Some non-optimistic thoughts on what’s coming

We don’t know for sure what’s coming.  But I’m afraid we can be fairly confident that a lot of it won’t be good.  Here are a few thoughts on what seems likely.

Life is going to get noticeably worse for a lot of good people.  This hurts to say, but I don’t see any way around it.  Most obviously, President Obama’s executive orders on immigration making it easier for “Dreamers” and some others to stay in the country (on hold anyway due to a Texas court decision) will probably be gone on day 1.  And we can surely expect other immigration-related matters, such as the admission of refugees from places like Syria, to get worse quickly as well.

Important parts of the Obama legacy will be undone.  I don’t see a way around this one either.  Most obviously, much of Obamacare will be repealed.  The filibuster (if it even survives, which it may not) won’t save it, because the Senate can and surely will use budget reconciliation to avoid the need for 60 votes even under current rules.  Repealing Obamacare has been a central part of both Republican orthodoxy and the Trump campaign.  I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t happen.

Beyond Obamacare, we can and should expect that Obama’s actions designed to counter climate change will end.  The Clean Power Plan, on hold anyway by Justice Scalia’s last action on the Supreme Court, is done.  American participation in international climate-related agreements is probably done as well, or will be drastically altered.  American energy policy will shift dramatically to favor oil, natural gas, and coal.  And, more broadly, the future of Social Security and Medicare are in question, though Trump has actually said that he doesn’t want to undo those programs, so that’s conceivably an area where he’s not in accord with Republican orthodoxy.

The dream of a liberal Supreme Court is dead for decades.  Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist strategy on Merrick Garland’s nomination has paid off beyond his wildest dreams.  Replacing Scalia with a Trump nominee won’t actually change the Court’s center of gravity much, but Scalia’s seat of course isn’t the end of it.  We can expect that Justices Ginsburg and Breyer will hold on as long as their health allows, but there’s no knowing how long that will be.  And Justice Kennedy, who is over 80, is probably no Trump fan, but he is a Republican and a Reagan appointee, and his sense of institutional propriety might persuade him to retire during a Republican administration, however much he may dislike the president. Kennedy’s replacement by a Trump nominee would shift the Court dramatically to the right – it was Kennedy’s vote, after all, that gave us the recent decisions upholding same-sex marriage and affirmative action in higher education (among others).  No Trump nominee will see those issues the same as he does.  And don’t expect the filibuster to save us.  If I were Mitch McConnell, I would eliminate it for Supreme Court nominations (and perhaps completely) on day 1 of the new session.  He knows that, given his Garland gambit, he will never get 60 votes for a Trump nominee, so he will eliminate the need for it.

And if Kennedy’s or one of the liberals’ seat goes to a Trump nominee, we could see a lot of very ugly change very quickly.  Remember, for instance, that many states still have same-sex marriage bans on the books; they just can’t be enforced because of a Supreme Court decision. If that decision is overturned, the bans come back.

International relations are a giant, scary question mark.  The world is watching, and they are bewildered and scared.  Who can blame them?  So are a lot of us.  Newt Gingrich or John Bolton as Secretary of State?  Holy crap – and I even saw a story suggesting that defeated Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was a potential candidate for Secretary of Homeland Security.  Undoing the Iran deal?  The Mexico/wall thing?  His secret plan to rapidly defeat the Islamic State?  His weird fascination with Vladimir Putin?  I honestly have no clue how any of this is going to go.  But an unpredictable, destabilizing force like Trump in an already dangerously unstable world seems like a really bad thing.

Trumpism is becoming normalized.  This one isn’t policy, it’s who we are as a country.  Throughout the campaign, we’ve all seen Americans saying and doing things in public that are shocking, and that seemed hard to imagine only a couple of years ago.  And early post-election indications aren’t great – here, for instance, is a short video of middle-school students in Michigan chanting “build the wall, build the wall.”  Trump’s overt appeals to racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic elements in American society have had an impact and probably will continue to do so, and it’s on all of us to combat that in every way we can.

