It is still surreal to type the words “President Donald Trump,” yet that is precisely the world we now live in. Though I still have many concerns about what President Trump will do over the next four years, one of those confirmed with his execution of drone bombings in Yemen Sunday night, I am feeling increasingly confident that my greatest fear is unwarranted: that he will be boring.
While this concern may seem absurd given the fact he turned “political theatre” into the greatest show on Earth (perhaps this played a role in th ne Ringling Brothers closing up shop?), as someone who went to work for the new Republican majority following the Tea Party takeover, I have seen firsthand how Washington D.C. can tame most rebel rousers. Luckily three bits of television programming this past weekend have given me hope that the Donald can do what so many would-be populist champions have failed to do in the past: inflict real damage on the political status quo.
The first example was, of course, the grand spectacle itself: the inauguration. While it was nauseating hearing one talking head after another talk about how the government’s obscene ceremony is a sacred demonstration celebrating the holiness of democracy, witnessing the new President insult the political establishment at their own party was almost worth the event’s $100 million price tag.
His speech far exceeded all expectations. Should civilizations fortunes be favorable, we will see these five sentences are carved in marble:
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost….The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment.
While the talk would devolve later into some of Trump’s more unsavory views on trade, the idea of “transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you, the people” is something every libertarian should cheer.
I was not surprised to later learn that Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller wrote the script, as every word of it was saturated in the conservative populism Bannon has championed. This continues to be a welcomed phenomenon. While Bannon is not a libertarian, his world view – as he articulated during a speech at the Vatican in 2014 – is a refreshing break from the various shades of progressivism that have dominated both political parties for far too long. Trump’s administrative structuring will have Bannon and Reince Priebus competing for the agenda, so I hope we can view the fact his first words as President came from Bannon’s pen as a sign of who has the early upper hand for.
Of course, it is easy to have grand aspirations, but it’s quite another to be able to put them into practice. Can Trump get his agenda through Washington? While it’s true that gridlock is almost always preferable to anything actually getting done in the beltway, it’s not particularly entertaining.
Luckily CNBC decided to run a marathon of Celebrity Apprentice episodes in honor of the inauguration. The show was always a great guilty pleasure of mine, a delightful exhibition in what makes reality television both so ridiculous and captivating.
While Trump’s original Apprentice, which involved aspiring MBAs competing against each other, was far more interesting in terms of seeing what Trump looked for in professionals, I think the Celebrity edition offers a particularly unique insight into how Trump can manage Washington. After all, the show required Trump having to manage the delicate egos of “celebrities” (who were often delusional in their significance) while deciding who cut gets, without losing sight of his main goal (to generate ratings).
This is exactly the sort of skill set that will serve him well in dealing with politicians.
While there will be much Trump will be able to do on his own, unless the legislative branch decides to actively reign in the presidency – which would be a great victory in itself – he is going to need allies to advance some of his greater objectives. Anyone who doubts Trump’s art of the deal will carry over to DC hasn’t seen the man handle a board room with Piers Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Omarosa.
Of course, it’s very possible – if not likely – that rather than Trump applying his unique skill set to push through a Bannon-ite populist agenda through Washington, he will end up continuing the traditions of presidents past: lie to the public, bankrupt the country, and kill people across the world.
While I hope that a failure for Trump to live up to his promises will finally get average, working class voters to abandon the idea of political saviors, the past leaves me skeptical. Luckily, social media is allowing us to watch the left to devolve into the repulsive, uncivilized, freak show its ideology always leads to in real-time.
The scenes from the protests on inauguration day, where grown children waving anarco-communist flags burned cars, broke windows, and violently attacked political enemies is a vulgar, but honest, illustration of the far left today. While the Women’s March the following day was by all reports more peaceful (and ideologically diverse), the displays captured by Jim Bovard and others show how much of today’s radical left can’t help but let their freak flag show – even among respectable company.
Though CNN and others in the media did a great job of portraying the event as a “grassroots” demonstration of serious individuals, they will have a hard time keeping up this façade as these Soros-funded organizations continue their protests over the next several years.
Bottom line, should nothing in government or the general perception of it change post-Trump, the left’s own behavior is likely to not only alienate the very Democratic work class voters that gave Trump the White House, but will test the loyalty of the Hispanic and black communities who were always against even moderate progressive causes such as gay marriage. To that extent, as was the case throughout most of the campaign, the most promising part of the Trump Administration may be its enemies rather own virtues.
While there’s no reason to think country wide demonstrates will make these communities line up peacefully behind the GOP, hopefully we will continue to witness a fracturing of the dependable Democratic coalition, undercutting the political power of the radical progressive agenda. After all, Hillary may have been able to win the popular vote in November, but there is a much small constituency for those who proudly cheer on riots, violence, and genitalia-themed headgear.
The result of all this? Who knows!
Only one thing is certain: it won’t be boring.