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.

Have They, At Long Last, No Decency?


What does it take for good men to stand up when those they support do wrong?

I ask because the GOP-controlled legislature in North Carolina, working in collusion with their rather horrible outgoing governor, has just passed a sweeping set of laws that are designed entirely to keep Democrats out of the political process. It’s a bold, stark, power-grab, and an insult to the very notion of democracy.

Wither the Republican response? The Democrats, of course, are seething, but where are the prominent Republicans, sickened by the very notion of this kind of abuse of power? Why aren’t they standing up, defending what they claim are the virtues of our government?

The reason, of course, is obvious: the power is what they want, and few men or women are bold enough, brave enough, or wise enough to stand up and refuse power when it’s dropped onto the laps of them or those they support.

But I’d like to think that the Democratic establishment, at least, is different. The Republicans “stole” a Supreme Court nomination from Obama, hobbled his presidency at every turn, began said presidency by saying their goal was to deny him a second term, and then we get to something like this.

The Democrats did something like this back during Reconstruction, and occasionally grumble about pulling crap like this even now. But they don’t, and the Republicans actually are. It’s terrible, and our country deserves better.

The next few years are going to be awkward and terrible on many levels, and we really, really need for not only Democrats, but also Republicans who find this stuff distasteful, to stand up and fight. I don’t think many of us really want our nation to be ruled by Trump and his minions, and standing up against that requires standing up against this, too.

How Long Will Trump Last?


Will Trump, our future president, wind up being a one-term president, or will he go the distance and get two? Or will something different happen?

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“I ate his liver, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. It was the best, most amazing dinner ever. Truly great.”

So here’s my guess: I think Trump is out before the end of 2019.

Now, why do I think this?

I think this because most Republicans would much rather have Mike Pence in office, and while currently Trump is riding a bit of a wave of success, there is no reason at all to think that will last. If he goes through with his various plans, it’s probable that the recession we’re statistically likely to experience will be much, much worse. When that happens, who will everyone blame? Exactly.

Don’t get me wrong: I loathe Pence and everything he represents. I think he’s a fundamentally bad person because he favors torturing gay people. There’s almost nothing good about him. Almost.

The one good thing is that he’s a mainstream politician. He’s interested in votes, and he’s interested in helping the Republican party. Trump likes votes, but doesn’t owe anything at all to the party. Thus, they’ll be happy to abandon him for someone else as soon as they have a chance.

Trump’s administration is already well-set to be a very corrupt one, starting at the top and going down from there. When it comes time for the Republican party to oust him (either impeachment or forcing him to resign), it’ll happen because of that. And then they’ll right the ship and breathe a sigh of relief.

In fact, this might even be good for the party, because even though it increases the likelihood of a Democrat winning the presidency in 2020, it does a great job of making the Republicans look like people who are willing to put country before party. That’ll sell well with the voters.

Of course this won’t end the terrible things that Trump has brought to the body politic. But I’ll bet something like this is what happens, just you wait.

Our Last, Best Chance? No.


The Electoral College is meeting in a few days to rubber-stamp the election and make it official: Donald Trump will be our next president.

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Such tiny hands.

Nevertheless there remains a core group of people who really, really don’t want this, myself included. Some of that core group, myself not included, are appealing to the electors to vote for someone else. Anyone else, really, but ideally for Hillary.

This is, to put it mildly, a terrible idea. Can you just imagine? Suppose that we wake up on the 20th to find that on the 19th, the electors, to protect democracy and our nation, put in Hillary instead of Trump. Just think of the great hue and cry we’d get from the Trump voters who would say, not without some inaccuracy, that the election was stolen from them. Never mind that Hillary won significantly more votes than Trump; all they’d care about is that the Electoral College stole away the election.

I can’t picture a worse way for Hillary to begin her time in office. A nation already deeply-divided, with so many people hating Hillary because she’s, well, Hillary, and then compound that with electoral shenanigans. Add to this a Republican controlled House and Senate, and you have a recipe for four years of deeply unpleasant politics.

Now maybe you think this is worth it, and perhaps it is. From what Trump has done so far, I have no faith at all that he’s going to be a decent president. And an argument can be made that the Electoral College exists to stop runaway democracy. Indeed one could argue that due to how extremely unqualified Trump is, just maybe they should put a stop to him. But the only way to do that and make it work would be with a third party candidate, and that’s just not likely.

So, no, fellow liberals. We need to just suck it up and spend the next four years fighting the worst excesses of the Trump regime. At least it’ll give the No DAPL people something to do.

What Did Russia Do?


What did Russia do during the 2016 United States presidential election? Did they interfere? Did they work to throw the election to Trump?

There’s been suspicions about this for a while now, and electoral meddling is something Russia has done through parts of Europe. But doing it here in the USA would be something entirely new and different. It also would be without precedent, as while we’ve fucked with elections before, we haven’t fucked with the ones in Russia. If we had, Putin wouldn’t be in charge anymore.

I remain somewhat skeptical of the idea of them meddling in our election, but I can’t dismiss it out of hand, and the fact that now a bipartisan group of American politicians are getting into the action.

I’d very much like to have a full investigation here and find out exactly what happened. It’s worth knowing so that we can prevent it from  happening again.

New Labor


Our new Labor Secretary will be…the former CEO of CKE, which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s, Jr.

So, yeah. He thinks many American workers are paid too much. I’ll let you guess which ones.

As a reminder to the liberals out there who refused to vote for Hillary because reasons, let me point out that there’s every possibility that we could have instead had Bernie Sanders as our Secretary of Labor. Instead we get the CEO of a fast food chain. Nicely one, you selfish fucks. Nicely done.

Why Not Sixteen?


How well-developed is the mind of the average sixteen-year-old? Developed enough that we allow them to drive a ton of steel down a road at 65 miles per hour. Developed enough that they’re expected (and have been for a couple of years at that point), to make major choices in their education that will impact the rest of their lives. Ones who misbehave at a high enough level even get tried as adults.

We treat them like adults in many, many ways. So…why not let them vote?

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I mean, the ear gagues are terrible, but otherwise they can show good judgement.

I’d say that  the average sixteen-year-old has enough maturity and knowledge that voting is something they should be allowed to do, especially as, obviously, the average sixteen-year-old is going to have to live with various things politicians do longer than anyone who is older than they are.

Sure, not everyone at this age is responsible enough to be able to vote, but if there’s one thing that the recent election has proven it’s that age is no indicator of responsible voting ability.

Mind you, this won’t happen as long as Republicans have anything to say about it. They’d much rather no one under 65 vote, as young people tend to vote Democrat more than they do Republican.

But I still say it’s worth considering, worth pushing, and worth amending our Constitution for.