A mere fortnight since our country chose Donald Trump, and about everything’s been happening, showing that if he were a Dungeons & Dragons monster he’d have a classic “chaotic” alignment. Here are some observations, which should be good for at least a few hours after this post comes out.
First, almost day by day Trump has been walking back his campaign blather, moving him ever closer to what might be his only solid convictions, against immigration, especially if illegal, and for protectionism. The New York Times was actually critical of his changing his mind about things like prosecuting his unsuccessful opponent Hillary Clinton and advocating less torture in suspected terrorists’ interrogations, but we need less of this garbage, not more.
Second, it’s become clear that the modern partisanship split is not conservative against liberal, but Democrat versus Republican. If you’re not sure, notice how few bad things conservative politicians and commentators say about him, even when he advocates ideas to the left of the Democratic platform. That will cause problems if Trump becomes more worthy of impeachment than Bill Clinton was for lying under oath about his sexual affairs, since with both the House and Senate controlled by his party, they probably won’t.
Third, he is on track, if that expression has any meaning when talking about him, to do some good things. We can certainly use what his strategist Steve Bannon called a “trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” if, counter to what Times columnist Paul Krugman claimed in his recent “Build He Won’t,” it will materialize. Arranging for large companies’ money supplies to be held here instead of overseas would be positive, as would tax-code changes favoring American jobs. We can also stand to take some edge off political correctness in general. There is more, but I’m too cautious about him overall to sing his praises, since, after all, Adolf Hitler built hospitals.
Fourth, I’m not looking forward to seeing constant criticism of everything Trump does. Those attacking him should pick their battles, and cut back on snide comments when he only acts the same way he did during his ultimately successful campaign. We have enough to worry about with our constitutional rights, his finger on the button, and his capability for other extreme destruction to fuss about what he said about a Broadway musical. Even if the BBC, which asserted this morning that his early-morning tweets represent “the real Trump,” is correct, that’s not how his presidency will be measured.
Fifth, protectionism, now fashionable for little reason beyond faulty evaluation of solutions for the permanent jobs crisis, will prove objectively destructive. Vastly more Americans are helped by lower-priced foreign products than could ever get jobs making them here, and the amounts of money involved are also enormously greater. If such nutty ideas as 45% tariffs for Chinese and Mexican products came to pass, we would have a recession or worse along with the slashed prosperity, which would more than offset any employment improvement.
Sixth, with that said Trump will come under pressure, to the extent that his own party is willing to apply it, to create jobs. That could take any number of good forms, and we have plenty of reason to be hopeful, even if we’re short of sufficient justification.
Seventh, we will probably see the left-leaning major media, headed by the Times and the Washington Post, become the coordination center for anti-Trump civil disobedience. That has already started, with articles suggesting ways of resisting and protesting.
That’s all for today. I wish I could say more about what Trump will mean for jobs, but about him I feel like the policeman who said he didn’t believe anything he heard and only half of what he saw. He may not even last long in the office, ending up, as columnist David Brooks predicted, gone within a year through impeachment or truly voluntary resignation. In the meantime, the Chinese curse has hit all of us: we are living in interesting times.