Are there silver linings?  To be honest, it’s not easy to see them right now.  There will no doubt be a good deal of intra-party soul-searching among Democrats, as there should be.  The Elizabeth Warren wing of the party may find itself ascendant; that would be a constructive development, but it remains to be seen whether it will happen and how much impact it will have.  In the short term, though, the levers of power are all controlled by Republicans.  And it will not be pretty.

Recommended by jimc, dasox1, TheBestDefense.


38 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Supreme Court

    Good points David. I hope you’re wrong about this but I think you’re right.

    And don’t expect the filibuster to save us. If I were Mitch McConnell, I would eliminate it for Supreme Court nominations (and perhaps completely) on day 1 of the new session. He knows that, given his Garland gambit, he will never get 60 votes for a Trump nominee, so he will eliminate the need for it.

  2. What's next

    I think those of us in relatively safer, richer, bluer states are going to have a real duty over the next ten weeks to be ready to help people in the rest of the country. We can go back to Romneycare; even if Obergefell gets overruled, our state marriage law is unaffected; etc. That gives us a little more breathing room, and we should use it.

    I don’t really know yet what effective resistance is going to look like, but I think if there’s going to be any real hope at all, it’s going to have to start with shoring up those state measures that can help insulate people from the worst of the Trump administration’s actions, and coordinating with organizations, both national and in red states, that can help people on the ground. And then we try to hang on for two years, and fight like hell to flip the Senate so at least there will be SOME check.

    • It will be a hell of a fight...

      …to keep the Senate proportions in 2018. Unfortunately we are defending 23 Democratic seats (+ 2 Independents that Caucus with D’s) yet there are only 8 Republican seats up for grabs.

  3. Start locally, get involved, voting isn't enough

    I’ve encountered a ton of income inequality and the racism and resentment that accompanies it right here in MA. I have visited and campaigned in every kind of community here. I have also encountered hundreds of individuals and scores of organizations working to counter that.

    I invite all of you to come to Chelsea. It has a terrible reputation but wonderful people, great food, and a lot of challenges with affordability and livability. It could us an influx of volunteers.

    Tutor in their overcrowded schools, work with Neighborhood Developers or Chelsea Collaborative on initiatives to end bigotry, reduce crime, and increase affordability in a rapidly changing community.

    My hometown is literally closed off to anyone making my income a year. As are other communities across the Commonwealth. Let’s end housing inequity, income inequality, and racial discrimination here at home. It’s not right that Mattapan and Roxbury will be ethnically cleansed of African Americans via gentrification and white out of state yuppies moving in. The Latino community is already feeling that in Chelsea.

    Working to make places like New Bedford, Fall River, Lowell, Lawrence, Fitchburg and other communities that are hurting better should be a priority. Go to Lynn and eat a meal there. Work with Neighbor to Neighbor in the communities they are involved with to get more Latinos involved with their community. Work with Emerge to shatter all the local glass ceilings in state and local government. Join your local NAACP chapter, your local ACLU, and your local Rotary club. All great organizations committed to civil equality at home and internationalism abroad. These values will be threatened and will need to be sustained on the ground locally by active volunteers.

    Join your DTC. Too many of them are full of crusty old white men committed to patronage and spoils, not enough of them are full of young people, people of color and women.

    I will encourage every friend I know with leadership potential who is non-white, LGBT or a woman to run for office. I have been doing it today. I encourage you to do the same. If there are two candidates for office I like on all the issues, and one of them is a white male and one of them is not, I will vote for the non white male. It is up to us to end these power disparities.

    A Muslim woman got elected to Congress last night, the most diverse incoming Congress in history. Visit mosques and let them know you have their back. Visit synagogues, join the ADL, and visit a black or Hispanic church while you’re at it just to let them know you have their back too.

    Talk to a Trump voter and let them know why you are disappointed. Confront them if they express bigotry, reach them where they are if they are talking about economic anxiety and point them in the right direction. Support the SEIU which has brought white working class voters together with minorities to form class solidarity, organizing not just for their members but the entire working class.

