I admit that my powers of prediction are so-so.
After all, I didn’t think the racist misogynist would win. However, in my defense, I was the only progressive in the country who was merely surprised — as opposed to shocked, flabbergasted, and devastated — when Trump clinched the White House. I had always acknowledged it as an unpleasant possibility.
But now I’m going full-on psychic when I say that Trump will not turn America into a dictatorship, or provoke a nuclear war, or imprison every intellectual, or fulfill any of the other alarmist predictions you’ve seen from my fellow liberals.
For example, Trump’s wall on the Mexican border will turn out to be a couple hundred miles of extra fencing, if that.
There will be no deportation force that kicks 12 million people out of the country.
The First Amendment will remain intact.
And we can move on and on through the numerous other apocalyptic visions of what will happen in the next few years — they will not come to pass.
To be clear, this isn’t because Trump doesn’t want to do these things. Indeed, one of the more insane comments we heard during this most insane of presidential campaigns was that Trump didn’t really mean what he was saying, and was just riling up his base. Bullshit — he meant every word.
Also, let’s drop the delusion that Trump will somehow settle down once he takes the oath of office. Trump has no intention of backing off on his reactionary agenda. He really does want to revoke the citizenship of people who burn the American flag.
But he won’t — mostly because he can’t. The first reason is checks and balances.
And I don’t mean that the Republican-dominated Congress is finally going to stand up for principles and standards and decency and other quaint concepts that the GOP sloughed off when it embraced Trump. It’s very cute to think so.
The real reason the Republican Congress will block Trump’s more egregious proposals is because it’s not worth the political headache. They will be too busy passing tax cuts for the rich and killing Obamacare and gutting Social Security — you know, standard GOP stuff. And they will send bills to Trump and say, “Sign here,” and he will do it, because he has no political viewpoint other than self-aggrandizement, and in any case, he will be too distracted composing attack tweets.
So clearly, it’s going to be bad in America — just not “Here comes Hitler” bad.
And that leads to the chief reason why Trump will not shut down the New York Times, or make college professors sign loyalty oaths, or change the nation’s motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “Bros before Ho’s.”
Oh, all that would be very Trumpian — and way too obvious.
You see, I know you were all ready to sign up for that Muslim registry (whether you are Muslim or not), just to stick it to the man and mess with the banality of evil and be all defiant. But there will be no Muslim registry. So then we’ll all relax and just shrug when surveillance on mosques is increased and hostility toward Muslims gets even worse. We’ll say, “Well, that’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”
And when the new Supreme Court chips away at abortion rights, we’ll say, “Whew, I thought they were going to completely overturn Roe v. Wade. So I’ll take it.”
And when voting laws continue to suppress blacks and Latinos, we’ll say, “Hey, I thought he was going to trample civil rights all at once. Close call.”
You get the picture. All this shrieking that Trump is going to be an American Mussolini does us a disservice. It primes us to be relieved when climate change is ignored, or when gun control becomes even less of an issue, or when healthcare is merely as terrible as it was ten years ago.
We are setting ourselves up to embrace the miserable, simply because it is not the horrific.
The most egregious, outrageous, and overt violations of our Constitution and societal norms will not be so easy for you to spot. They rarely are. So it will require real work to fight cultural deterioration. Caving in to hysteria doesn’t help.
Of course, I could be tragically wrong on this, and four years from now our nation might be a fascistic nightmare and/or in the midst of societal collapse.
What happens then?
Well, then you can turn to me, as they march us into the Thunderdome, and smirk when you say, “Told you so.”