The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Month: January 2017 Page 1 of 4

The Method to Trump and Bannon’s “Madness”

The “chaos” of the first two weeks mostly isn’t chaos.

And the internal opposition is welcome to the new administration.

When you intend to have a revolutionary administration, you expect that the bureaucracy (the “Deep State”) will object: They are members of the old regime, that’s what they know and what they like.

So you want them to oppose you openly. You want them to stick their heads up and scream. You want them to block you in ways you can see.

You need to know who isn’t going to “go along to get along” so you can get rid of them. Everyone opposing you is doing you a favor unless they have enough power or are operating in such large numbers that you can’t get rid of them–OR if they are truly irreplaceable and doing something vital.

(Irreplaceable rarely means no one else can do what they do; it means everyone who can do what they do is so ideologically-bound to the previous ideology they won’t work for you.)

But, overall, the idea is to conduct tests to see who’s loyal (jumps to it with enthusiasm), who’s biddable (will do it even if they don’t like it), and who needs to go because they won’t get with the plan.

I would do the same thing if I was running a radically left-wing administration. It is far better to fire them now or give them a powerless desk to fly, than have them keep their heads down and sabotage from within. Plus, high profile scalps are needed to intimidate others (see “Trump and the Art of the Strongman).”

People who really want to oppose Trump and who are in the administration have a stark choice. If they think that high-profile defiance will weaken him enough that he can’t enact his agenda, or will be impeached (to be replaced by Pence, at least as bad in many ways), then so be it. But if they don’t, it might be better to keep their heads down and sabotage from within.

Meanwhile, from where I sit, Bannon and Trump are still outplaying their opponents (which is not to minimize the good the Resistance is doing). Bannon has a plan, and he’s executing it. He’s thought long and hard about what to do and that gives him an advantage.

The current focus on Bannon might bear fruit. He and Kushner are the most competent people Trump listens to, and if a wedge can be driven between them; using Trump’s ego against “President Bannon,” perhaps Bannon’s power can be reduced or he can even be gotten rid of. Kushner, as the son-in-law, is probably not someone who can be peeled off. Bannon might be.

Bottom line: If you are a civil service member who can expect to not be let go soon anyway, you should keep your head down and work from within. If you are going to be let go of anyway (as with the acting Attorney General who defied Trump), you might as well go out with a bang.

I’ll discuss, soon, actual strategy for defeating Trump. General opposition is good, but the current strategy is neither focused nor brutal enough to bear results soon unless Trump blows himself up (not impossible, but not worth counting on–though one should do everything possible to encourage his instability, if one opposes him.)

I note, once again, that defeating Trump is nice, but absent a fix of the general trajectory of the United States, will only kick the ball down the field. Fortunately, there are ways to do both at the same time.

More later.

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Lessons for “The Resistance” from the Bush Resistance

Trump’s ban of travelers from seven Muslim countries spawned a large backlash, showing that “the resistance” is still a thing. I suspect it will continue to be a thing, because Trump is going to do much which enrages people who already believe he is a fascist.

It is little commented on now, but when Bush was ramping up for his invasion of Iraq, millions of people came out against it, world-wide. Most US allies of any significance–apart from Britain–refused to participate. The war went ahead anyway, and in its shadow there was resistance. I was part of that, the Netroots.

The Netroots opposed Bush directly when possible, and it also sought to make the Democratic Party better because we had noticed that enough Democrats (and in many cases almost all) Democrats had signed off on the worst parts of Bush’s regime. Gore, had he been in power, might not have been quite so bad, but the Democrats weren’t really opposing Bush strongly, and some of them were absolutely terrible–straight-up collaborators.  Joe Lieberman, for example. (Who was also Obama’s mentor in the Senate.)

It should be clear that the Netroots was pretty organized: We communicated behind the scenes, and often coordinated. We were in constant contact with Democratic Party staffers, and had access to many Democratic Congress members. They saw that we had reach, and, being politicians, they wanted to use that reach. Even people who despised us, like Clinton, came to Netroots.

In 2006, Republicans lost control of the House. The Netroots had helped with that, and we had hopes and expectations.

They were quickly dashed: The House caucus had taken our help, sure, but they had no intention of seriously opposing Bush’s wars or his vast over-reach on civil liberties and executive power.

