Reflections on a Trump Presidency (or, I seriously can't believe it)

While the rest of the world was fussing over the latest 'controversy' our President-elect created on Twitter, I began to reflect on my own disbelief over the outcome of this election. I mean, if I'm grieving for our country's future, I'm definitely still in the first stage: denial. I truly cannot believe that this man, who made the news this week by, among other things...

  • Settling a lawsuit for running a fraudulent university
  • Hiring a possibly racist fake-news mogul as his chief strategist
  • Keeping his business ties despite glaring conflicts of interest
  • Backpedaling on several of his major campaign platforms
  • Complaining on Twitter about the diverse cast of Hamilton pleading with the Vice-President-elect to be their advocate
  • Complaining on Twitter (again) about Saturday Night Live being mean to him
... is actually going to be our President. The highest office in the land and the most powerful single person in the free world. I can't. Fucking. Believe it. 

Why, though? Why can't I believe it? I wasn't happy about Bush's dubious victory over Al Gore, nor his victory over John Kerry, but I certainly wasn't in a state of complete disbelief. I thought Bush was wrong, in some cases dangerously so. I thought his opponents were more intelligent and qualified, but I could at least understand and empathize with the conservative point of view that got him elected. Not so with Trump. 

I've read the stories from Rust Belt voters who backed Trump because of economic uncertainty. But I can't believe people were naive enough to think Trump — or anyone, for that matter — could actually spearhead a revival of coal and/or manufacturing jobs. This is partly because throughout his campaign, Trump has never actually articulated anything resembling a policy position. How would he bring coal jobs or manufacturing jobs to the United States? He doesn't seem to actually know to increase demand for domestic coal and manufacturing jobs, which is problematic because the data doesn't support his rhetoric [1, 2]. 

I've heard from Trump supporters worried about immigration and Islamic terrorism. But I can't believe people are so quick to forget that there hasn't been an orchestrated terrorist attack in the United States in over 15 years, and that ISIS is primarily concerned with conquering and managing territory in the Middle East. Nor can I believe that people are ignorant enough to buy into the rhetoric that illegal immigration is 1) on the rise (it's not), and 2) a threat to American jobs (it's not) [3]. Point of fact: deportation of illegal immigrants has increased under Obama [4]. And I certainly can't believe that anyone, anywhere, was stupid enough to think that Trump is literally going to build a giant wall spanning our Southern border — that it's even possible, much less feasible, much less that it would actually do anything, since most illegal immigrants enter America legally — and only about half of them are Mexican anyway [5]. 

I really can't believe that Trump won the support of evangelical Christians — that they really think he's one of them. The same guy who openly boasted about cheating on his wife and groping women, who has been caught lying to a degree that can only be consider pathological [6, 7], who called a book in the Bible "two Corinthians" after saying the Bible was his favorite book [8] and then defended himself by blaming Tony Perkins [9], whose positions on abortion (one of evangelical conservatives' core issues) are amorphous and often very liberal [10]... he's being championed by evangelical conservatives as someone who will fight for their values. 

I can't believe that Trump's statements about a "Muslim registry" — renewed this week, but stated during his campaign — weren't met with widespread outrage, even among conservatives. What if he'd said "We're going to create a national register for Jews!"? Heck, the idea of a Christian registry is famous end-times folklore among evangelicals (just check out the Left Behind novels). 

Ironically, Trump's grandiose, vague, and unrealistic promises leave us with little idea of what to expect from his Presidency. He's said he wants a massive tax cut — one that will mostly benefit the very rich. But it would add so much to the deficit that it's quite possibly that conservative deficit hawks will reign him in. He's promised to dismantle major government organizations like the EPA and the DOE, but that's basically impossible [11, 12]. He's already waffled on his repeal of the Affordable Care Act [13], something he vehemently ranted about during his campaign. 

Trump was elected on promises that he can't possibly keep. He's repeatedly shown himself to be shockingly ignorant of major policy issues, both foreign and domestic. He's thin-skinned, constantly whining about others' criticism or mockery being "unfair". That he's vastly out of his depth should have been readily apparent on the campaign trail, well before he won the Republican primaries. I can respect conservatives being strongly opposed to Hillary Clinton, but Trump? That's your guy? A whiny, narcissistic, unapologetically womanizing ignoramus? I can't believe it.

This election was democrats' to lose, and they lost it hard. After six years of an obstructionist congress, democrats could have campaigned aggressively against republicans' pettiness and stubbornness and appealing to moderate conservatives' desire for strong national security and a growing economy. Instead, they got cocky — surely the electorate wouldn't be duped by this clown. But, as has happened many times before, people voted decisively against their own better interests, wooed by ideological posturing in lieu of substantive reform. Now we're stuck with this fish out of water for the next four years. At least his thin skin will provide ample fodder for late night comedy.


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