    Don’t cower in fear, work your ass off to make your community better and if everyone starts doing that, the country will get better too.

    And yes, everything David mentioned will happen and will be awful. I am not sugarcoating that, but the next two years have just arrived and these events are out of our hands. Preventing their occurrence and improving our local communities are not. Let’s never repeat 2016 again. That work begins today.

  4. Possible source of optimism

    There is a certain liklihood that Trump proves resistant to party control and political norms, with certain horrifying results. There is also a certain possibility that the Vichy Republicans enable him to do whatever he wants to do. There is also a certain liklihood that much of this will put them in a tight spot in 2020, even if Trump doesn’t run again.

    2020 will be the election that sets all of the statehouses, and thus all of the congressional districts for the next decade. If that can be a Dem wave, then there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.

    The only question is whether Schumer and Pelosi can be warriors for 4 years, instead of negotiators.

    • That's a hope of mine

      It does not stand to reason that Trump will suddenly become a right wing conservative on all issues, social and economic, and be viewed as a lapdog for the likes of McConnell and Ryan. Some how I think he will find it hard to resist pissing them off and getting brownie points from the left, which might even help him get re-elected with the independents. It’s a slim hope, but I’ll take any hope I can get at the moment.

      • I don't really expect a strategy

        He showed during the campaign that he is reactive and has an absurdly thin skin. Unless something changes dramatically, there will be daily events that occasion criticism from someone or another, and he will always escalate those things into bonfires, with prolonged grudges.

        So I suppose that could mean a “left” position here or there, but they would be mostly at random and result from trying to gouge someone on the right who pissed him off yesterday.

        • When he starts throwing people in jail ...

          I expect him to start jailing people sooner rather than later.

          The question then will be who gets jailed. I suspect we’ll soon start exercising those “checks and balances” that we talk about so often.

          I think we’re about to discover whether or not we have become a “constitutional dictatorship”.

          • Checks and balances

            I bet the Congress suddenly finds that executive orders are peachy keen after all.

            • Depends on the poll numbers

              Of course, who the hell knows if those are anywhere near accurate?

              sabutai   @   Thu 10 Nov 9:21 PM
              • Ha

                What really has me depressed is the thought of what happens once he is in the soup over something. One of those bs things that harrass all presidents from time to time, except he digs in and fights. If it turns out he needs a little surge of political support, how do you suppose he will whip it up? Even in the days of Willie Horton ads, there was a bound of human decency that candidates dare not cross, on the theory that decent Americans would be repelled by overt and explicit race baiting. That theory is disproven now; there is no such threshold.

                Once he can’t deliver a wall or a booming economy based on a trade war, how do you suppose he will keep the “Trump that Bitch” crowd fired up? And do you suppose that Homeland Security Secretary Giuliani would stand in the way?

                My fear is what this fucking guy does, with the power of the US government behind him, once he feels a little threatened. That’s the place that liberal democracy goes to die.

                • Excellent comments

                  I agree. A traditional approach for totalitarians is to start a war and then rely on “emergency measures” to cut off any ability for the opposition to regain power.

                  • Not just totalitarians

                    It’s exactly what the last Republican who lost the popular vote did…

                    • That was George W. Bush, right?

                      I know he did things we didn’t like, including starting a war of choice, but elections moved forward on schedule and Dems DID take back Congress in 2006 and elect a President to immediately succeed him.

                    • And they will today

                      The fears of Trump ending the Constitution are overblown. That said, there are a ton of war powers and emergency powers still on the books Obama and the Democrats failed to take off that President Trump can now use.