Then, in 2008, Obama won. He took some of our help, but he didn’t buy it. Unlike the Democrats in 2006, many of whom had pretended to agree with us and had been willing to work with us, Obama did not work with the Netroots. During the entire campaign, the only time he reached out to us was during a period of a few weeks when he was losing to McCain in the polls, and even that was pro-forma.

Obama built his own grassroots organization, and he didn’t go through the blog gatekeepers (there were exceptions, one A-list blog of the time was the favored dumping ground for Obama oppo research). Instead, Obama’s supporters, and very likely operatives, flooded the comments and diaries. Obama got the support of Netroots supporters without having to give anything to the Netroots organizers.

By “give anything,” I mean “policy concessions.” And while there was plenty of petty careerism in the Netroots, that was never the issue. Since 2008, many people who were part of the Netroots at that time have been taken on and given jobs by various organizations associated with the Democrats. The trivial amount of money required to buy out the “alpha activists” wasn’t the question–control was.

Obama was very clear about his contempt for the Netroots. He thought that we didn’t understand how politics worked and how good things happen. He was explicit, you can read it in Obama’s original post at DKos.

So Obama got in power, he bailed out the banks, he fucked over ordinary home-owners, he increased deportations and ramped up drone assassinations. He was far harsher on whistleblowers than Bush had been and he re-signed all the bad bills when the time came, like the Patriot Act and the AUMF, which had given Bush massive executive power and carte-blanche to spy, and assassinate, and go to war.

Obama institutionalized Bush. Oh, he drew back on some things, but he advanced others, and he left the basic power structure in place and the legal structure. Then he went to war with Libya, which while it killed less people than the Iraq war, was the exact same type of war crime as Bush had committed: aggressive war on a non-threatening country. This is what the Nazis were hung for in Nuremburg.

Note that the Democrat-controlled House and Senate of 2009/2010 was no better than Obama, they did not push him to be better.

The Netroots hadn’t quite given up yet. They had one last hurrah in 2010 when they tried to primary Blanche Lincoln. Obama came out strongly in support of her and she won. The Netroots, what was left of it, collapsed (no results, crashing traffic and a cash crunch from other sources).

Six years, later Trump won the election. The apparatus put in place by Bush to allow him to commit his crimes and over-reach was not just still there, it had been extended significantly in terms of whistleblower prosecution, drone assassination, spying on journalists, immigrant incarceration, and surveillance state powers and capabilities.

Trump inherited a more powerfully oppressive system than Obama did, even if Obama had not always used it as oppressively as Bush (though in some cases he had been worse).

There are a couple lessons to learn from this.

The first is that while partisan Democrats may be one’s allies when opposing a Republic president, their opposition is opportunistic and not principled. The second they are in charge, they will support or wave aside the same actions they condemned coming from a Republican. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with partisan Democrats, it means understand when they’ll stop fighting AND that once they don’t need you, they will regard you as a threat and seek to to eliminate you.

The second is more important: The control of a party matters more than the results of any individual election.

This is where half the readers will disagree, indeed, they will disagree violently and emotionally.

But there’s a reason that the US is where it is: After each over-reach, after each extension of executive powers, to the creation of police state and the waging of war, the Democrats didn’t roll back the worst excesses when they got into power, NOR did they push the lever further to the left. In fact, Clinton had many policies worse than Reagan/Bush (welfare, crime) and Obama had many policies worse than Bush Jr., as has been discussed.

In order to stop the next Trump, not just this one, you must have control of a party to the point that they are forced to roll back the terrible laws and policies of the last 40 years–and not just roll them back, but start pushing the lever even further towards equality, away from oligarchy, and towards civil liberties and widespread prosperity.

If you do not do that, your victory over Trump is temporary. You win against him, but you do not win against what caused him, and what he represents.

The right-wing understands that. The Netroots said “More and better Democrats,” and while it had some successes, it didn’t have enough, because it failed repeatedly at primarying bad actors.

The Tea Party succeeded: They were able to remove enough Republicans they objected so that the ones who remained were scared to cross them. While doing so, they were willing to lose seats, because they understood that Republicans who would not vote for them when the chips were down might as well be Democrats. (This is where the screams about the Supreme Court would be inserted. There is truth to this, but you are now losing it anyway.)

If the Resistance wants to really succeed, to really make the US a better place, it must learn the lesson of those who fought and failed before. If you succeed at getting rid of Trump without changing the trajectory of US economy, foreign policy, and disrespect for civil rights, you have done little more than kick the can down the road.

