As of November 13, 2016
Like many people I know, I am in a state of shock about the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency. I find myself worrying about the future. Yet, perhaps, in an election cycle where nearly everyone got it wrong, I too am getting it wrong. I suspect I am overreacting, getting caught up in fear and letting anxiety run away with me.
Some of my concerns are fairly abstract. I am upset that so many Americans seem to have been convinced to vote for this individual – who never had any business running for President – based on what seem to me to be lies and distorting propaganda. It upsets me that many principles of equality and fairness seem to have been rejected in this election – that women and minorities have been officially denigrated and may face new discrimination.
These issues do not affect my life, though they do diminish my peace of mind. I am deeply disappointed in a system that produced such a bad choice. I resent the cynicism of the political class and their media enablers. I resent the probability that rich donors and corporations will reap a tax cut windfall that they don’t deserve – with promises of job creation cynically skirted with share buybacks, M&A and more offshore investment.
My more serious concerns are practical. I am the sole provider for a family that includes three Orthodox Jewish boys, the oldest of whom is almost 16. I worry about a recession that may reduce my ability to support my family or retire as I wish to. I resent the thought of having diminished Medicare and privatized Social Security. I worry about my sons being drafted to fight a war caused by an insult to a thin-skinned new president. I fear anti-Semitism, which was barely concealed during the Trump campaign. Today’s call to ban Muslims from the US might easily become tomorrow’s call to ban Jews.
I worry about backlash from angry whites and blacks in the coming years. Soon, I suspect that many working class whites will realize that they’ve been had. They will have lost some of the social benefits they rely on and the jobs won’t be showing up. I fear that there will be racial violence. I fear that the Jews will get blamed for the troubles, as so often happens in history when demagogues appear to have broken their economic promises.
I fear the onslaught of unforeseen events that will catalyze all sorts of bad reactions: a terror attack, serious incidents of racial provocation, a serious international crisis – the country seems ripe for such an incident. And, such events may unleash forces that no one will be able to stop. Everyone is on edge. The campaign was ugly. It got a lot of ugly people excited about doing ugly things. This is dangerous for everyone, especially Jews. Things can easily spiral out of control.
Yet… yet… none of this has happened so far. It’s only been a few days. I am consumed by fearful prognostications. This is not healthy. I need to be realistic and aware but it’s not helpful for me or anyone who relies on me for me to ruminate endlessly on what ifs. I need to remember a couple of countervailing thoughts:
- Trump will not be the president. He will think he’s the president, but the administration will be controlled by others. Mostly, it appears, by party hacks and corporate stooges who will implement a hard right agenda.
- It seems quite obvious that he doesn’t have the slight idea what’s going on now. And, why would he? He never held office. He doesn’t really know what the president does or how the government works. Everyone is running circles around him lining up their cushy, powerful gigs, positions from which they will manipulate him to do what they want. It will be similar to the Bush administration but worse, because at least Bush came from a political dynasty and had some inkling of what his role in the government was.
- Most of his campaign pledges are meaningless. This is already starting to be revealed, with the “Wall” idea being walked back (though praised by the ever cynical Newt Gingrich as an effective campaign ploy.)
- The Federal bureaucracy still has a lot of independent power regardless of political appointees.
- Congress may not go along with the administration’s ideas, even if they are theoretically aligned ideologically:
- Health insurance is big business. Bluster aside, Congress may not want to cut off billions of dollars in revenue to their insurance donor class. Ditto for pharmaceuticals.
- A lot of big Republican donors rely on illegal immigrant labor to save money and avoid unions. Congress will not likely undertake any major immigration reforms as a result.
- A great deal of social welfare spending actually ends up in the hands of Republicans. Cutting food stamps, housing, WIC and so forth reduces revenue to companies like WalMart and real estate investors. Cuts may not be as big as one predicts.
Finally, Trump may not last that long. The Republican establishment doesn’t need him any more. He served his purpose as a Trojan horse to give them single party rule. Now, he will likely become an embarrassment. He may have a “heart attack” at the hands of someone close to him… who knows.. a 70 something overweight man… he just keeled over. What a tragedy. (wink). Or, he’ll do something that will justify impeachment and he’ll be betrayed by the Congress of his own party. That would not surprise me at all. In the meantime, I need to calm down.