Enough. It has been over two months since that awful Tuesday in November, and that’s enough.
The time has come for the liberals, the progressives, the middle-of-the-roaders, the independents, the never-Trump faction, the anybody-but-Trump crowd, the Hillary believers, the Bernie supporters, and all their fellow travelers and hangers-on who have been wringing their hands in disbelief and wallowing in their grief, to put away their mourning clothes, take down the black crepe and the shrouds from their mirrors, throw out the lilies and funeral wreaths, and settle down to business.
Stop the incessant search to find and place blame. Quit being mad at history and the arcane Constitutional rules we have lived with for over 225 years. Give up feeling sorry for everybody and everything, as though the country did not do this to itself. The continuous re-examinations of trivial details, the incessant searching about for someone or something to blame, the collection and passing around of sarcastic memes and petty examples of Trump’s atrocious behavior, all may be cathartic, and certainly we must learn from past mistakes, but there comes a time when much of it is no longer productive.
When we have become stuck in the ruts, when we are not opening up anything new but just working the ruts deeper, when the eyes begin to glaze on those pretending to listen, or worse, when they roll – its time to reassess. The first law of holes says when you realize you are in one, stop digging. Take the time to take a hard look at reality, place the circumstances into perspective, accept the inevitable, and then shift gears and get to work on new or different steps that might help.
None of this means that anyone should accept without question or comment anything that Trump or the Republican Congress plans to propose. To the contrary, everything that has come out of the Trump crowd, and all propositions from the leadership of the new Congress, clearly indicate difficult times ahead in both foreign and domestic policy.
There is much to be done as the new Republican era unfolds. There is still a significant Democratic presence in the Senate, and history has long established that when one party controls everything, discipline within that party becomes much more difficult. It is not certain that the Republicans will be able to run roughshod over everything sacred to the progressive interests. History teaches that cracks will appear in the majority party structure, and factions will begin to erupt. This means that the more controversial changes will arrive more slowly than expected, and might even become derailed.
One early hint that the Republicans may not always speak with one voice was the sudden u-turn by the House on its very first day over what was intended to be a new rule on ethics enforcement. The hard-right cabal of the Republican caucus thought it could ram-rod through a measure that had some uneven support within the party. They were caught short by reversals within the party, no doubt helped by a one-line tweet from Trump. The combination effectively knee-capped the effort, and the rule change was taken off calendar before the Speaker gaveled the new Congress to order.
Of more significance are the grumblings that are beginning to surface from a number of Republicans – and from Trump – dissatisfied with the plan to repeal Obamacare without having the promised replacement ready to go. While it is premature to hold out much hope, signs are beginning to appear that any transition away from essential parts of Obamacare is not going to happen for years – if ever.
Informed, relevant, consistent and loud comment against future protestations of President Trump and his Congress from opposition interests can be a valuable contribution to help ensure that Trumps’ stuff will not necessarily happen easily, or some of it even at all. Where something does happen over a solid drumbeat of contrary opinion, it might take considerably more time and require considerably more political capital, both on the part of Trump and the members of Congress to bring it off, and the final enactments may bear very little resemblance to the original grandiose promises made by Trump during the campaign. One cannot expect miracles or any complete turn-arounds, but the actual arrival of what some consider the worst of these promised actions may not be anywhere near as bad as it might appear from the inception, if the opposition is carefully organized.
If those opposed to these Republican measures will keep their wits about them, impose some degree of selectivity in their reactions, take much better aim for arguments and counter measures being suggested, and impose upon themselves much tighter organization for the effort required, much will be gained in the immediate effects on Congress. But continuing to replay the November catastrophe, and beating everybody up over the gory remains is not the way to advance constructive and protective criticism against the onslaught of new Republican programs down the road.
While traditional opposition is in the form of media commentary and direct communication with members of Congress, the internet is now playing a much more central role. Trump is demonstrating the power to be found in Twitter accounts. By liking, sharing and republishing items on Facebook, Twitter and the like, waves of demonstrated interest can be created that present a powerful picture of opinion-formation among us all.
In the longer run, the mid-terms are less than two years off, and the next presidential is less than four. The entire political climate can begin to change with the mid-terms, and certainly with the next presidential in 2020. Any change is going to demand planning and preparation, and the time to start is now.
The Republicans presently in Congress are already beginning to campaign for the mid-terms. If the Democratic machinery is not started right now to raise money, recruit candidates, and shape the process for the future, the party will find itself hopelessly behind the Republicans in those districts where the Democrats might have a chance of becoming competitive.
The same can be said for the Presidential race in 2020. There is not an obvious Democratic front runner yet. There is no machinery to assist in the selection and vetting of acceptable candidates. There is not even a credible list of potential wanna-bes. (This is not to say that there are not any number of lists floating around; everybody inside the beltway has a list, all one has to do is ask – but this is the same as no list at all.) If the Democrats wait until the spring of 2019 to begin their serious efforts for candidate selection, they will be almost three years’ behind the Republicans’ campaign to keep the White House for themselves. The battle lines are already forming for the contests in 2018, and the main event in 2020 will be here anon.
If the Democrats do not get themselves organized in a timely manner, and do not begin pulling together on some of these critical issues, the arrogant pretender may well be held in place for a full eight years. As President Obama told us all in his going-home address from Chicago:
Don’t whine, don’t cry and don’t blame – go find a clipboard and get busy.