Changing what Democrats WANT to do, who they want to be, and what sort of country they are actually willing to vote for and work to build, is what matters. Objectively, Obama and Bill Clinton contributed massively to the ills which lead to Trump. That needs to stop. There needs to be a Democratic President who rolls back what has been done, and then moves strongly to the left. Who dismantles the legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for tyranny, and who actually reduces inequality and increases prosperity for all Americans in a clear way they can feel.

Failure to achieve that, and, in tandem, to achieve a Congress which would work with such a president and oppose the inevitable future Republican presidents, will equal failure for the Resistance, no matter how many small successes they have, or even if they are able to remove Trump through impeachment or loss in 2020.

Slowing the rate of the downward spiral the US is on is good. Stopping it from getting worse is better. Reversing it and making it better is best and is necessary for long-term success and long-term security against leaders like Trump.

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Trump’s Muslim Ban

This is what Trump said he’d do, and he’s doing it. While I appreciate politicians keeping their promises, this is something I think is wrong on its merits. I’ll second this suggestion, with respect to the green card holders being denied entry:

I note that if the intention was to punish sponsors of terrorism, the ban should have hit Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which is where the money and the actual 9/11 terrorists mostly came from.

I have long thought that Canada, and many other countries, could easily benefit from American xenophobia. People are an asset, and it is only in sickly nations, economies, and cultures where they are viewed as a liability.

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It Is Better to Be Feared than Loved, if You Cannot Be Both

Contra Machiavelli, I prefer ruling through love, rather than fear.

But, if it can’t be love…


…then fear will do.

For a long, long time, centrist Dems have loathed, despised, and even hated the left-wing part of the Democratic base. (Obama was quite public about this.)

Republican politicians loathe, despise, and even hate their base, too. Be very clear about that. The difference is simple: Democrats weren’t scared of their base and Republicans are (as they should be).

If that’s changing, that’s good news.

Marcotte, of course, is deranged and essentially incapable of reason due to her strong personal identification with Clinton as the avatar of woman. Her understanding of why Sanders was popular and of why Clinton lost are both deficient, and that’s the point. It is precisely those people who cannot be reached through reason who must be reached through emotion; and because they prefer to despise the people, it cannot be love that motivates them.

And so, fear it is.

(Sanders, by the way, appears to be the most popular federal politician in America.)

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Trump Has Not Yet Lied About What Matters Most

In the brief time that Trump has been president, he has ended the Trans Pacific Partnership, moved forward on his border wall, signed various anti-abortion edicts, given notice he will be renegotiating NAFTA, and announced he’ll be banning visitors from six Muslim countries (though he hasn’t signed the bill yet).

In other words, Trump is moving forward on his signature issues. If you watched his rallies, or you read the transcripts, you know what issues he kept banging on about, and that those who voted for him have every reason to believe he cared about those issues.

He is, so far, doing those things. This matters one hundred times more than when he tweets delusional bullshit about inauguration numbers. The people who voted for him will forgive those lies if he keeps his promises to them. And, frankly, that’s how it should be.

Remember that Obama said he’d renegotiate NAFTA. He never did, and we all know he never intended to.

Trump was elected because he didn’t parse like people like Clinton or Obama or Romney: He didn’t parse like a normal politician, who will lie about NAFTA. He parses differently, and therefore as maybe someone who wasn’t lying.

Now, Trump made other promises that matter more than these ones. For instance, not cutting Medicare and Social Security. Replacing Obamacare with something better.

And he made an ur-promise, which amounted to making people who voted for him better off, especially rust-belters.  That’s going to be a hard promise for him to fulfill, because it’s in conflict with certain other things he wants to do (and on which he campaigned), like tax cuts and gutting unions. Those conflicts will mitigate hard against his promise to those who voted for him.

So how truthful Trump proves to be, in the ways that matter, is yet to be seen.

That said, he is keeping the promises that matter. Yes, he lies (or is perhaps delusional) about all sorts of things–from widespread voter fraud (non-existent) to inauguration attendance numbers, but I will straight up state that those lies matter LESS than the usual political lies of intent–of making core promises, and then failing to keep them.

One can cavil that Trump has said many things, but anyone who watched his rallies knows what his real core promises were. Making good on those promises is what he will and should be judged on most.

