With Donald Trump's victory last night the Republicans find themselves in the historic position of being poised to fundamentally alter the trajectory of the United States. With control of both chambers of Congress and Trump as President-elect, the Republicans will be in the position to privatize anything they want including prisons. In fact, the stock price of Corrections Corporation of America shot up 50 percent since Trump won and the Geo Group up 20.1 percent. And big pharmaceutical corporations' stocks are jumping too anticipating the coming free-for-all on drug prices.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's ploy of refusing a vote on President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court looks like political genius. With control of the House, Senate, Presidency, and the Supreme Court, the right-wing Republicans will be free to exercise their raw power totally unchecked by our vaunted system of "checks and balances."
With 33 governorships compared to the Democrats' 14, along with total control of Washington, the Republicans will be more powerful than ever before. They can eliminate or alter election and voting laws to further cement their formidable advantages electorally.
In his first remarks following Trump's victory, President Obama implied that this outcome is just how elections work, you win some and lose some. And now all the pundits across the rancid cable news shows that enabled Trump's rise and failed the nation so miserably are telling us (once again) that Trump can be made to realize that now that he's "President-elect" he must start being "presidential."
Don't count on it.
This rhetoric merely distracts us from paying attention to the slow motion coup d'état that has taken place in this country led by a committed, tight-knit group of Alt-Right extremists.
On Fox News and elsewhere in the right-wing blogosphere the office of the presidency, after being so maligned during the Obama years, will go back to being "sacrosanct" now that a Republican will inhabit it. Since 9-11 the power of the presidency has grown exponentially. One of the many reasons I opposed George W. Bush and Barack Obama's use of drones to kill people all over the world was because I feared that this deadly tool would eventually fall into the hands of a less restrained Chief Executive and could lead us into World War III.
Never before in its history has this country handed so much power to a man so undeserving of wielding it. Given Trump's proclivities toward the grotesque and grandiose such power will surely go to his head. A President Trump, surrounded with his coterie of retainers, sycophants, alt-right-wingers like Stephen K. Bannon and neo-cons like James Woolsey and General Michael Flynn, and others will be just three or four wrong decisions from sparking nuclear war.
All of our institutions failed us. The corporate media news system, operating inside a political economy where only high ratings and click numbers matter created the environment where Trump could amass billions of dollars in free publicity. For about two years, the corporate media normalized Trump, swaddled him in emperor's clothes, and gave his shills a place at the table regardless of their level of demonstrable mendacity. Trump was the shiny object. They forced us to watch him constantly and just when we hoped the spectacle might meet a merciful end, now we're saddled with seeing him every minute for at least the next four years. We have to explain to our children who this boisterous bully is and why we have to pay attention to what he says and does.
The U.S. presidency has two fundamental roles: One is the "administrative" role where the chief executive appoints officials, makes policy decisions, signs legislation, directs the military, and works with Congress and the courts. The other role is "ceremonial" where the president serves as a kind of mascot for the country, the nation's chief diplomat and the face projected to the rest of the world, a leader who appears at ceremonies involving the armed forces or state dinners, summits with world leaders, and the like. It is in this ceremonial capacity where the president must lead by example and it is symbolically important to our people, especially our children. That's why politicians pretend to care so much about the "character" of any person who seeks the presidency. From what we've already seen from Donald Trump it is likely he will be disastrous in both these roles.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood the forces that needed to be corralled and contained in America if we were to continue with this grand experiment in democracy. FDR said at a time when fascism was sweeping through many countries in Europe and in the Far East, in his message to Congress on April 29, 1938:
"Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing."
For those of us who do not share the alt-right's dystopian "vision" for the future of our country we must remind ourselves that we have just as many people on our side as they have on theirs. We will exercise our civil rights under the U.S. Constitution to protest against the coming abuses. There are already demonstrations against Trumpism planned for cities across the country. We must stand up to the bullies who will aggressively strip away our democratic traditions and rights as free individuals. FDR recognized the danger when private power seizes government power and it's time we did too.