Donald Trump will fail as President.
Let me explain that statement a little, by defining what I mean by “fail.” Trump will fail to accomplish most, if not all, of the goals that he has publicly stated he wishes to accomplish. (He may, of course, accomplish goals that he has not publicly stated, like enriching himself by manipulating the office of President or severely curtailing civil liberties. But we can’t really know what those are, so I will leave them aside for now.) The reason is simple: most of his stated goals are flatly impossible.
Take, for example, his pledge to “unleash” the coal industry. He plans to do this by rolling back Obama Administration regulations. However, those regulations aren’t the reason why the coal industry was in trouble in the first place. Coal was in trouble because it’s too expensive. Natural gas is cheaper. Even wind and solar are getting cheaper than coal! The only way to “unleash” coal would be through a massive campaign of government subsidies. Good luck getting Paul Ryan to sign up for that, Mr. Trump!
Or, for another example, look at Trump’s vow to put the US military “on display” by increasing the military budget to buy more ships, tanks, and planes. But the military development and procurement processes these days are decades long – so even if Trump doubled the military budget, it could be ten or twenty years before there’s any visible increase in American military capability!
Trump also says he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. He wants to do this by renegotiating free trade agreements. This won’t work at all, though – the reason why lots of manufacturing jobs dried up in the US is more because of automation than trade and jobs moving overseas. A terrific example is the Carrier plant where Trump claimed to save jobs from moving to Mexico. Part of the large taxpayer-funded incentive package Trump gave to Carrier was assistance investing in their Indiana plant. Guess what Carrier is investing in? Automation! If that automation cuts the need for more jobs than Trump saved, he produced a net loss for American workers.
I could go on, of course. There’s the infamous travel ban that doesn’t target terrorists, but instead targets terrorists’ victims. There’s his pledge to provide healthcare for everyone, which there’s really only two ways to accomplish: give it to everyone (a single-payer system), or require everyone to get it and give them assistance if needed (Obamacare). His promises regarding GDP growth or budget-balancing don’t square with any projections, assuming he cuts taxes the way he promised. His rhetoric and stated goals are populist, but his policy proposals and cabinet appointments are corporatist. A wall along the Mexican border will have to traverse rugged mountains and sovereign Native territory, and there is no way for the US to get Mexico to pay for it.
He’s simply not going to do any of the things he wants, because he cannot. But I think patriotic Americans need to fight against him whenever we can anyway.
The first reason to resist Trump is because, though he may be a snake oil salesman, he’s a good salesman. He knows how to use your own brain against you. His administration appears to be on a concerted campaign to gaslight us – to get us to question the veracity of any information presented to us by anyone other than the administration itself. They invent fake terror plots, fake definitions of words, fake counts of people, fake reasons why the President can’t disclose his business dealings, and fake historical events. This process isn’t benign, and it is insidious. Removing references to Jews from the Holocaust, for example, has long been an anti-Semitic tactic.
So, we must constantly be on our guard. We cannot assume that the administration has our best interest in mind. We cannot even assume that what they say is accurate. We have to carefully screen their statements against facts available from reliable sources, and we have to defuse their gaslighting with knowledge of how they are trying to manipulate us. (Seriously, read that article!) We have to resist. If we don’t, who knows what they will try to sell us on?
The second reason to resist Trump gets back to my definition of failure as failing to accomplish his stated goals. I am quite sure that Trump has unstated goals. If he didn’t want to hide anything, why would he keep insisting against disclosing his tax returns, for example? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure what those unstated goals are. But we can probably get some idea by looking at the stated goals of his closest advisers. Steve Bannon, for example, apparently said that he wants to bring the entire American system “crashing down,” and he has been explicit about his desire to curtail civil liberties, especially for non-whites and non-Christians.
Even if Trump fails to do the things he campaigned on doing, he can do a lot of fundamental damage to civil society in the meantime. The confusion over enforcement of the Muslim travel ban illustrated perfectly how, even if the Administration’s orders are unconstitutional, unethical, and flagrantly immoral, they could ram them through for some time before the courts could catch up. (The legislative branch of government has yet to do so!) Voting restrictions on minorities or the poor, more travel restrictions, profiling by law enforcement, permit and grant awards, and other avenues allow the executive branch of government a great deal of power. Therefore, we must fight back: we must challenge his orders in the courts as rapidly as Trump signs them, we must pressure our representatives to stall Trump’s legislative agenda and restrict executive power where it’s abused, and we must remember to keep our voices heard in all spheres of government. Remember, Trump lost the popular vote, and his electoral college victory hinged on the votes of 0.025% of the population – in an election when less than half of voters actually cast ballots. He has no mandate. His Republican allies’ mandates rest on gerrymandering. With such a weak base of support, there is an opening for us. We must seize it.
For the sake of all those too weak to fight back, all those who would be victimized by Bannon’s place on the National Security Council and Trump’s executive orders, we have a moral, ethical, and patriotic obligation to fight back. Because although Trump will fail, his failure cannot come soon enough for our communities.