This is not to say there is no damage from his other lies: I disapprove strongly of lying or living in fantasy-land.  Climate change is real, the inauguration numbers are what they are, there is no voter fraud of any significance, and so on. Lying about these things is bad.

But lying about intent; lying to those who vote for you about what you will do, is, in my opinion, worse. So far Trump has been keeping faith in that respect.

We’ll see if he continues to keep the faith (to do so he will have to fight Congressional Republicans), but do understand that he has–so far. Understand, more, that the repeated lies of normal politicians about what they would do, then failing to deliver, is what made Trump possible, that made people so desperate they would take a flier on someone like Trump. (It’s also what made Brexit possible.)

People were sold lies about how free trade, and austerity, and so on would make them better off, for two generations. Specific promises like that of Obama’s regarding NAFTA were repeatedly broken–and, indeed, were never intended to be kept.

And now we reap what has been sowed.

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The Control of Parties and the Rise and Fall of Ideologies

All political parties have ideological beliefs. If it seems a party does not, it generally means they accept the status quo (invisible as an ideology) or they are a cult of personality, which is still an ideological position.

(Originally published May 19, 2015. Back to the top. This is why the attacks on Sanders are so vicious. – Ian.)

For those who hold an ideological position which does not control the current majority party, the job is to keep a party firmly in an alternative ideology.

In first-past-the-post systems, there are often two or three parties which are viable. In most places with real democracy, parties do not have more than two or three terms, then the public grows tired of them and votes for the second party.

If your ideology controls the second party, odds are strong you will eventually wind up in power, simply due to public fatigue with the current party.

Therefore your job, as a left-winger, right-winger, or whatever, is to keep control of that party. This takes precedence over winning the most immediate election. Winning by becoming a lite version of the other ideology does not serve you. Having the second (or every) party be neo-liberal is not in the interests of anyone but neo-liberals.

If you are the first party, of course, it is your job to make it so that the second party (and however many other parties there are, if possible) accept the postulates of your ideology. As many have noted, Margaret Thatcher was not successful so much because of her policies, but because Labour came to adopt her policies as well, just somewhat watered down.

There is no alternative

– Margaret Thatcher

Now, what was said about second parties is true of third parties and so on, all the way down. The New Democratic Party (socialist, labor-based) came from virtually nowhere in Alberta to win because they still existed. They will be able to raise corporate taxes and so on because they remained true to some socialist principles. Though I have grave disagreements with Syriza, they are in power because they still exist and came out strongly against austerity. They could have watered that down–and they would have been in power sooner.

The Communist Party in Greece, castigated by many for not joining Syriza, was correct not to do so: They did not believe that Syriza would do what was necessary, or what they believed in, so they did not join.

The Liberal Democrats in England killed themselves by joining the Tories as a minority partner. They gave in to almost everything the Conservatives wanted, and, as a result, were seen as “Tory-Lite.” No reason to vote for them.

Let me put this precisely: The job of a political party is either to get a few specific people into power, or it is to offer a clear option to the voters. If it is the latter, then your job is to make sure that this option you offer remains available. In many cases, if you do so, you will get into power fairly soon after two to three terms. In other cases, if you are a minor party, it may take decades.

If you genuinely believe in your policies, in your ideology, or whatever it is, then that is fine. The public has a right to choose, you just make sure they have a real choice and not a menu that lists the same options under different names.

Every ideology fails. Every one. There will always be a point where people are hungry for something else, and you will be there.

Once in power, your job is simply to show that your ideology can work. If you fail to do so, the public is entirely justified in throwing you back out. Of course, an ideology can be badly implemented once, or even twice, but this does not mean it is necessarily flawed. It may just mean it was badly executed or that the circumstances were not right for it to succeed. You will need to evaluate which of these is the case before you dedicate your life to such an ideology and fight to keep your party aligned with that ideology.

An ideology can lose for a long time before it wins. The Greens and the Pirates have won little, but that does not mean they might not be the parties of the future. Old parties can become new parties: Labour was not always neo-liberal; in Canada, the Liberal party under Justin Trudeau is directly opposed to many of the policies of his father in the 70s and early 80s. (The elder Trudeau having introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which Justin had the Liberal party vote to largely abrogate.)