                      Among them:

                      -Jailing citizens without a civil trial if they are deemed ‘enemy combatants’
                      -Killing American citizens who are enemy combatants
                      -Killing foreign individuals across the globe in 16 combat areas without due process
                      -Launching military campaigns without Congressional authorization
                      -Launching nuclear weapons without Congressional authorization

                      The latter power was there since the Cold War, but the others are all legacies of the last President not elected by the popular vote. Democrats rolled over then and allowed him to have these powers, and they rolled over again when their party took the White House. It is time to get together with constitutional conservatives like Ben Sasse and Rand Paul and roll back these provisions pronto. No President should have ever had them, particularly someone as unprepared as our President-elect.

                • Once he feels a little threatened.

                  He’ll start to fire people and start over, again, and again, until it’s a meltdown.

          • When he starts throwing people in jail ...

            We win.

            “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

            • What's this "we", white man?

              Lone Ranger: Tonto, what are we going to do about that sea of hostile Indians riding towards us?
              Tonto: What you mean “we”, white man?

              As much as I love Mahatma Gandhi, it is worth pointing out that it was Allied military forces fighting in very real combat with very real bullets that won that war.

              When Donald Trump starts throwing people in jail, all bets are off. There are no military forces anywhere else sufficient to stop the tyranny.

              My question is how long it will be before the Trumpists suspend the Second Amendment, in response to the millions of people who begin arming themselves against Trumpist authorities.

              • Arming yourself against the President?

                You’ve really gone Full Metal Tea Party Tom. I do not question the legitimacy of Donald Trumps birthplace, his election, or his presidency. I do question the legitimacy and morality of many of his policies, and will continue to use my constitutional rights to protest them when I dissent, and to support them when I agree. Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren had the right responses to this election.

                America is sick and tired of a rigged political system where the insiders get ahead at the expense of ordinary people. Now is the time to create a truly people powered workers movement within the Democratic Party to confront Trump and show the millions of non-bigoted people who voted for him anyway that there is a real alternative. That work is a lot harder than blaming rednecks and racists for our lot. But in the long run it’s more emotionally satisfying and will lead to a truly progressive coalition that can govern.

                • I guess we'll have to just wait and see

                  What do YOU think will happen when the wagons start rounding up “illegals” and federally-empowered and armed police spread stop-and-frisk through our cities at the urging of Attorney General Rudy Giuliani?

                  Maybe things will work out differently. I think we’ve got between now and January 20th to make our plans. I think all bets are off after that.

                  • Two replies

                    1) Obama has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president. If you didn’t know this rounding up was already happening under our noses, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to immigration issues. The wagons are already here and have been for awhile, it’s just easier for white liberals to pretend these things only happen under Republicans.

                    2) The full deportation of 12 million won’t happen. It just won’t. There are too many vested interests in maintaining the immigration status quo where these workers get to come here and be exploited but don’t have a pathway to citizenship.

                    If you care about helping immigrants I encourage you to work with two organizations I have spent the last three months working with. Neighborhood Developers who are keeping immigrants from getting priced out of Chelsea and the Chelsea Collaborative which is working on stopping tenant abuses and check kiting in workplaces.

                    Exploitation against immigrants is happening all over our country, including right here in Massachusetts just over the river from you in Somerville. Join the fight!

            • Are you really prepared for that...?

              When he starts throwing people in jail …(0+ / 0-) View voters

              We win.

              “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

              Gandhi’s words were not a description of a tactical path to victory.

              They were a description of a moral victory. Anger and violence, according the Gandhi, were the outer markers of an inner cowardice and weakness and the resort to violence was a giving in to that cowardice. Courage required not only to let them laugh at you, but also let them beat you. To not fight back. Even to let them kill you.

              Are you prepared for that kind of victory? Are you prepared to NOT fight back? If you are not, you should refrain from quoting Gandhi in this manner…

  5. No way gay marriage is overturned

    I just don’t see it. Every day that goes by, it becomes more normal to have a gay neighbor, cousin, colleague at work. Every day that goes by, more and more Americans — including loads of Trump supporters — grow stronger personal bonds with gay people.

    Due to segregation (self imposed or due to historic reasons), this isn’t nearly as true with black people, brown people, Jews, or Muslims.

