyond that, no, Trump won’t be bringing jobs back from overseas, he won’t be convincing companies to forgo profit in exchange for keeping jobs here, and coal jobs aren’t going to return, either. In fact, we’re statistically likely to end up in a recession in the next couple of years, so that’s something fun to look toward.

Civil rights

We’re gonna lose some ground. Minorities, mostly blacks, will continue to be blocked at the polls, and I expect that trans* people are going to suffer quite a bit more than otherwise.

But gay marriage is here to stay. Most Americans favor it, the Supreme Court doesn’t like reversing itself only a short time after a ruling, and there isn’t any Constitutional amendment that’s on the horizon against it.

Illegal Immigration

It’s been going down for a while, and is likely to continue to become less of a problem as time goes on. There won’t be a repeat of Operation Wetback, and we’re certainly not going to end up with a wall on the southern border. There may be some strategic expansion of the fence that currently exists, but that’s about it.

Medical coverage

The vast majority of the ACA/Obamacare is here to stay. There isn’t going to be much political motivation to allow companies to deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions, restore the annual limits on coverage, or allow them to kick people who are sick off their insurance plans. People do hate having to pay for insurance, and hate it being mandatory, and really hate it being expensive, but they love everything else with the ACA, and you don’t those other things without making insurance mandatory.

I honestly don’t know how the Republicans are going to square the circle on this one. It’s one thing to stand constantly in opposition to health care reform, but it’s a whole other thing to face a room full of voters and try to explain to them why you took away their medical coverage. But they own the problem now, so that’ll be fun to watch.

State level

I expect things at the state level will continue to red up a bit. Republicans already wield a huge amount of power in many state houses and governorships, and I expect that will probably continue, barring the party having some major setback. This will happen for two reasons: Democrats are very lazy when it comes to local elections, and Republicans have done a great job in many states with gerrymandering districts to keep themselves in power.

However, I do expect that much progressive legislation can still happen at the state level. Marijuana legalization, minimum wage increases, mandatory sick days, and the like are all things that have happened at the state level and not the federal. They’ve even happened in red states. And gay marriage started out at the state level, too, so there’s plenty of hope for here.

Summary

Trump can and will fuck up an awful lot. He knows nothing about governing, and like most Republican politicians since Reagan, he’s against the federal government (though less so than many others). He’s refusing to really disentangle himself from his business interests, has displayed shameful ignorance about government, and extreme distrust of our various intelligence agencies. He’s going to be an awful president, and will almost certainly be out by 2021, if not sooner.

He’s not Hitler. He’s not Mussolini. Don’t give him that kind of power. He’s going to be restrained by our Constitution and our courts, and even if he manages to fill every judicial nomination with conservatives, it’d still be years before they could accomplish much, and by that time, he’ll be out of office.

I mentioned Reagan a couple of paragraphs ago, and he’s a useful comparison. Reagan was a very ignorant man on many levels, who didn’t seem to care too much about actually governing and was more concerned with simply looking like, and acting like, the president, while other people did stuff in his name. I think Trump will be more of the same, except less politically savvy, which is saying something, and significantly less effectively.

And in 2018, remember to vote. And in 2020, remember to vote. And vote in 2017 and 2019, too. Vote in every election, because liberals and moderates failing to do so is why we’re going to have Donald Trump as our president. Voters caused the problem, and voters are the solution.

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