09 November 2016

In the aftermath of Trump's upset, some levity for my liberal friends

When Obama was elected in '08, it was against a backdrop of idealism, of reversing the trend of Bush — unnecessary wars, ballooning deficits, tax cuts for the rich, weakening of medicare and medicaid, threats to women's rights. What ended up happening was politics as usual. Even in the first two years with a democratic congress, Obama struggled to pass legislation with "blue dog" centrist democrats. And Obama was no saint — he was unable or unwilling to break up the "too big to fail" banks that drove us into a massive recession, he didn't close Guantanamo Bay, and he has presided over highly controversial drone attacks that have cost thousands of civilian lives.
So it will be with President Trump. He's not going to build a giant wall or enact a mass deportation of immigrants or ban Muslims from entering the U.S. All of those things have massive cost, logistical, and human rights obstacles. There will probably not be a sweeping repeal of the Affordable Care Act, because it's brought the uninsured rate to a record low. Rove V Wade isn't going anywhere even with the appointment of a conservative justice or two, because that's not how it works — there has to be precedent to overturn a ruling that's been repeatedly upheld for 40 years. Nor is the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage going anywhere, for the same reason.
Personally, I'm more concerned about conventional conservative policies I disagree with. I'm concerned about environmental deregulation that favors multinational corporations, the weakening of unions, and sweeping tax cuts that balloon the deficit and primarily benefit the ultra-rich. I'm concerned about draconian laws that make access to contraception and family planning more difficult for women. I'm concerned about even more stupid gerrymandering from the House. But Trump, too, faces a divided republican legislature that will make the passage of new laws and reforms difficult. There is not a unified republican platform, and Trump's positions have historically been amorphous — and very often quite liberal.
Many voted for him because he was the republican on the ticket. But those who voted for him out of fear and xenophobia and bigotry are in for a disappointment. You can't turn back the clock on gay rights. Immigrants are an essential part of what makes our nation "great". Muslims are not our enemies. You can't turn a blind eye to the increasing threat of climate change, nor the reality of civil rights movements like Black Lives Matter and the reforms in police accountability happening at the local level. Despite the best efforts of some, our country will keeping moving forward to be "greater" — not backward to some lost halcyon days.
This should also be a wake-up call for the left — white rural Americans decided this election, and if liberals want to change minds and influence people, they have to connect with them, even as our country becomes ever more diverse.

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