    I think the surest way for Trump to lose ground in places like Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey is to go after gays. It’s not just about the EVs in 2020 either, it’s about mid-terms in 2018.

    I’m not expecting any progress on LGBTQIA issues under Trump, and we may see backsliding around other rights, but I just don’t see losing gay marriage.

    • I think inner cities are the places to watch

      I agree with you. Donald Trump doesn’t care about gays, there’s no political gain in harassing them.

      I think we need to keep our eyes on what happens in our inner cities.

      Here’s what I fear most, and hope like hell doesn’t transpire: A violent uprising sweeps our inner-city slums and ghettos and starts threatening police and National Guard troops. Donald Trump’s administration uses this as a pretext to absolutely crush the revolt. He’ll say “See? We were right all along” — and he’ll have the full-throated support of the sixty million Americans who voted for him in hopes he will do just that (or just ignored his promises to do the same).

      Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew intentionally and explicitly provoked violence during the anti-war protests leading up to the 1972 election, knowing full well that America’s “silent majority” would see the attacks on police, would see the burning stores and overturned cars, would see the protesters committing the acts, and would turn out in force to “support our police” and “protect America”.

      It looks to me like Donald Trump is calling the same play.

    • Plus, he hasn't been nearly as hostile...

      …to LGBT as to other groups – that’s what VP Pence is for (Did I say that out loud?). If Nixon is the comparison then I am gratified to recall the Republic survived his presidency.

    • Marriage

      is Supreme Court fodder. That’s the thing – Trump doesn’t have to do it. He just has to appoint Scalia’s replacement, hope for a vacancy from Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy, and then let things take their course. SCOTUS can overrule Obergefell and toss the issue back to the states, at which point bans that are still on the books in many places (though currently unenforceable) will suddenly spring back into force. Some states will eliminate them either via their own state courts or legislatively; others will not.

      • Ugh

        I don’t think they’ll pick that fight, but who knows? I’m a little shocked that Ryan is already talking about Medicare.

      • See I think that's an electoral disaster for Republicans

        I think an overturning of Obergefell is a disaster for Republicans. Here’s why:

        Every non-grey state would have gay marriage eliminated the moment Obergefell is overruled.

        Colorado, Iowa…
        So lets think about Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida. These states had a Republican upper and lower house going into the elections this year, and I’m not aware of any of them being hit with a wave of blue. Colorado and Iowa had one D and one R chamber.

        The GOP has two choices: 1, they legalize gay marriage and piss off their base, or 2, they don’t. Where possible, the Dems put the issue on the state ballot to drive turnout, and where not, every single candidate runs on being pro-gay-marriage, and wins enough suburban and swingy districts to take back the state house.

        I could be totally wrong, but I think that gay marriage is an issue for which the middle “third” of Americans will vote to support, because it is a civil rights issue and not a naturally political one. Put it on the ballot (by overturning Obergefell) and I think that Democrats win loads of seats as a result. If I were Trump, I’d make sure my vetting of potential justices included that detail.

        • My map didn't work...

          • Exactly right

            Same thing with abortion rights. If it were thrown back to the states, the Republicans would lose election after election. Republicans I know don’t care about those issues anymore, those who do just don’t add up. They know this. There will be no huge changes in these two areas by the incoming administration.

            • Thing is,

              SCOTUS justices have a funny habit of not doing what might be most politically advantageous for the president that installed them, once they take office. And I really can’t imagine Trump going for some sort of moderate appointment.

              • I think you're out on a limb on this one...

                Just seems like too many ways for your hypothetical outcome to not come true.

                On a side note, know what’s interesting about the map above: with the exception of Colorado, the pink states all went Trump and the grey states all went Clinton. I’ve yet to see anyone else make that observation, and I don’t know what it means, but there it is.

      • Who would have standing...

        …to bring a case to SCOTUS that would result in negating rights?

  6. I guess the filibuster is good again

    Might as well make Mitch be the one to break it.

« Blue Mass Group Front Page

Add Your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Sat 29 Apr 11:25 AM