A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pray for the best, plan for the worst

Bill Knight column for Mon., Tues. or Wed., Nov. 14, 15 or 16

Since Donald Trump didn’t win as many votes as Hillary Clinton, it’s understandable that some Americans consider last week’s balloting for President an “electile dysfunction,” as an old college roommate put it. But Trump is President-Elect; that’s reality.

The hand-wringing “coulda-woulda-shoulda” will continue for the foreseeable future. It’s tempting to play the Blame Game – trying to find fault with the once-and-future victims of Election 2016, whether Clinton, Muslims, the primary process, LGBTQ Americans, the Democratic Party, the climate, the news media, the FBI, undocumented immigrants, WikiLeaks or the white workers without college degrees who became Trump’s key support. But that’s not productive.

Instead, everyone should anticipate the challenges ahead and plan accordingly.

There’s merit to criticism of Clinton – her emails and record as a foreign-policy hawk and status as part of the Establishment; her coziness with Wall Street and, mostly, failure to attract enough African Americans, Hispanic Americans or young Americans to turn out to overcome Trump’s appeal. Trump got 2 million fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2012; Clinton got 7 million fewer votes than Obama that year.

Future campaigns might learn this lesson: Don’t take supporters for granted.

Clinton was a qualified, competent candidate with years of admirable service and achievements, plus an unbelievable level of endurance to withstand more than 20 years of accusations, often conjured by Republican and the Right Wing. “So?” millions seemed to say.

At least, as I wrote in September, “Trump did manage to expose the idea that the economic system no longer serves everyday people. After all, neither major political party has really advocated for meaningful policies to help workers. Manufacturing is gutted from 20 years ago, and the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership promises more of the same shutdown regrets. It’s been bipartisan treachery, barely disguised by Republicans’ discredited trickle-down economics or Democrats’ agonizing pleas for patience.”

Again, there will be time for a better understanding. For now, as Trump’s Jan. 20 Inauguration looms, Americans should prepare for his power plays. Trump has pledged on his first day in office to repeal the Affordable Care Act, name China as a “currency manipulator,” and announce the United States’ withdrawal from trade pacts or their renegotiation. The consequences could range from higher inflation and a recession to a global trade war and increased joblessness.

During the long campaign, Trump also pledged to deport millions of people, resume torturing terror suspects, empower a special prosecutor to try to jail Clinton, sue women who’ve accused him of sexual assault, revoke the treaty that limits Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, and Trump may back off those promises – or his threats to impose a 35-percent tariff on imports from Mexico and a 45-percent tariff on Chinese goods, legalize firearms in schools, cancelling payments to climate-change programs, drastically change the country’s NATO obligations, audit the Federal Reserve Board, and attempt to disqualify a federal judge scheduled to preside over a fraud lawsuit concerning Trump University starting Nov. 28 because the Indiana-born judge has a Mexican heritage.

Broader threats include Trump appointing one or two Supreme Court Justices, hiring white supremacists as advisers, implying that dissent or even opposition is treasonous, making it easier to sue journalists who report unpopular facts or inconvenient opinions, or not respecting (or following) ordinary decency or the extraordinary U.S. Constitution to such an extent it jeopardizes democratic constitutional governance.

The day after the election, Trump’s speech celebrating his victory was conciliatory, but is reconciliation likely with someone who’s exploited division in the GOP, much less the nation?

In his book “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown,” the Pew Research Center’s Paul Taylor said, “These days Democrats and Republicans no longer stop at disagreeing with each other’s ideas. Many in each party deny the other’s facts, disapprove of each other’s lifestyles, avoid each other’s neighborhoods, impugn each other’s motives, doubt each other’s patriotism, can’t stomach each other’s news sources, and bring different value systems to such core social institutions as religion, marriage and parenthood. It’s as if they belong not to rival parties but alien tribes.”

Given such a divide, a genuine mass movement is needed, a stronger coalition that includes all marginalized Americans, from women coping with sexual and financial injustice, to whites without college degrees who feel neglected. To accept that profound regression, or repression, could become a self-fulfilling prophecy that jeopardizes progress for decades, or the planet in a few years.

[PICTURED: Illustration from the United Steelworkers.]

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