Neo-liberals should fight to keep Labour in England and Liberals in Canada neo-liberal. Those who support other ideologies can fight to change those parties; fight for other parties, or create new parties.

In all cases, again, the job is to provide a clear choice for the population; someone to vote for. (This is why I dislike purely regional parties, though obviously that problem is hard to avoid if your mandate is independence. It is a pity the Scottish Nationalist Party could not have run nationally–perhaps all of Britain should join Scotland.)

Party control, in any case, and in many democracies, and especially one where structures favor having only two or three major parties, is generally more important than winning any individual election. Most anything your opponents do can be undone if you get into power and still believe in undoing it. Again, this is why Thatcher won by changing Labor–because the old Labour party would have just undone virtually everything she did.

What we have had, now, for about 40 years, is a right-ward ratchet: A very right wing party gets in power and does radical things or a moderate neo-liberal party like Labour or the Democrats gets in power and basically accepts the status quo, with very minor rollbacks, and continues the rightward drift in most areas.

Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall, pushed through NAFTA, started the no-fly list, and heavily restricted welfare. Obama ramped up the drone program, went after whistle-blowers far more than Bush ever did, and is, in general terms, far worse on civil liberties than even George W. Bush.

Stopping ratchets means keeping control of the party which will be back in power eventually. This is hard to do, after two consecutive losses, a party will begin to believe it needs to become like its opponents to win. This was true of the Republicans in the 40s as much as it is true of Democrats after Reagan and Bush, Sr. or as much as it was true of Labour after Thatcher and Major.

If you have lost the battle for the second party, then (while maintaining an outpost there for a future takeover attempt), you should find a third party to champion your cause. You will not be able to stop the ratchet effect (left, right, totalitarian, permissive, or whatever). But when the ideology fails, as it will (I guarantee this, it is not in question, only matter of time), then you will have another fair shot at power. You may not succeed, new ideologies may arise to supplant you, or other problems may stymy you, but you will have your shot.

Keep control of parties. If you cannot, create them.

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The CIA vs. Trump

Or, perhaps I should say, the intelligence community vs. Trump.

Let us be clear, the fact that the left is against Trump and that the intelligence community is against Trump should not mean, to anyone with sense, that the CIA, NSA, or any other alphabet soup agency is good, or noble, or our friend.

It just means we have the same enemy.

In World War II, the USSR and the US had the same enemy. After WWII, they almost immediately turned on each other.

If the CIA were to take out Trump, they would immediately go back to attacking left-wingers, as they have for their entire history.

From the POV of the left-wing, the best outcome of the intelligence community/Trump war would be mutual destruction.

And afterwards, salt the goddamn earth. The CIA and NSA are not the friend of any left-wing worth having: They are innately anti-democratic, anti-privacy, and anti-human rights. Secret agencies are anathema to any open government. At an existential level, intelligence agencies are at best a double edged sword, and by their nature, they always wind up serving the interests of the few, against the interests of the people.

The CIA and NSA are a greater long term threat than Trump. Indeed, it is the existence of a turn-key police/surveillance state like them which makes Trump so potentially dangerous. It is a good thing they don’t like him, or he them. But that is not because they believe in “liberty” or “democracy” or “the constitution.” For these agencies to pretend it is so, in the face of their long term actions to subvert all three, is laughable. (The NSA was found out to be spying on its own Congressional oversight committee. It is a rogue organization already.)

By all means, cheer the intelligence community on. But if you’re wise, you’ll be cheering Trump to destroy them at the same time. And you won’t trust either, but especially not the intelligence community, who are likely to be around long after Trump is dead, whether he dies from a convenient sniper on a hill or not.

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Does Trump Get Impeached or Get Two Terms?

One of the more interesting pieces of writing over the weekend was Robert Reich’s report on his meeting with a friend who had been a Republican Congressperson.

I had breakfast recently with a friend who’s a former Republican member of Congress. Here’s what he said:

Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat ego.

Me: Then why didn’t you speak out against him during the campaign?

Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.

Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?

Him (smirking): They’ll play along for a while.

Me: A while?

Him: They’ll get as much as they want – tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare – and blame him. And he’s such a fool he’ll want to take credit for everything.

Me: And then what?

Him (laughing): They like Pence.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.

Me: So what?

Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb – steps over the line – violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way … and you know he will …

Me: They impeach him?

Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.

Now, this lines up with what I’ve heard from other people, and the bit at the start with ” You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.” also aligns with what I’ve said a few times to the derision of some liberals, who don’t really believe violence would happen.

My take is the same, but more succinct. Trump has a base. If he keeps that base happy, the Republicans won’t dare impeach him. Even if you don’t believe there would be violence (I think it’s quite possible), these are the sort of people who would make their congress members lives quite miserable and would definitely primary them, with a good chance of winning.

The problem here is that, for example, that some of the plans floated are insane, and will gut Trump’s support. He can get away with cutting taxes and even reducing mortgage subsidies (though it was stupid of him), but he can’t get away with cutting Medicare or Social Security. He said in the primary that he would never do so, or allow it. If he does, he’s toast, it’s that simple.

People will know if this happens in the sense that they will feel it in their lives. The same is true of the Obamacare repeal: People will know if they’re not getting health care they used to get. (Note I didn’t say insurance, but health care.) If Trump actually replaces Obamacare with something about as good or better, there’s no worries. If it’s repealed and placed with shitty health care savings plans or tax write-offs which don’t actually add up to as much care as even Obamacare offered, people will know.

Trump’s core promise is to make the lives of people who lost from the last 40 years of neoliberal politics better. (He didn’t use those words, but that’s what it amounts to, and that’s how his own base understands it, again, using other words).

If he makes the lives of those in his base better off, he’s golden, and the GOP will show their belly. If he doesn’t, they will turn on him and rip his belly out. It is about that simple.

Trump doesn’t need to be popular with everyone. It doesn’t matter that the women’s march produced more people than his inauguration, despite his squealing about it: It is irrelevant because those people couldn’t produce enough people in the right states to with the election AND, as with previous great protests, nothing appears to have been built on top of the protests. It’s nice they all showed up, but they aren’t being asked (or organized) to do things that matter in the future, for all the talk of “the resistance.” If you wanted power, you’d want to be able to get one-fifth that crowd to show up when needed to oppose specific bills and actions by Congress, for example.

All that Trump needs is to make the lives of the people who voted for him, and a few more, better. If he does, he doesn’t get impeached and gets re-elected, and his deranged screams about how reality is the way he wants it to be (biggest inauguration crowd) are irrelevant.

Trump gets this if he listens to the right people. The more he listens to what people like Pence and Priebus and Rand Paul want, the more likely he is to get impeached quicker. The more he listens to Bannon’s populism in particular, and allows people like Kushner and his daughter Ivana to mitigate the worst cruelty desired by Republicans, the more likely he is to get two terms.

This puts some of the opposition in the odd position of needing him to be maximally cruel and to not help ordinary Americans in the states he won. They need the worst people to win (Kushner, Bannon, and Ivanka are not even close to the worst people in DC).

Trump is immensely flawed. The need to be seen as the bestest, reality be damned, makes it hard for him to always make good decisions. This is not, again, to say he isn’t competent by any useful definition of the word (he shits on a gold toilet, had sex with some of the most beautiful women in the world and became President when almost no one thought he could), but it also doesn’t mean he doesn’t have issues. Not every man or woman who is capable of achieving great things is equal.

Those who want Trump to fail should be careful what they wish for, as well. Pence is a theocrat’s theocrat, and not amenable to influence in the way that Trump is. He’ll parse as a lot less crazy, but his policies won’t necessarily be better and for many, they will be worse.

But bottom line: Trump keeps his base happy or he gets impeached. He delivers a better enough life for people who voted for him or would consider voting for him, or he doesn’t get his second term.

It’s that simple.

Now we will know whether he’ll last within a couple months or sooner. We will be able to tell from his budget, his first series of actions, and whether he allows real cuts to Medicare and SS, and replaces Obamacare with something at least about as good.

All you have to do is evaluate how those things will feel, once they’ve played out. I predicted the shape of Obama’s economy the second I had two pieces of information: his economic team and his stimulus. I wrote in early February of 2009 that his economy would never recover for most Americans, and it pretty much never did (only in 2016 was there an increase in median wages, and employment as a percentage of population never recovered).

Because Trump is potentially changing so much, it will be a little harder to tell, but I still expect it to be entirely clear by the end of March, and quite possibly within a few weeks.

Everything after that will just be playing out what Trump and the Republican Congress have already decided on, and their inevitable effects.

So chill and watch, the future will its shape soon enough, and for quite a few years in advance.

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