BY KRISTEN PRATA BROWDE | It’s time to get real about what’s facing us, and about who the real enemy is. For many, my version of real is going to be more than a little contrarian and, for some, far from popular.
On Facebook and elsewhere I’ve been reading, and largely agreeing with, post after post trashing Don the Con, the Orange Menace. But I’m proposing that we back off on that kind of thinking.
Yes, anyone sentient regards Trump as manifestly unqualified, morally repulsive and, ultimately, an ignorant thug whose only motivation appears to be to siphon off as much money as he can without regard to the methods he uses. (And yes, I know, those are his better attributes.)
But, here’s the problem.
Getting rid of Trump takes us out of the frying pan and places us directly in the flames. And while we need to prepare ourselves for our very own impending global warming, we need to remember that Trump may be all that stands between us and those flames.
As erratic and unstable as Trump has shown himself to be he is, in my view, far more acceptable than a more competent and distinctly more malevolent Mike Pence. And with an utterly unprincipled Republican dominated Congress that is all too willing to ignore the Constitution whenever that document runs afoul of radical right wing Christian dogma, a malevolent leader (Pence) would be far more dangerous than one whose attention span and follow through appear to be approximately equal and at a relatively low level.
Why do I see Pence as a far greater danger than Trump? Trump is what Republicans, until he won their nomination and then the election, called a RINO, Republican in Name Only. His massive government spending and tax plans would violate every conventional Republican precept. First and foremost they would balloon the national debt to unprecedented levels, directly violating conservative principles. One should note, however, that this kind of hypocritical approach didn’t bother the Bush II administration at all, as Cheney’s Haliburton and other firms profited handsomely from unbridled government spending. But $50 billion wall accompanied by tens of billions in weapons spending and military manpower increases?
The Tea Party wing and traditional Republican fiscal hawks can be expected to push back against those headline grabbing Trump initiatives. Their resistance could tie Trump up for some time, especially while Trump focuses on his Twitter wars with Chinese and other international leaders, and tries to bull his way through the trade negotiations he has said are important to him.
Congress isn’t good at doing too many things at once. Trump’s spray of could lead to Republicans batting amongst themselves. Well thought through and executed Democratic party resistance could open a third front in the legislative battles, and that could help blunt the likely attempt at massive social change through legislation that, at least under current Supreme Court precedent, would almost certainly be held to be unconstitutional.
But what about Pence? Some will argue, and not without some merit, that Pence’s hand is behind the appointment of some of the ideologues in Trump’s proposed cabinet. But the better argument is that if Trump is impeached it will make things far worse, not better, because impeachment would result in Pence being elevated to the presidency.
Pence’s agenda is everything anyone LGBTQI or anything but missionary position cis hetero should fear. Pence calls himself a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” While “conservative” is a misnomer – Pence advocates a theocracy that never existed in this country, the specifics of his positions are chilling:
- In 2006 Pence supported a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Pence told one audience: “Societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” Pence also called being gay a choice and said keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination, but an enforcement of “God’s idea.”
- Pence signed an Indiana law allowing business owners to claim religious beliefs as a reason to refuse service to customers they imagined might be gay or lesbian.
- Pence supports the use of public funds for conversion therapy, a discredited and potentially harmful form of anti-gay therapy.
- Pence opposed a law that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace.
- Pence slashed Planned Parenthood funding, arguably contributing to one county’s HIV outbreak.
- As Indiana Governor Pence took $3.5 million way from needy families with children and used the money to counsel women against having abortions.
- Pence refused to comply with Obama administration rules aimed at reducing prison rape.
- Pence said he’d like to “send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history.” Pence signed a bill into law requiring burial or cremation for aborted fetuses.
- Pence has proposed teaching creationism in public schools.
- Pence wrote an op-ed claiming that “smoking doesn’t kill.”
- And Pence is far more skilled as a politician and less likely to make the kind of 140 character blunder for which Trump has become so well known.
- This is not to say that we give Trump a pass. Democrats in the Senate must not allow another ideologue in the mold of Alito, Scalia or Thomas to become a Supreme Court Justice.
But it is to say that, now that it is apparent that Trump and Pence will be inaugurated as President and Vice-President in just under a month, it is time for us to channel the rage and betrayal we feel into useful, directed energy aimed at making a difference; resisting where necessary, protecting where we can, but primarily focusing on reclaiming the future.
Indeed, the only solution, other than somehow escaping from the United States or getting the coasts to declare independence, is to start working today to do two things:
1) We have to make sure that four years from now we’re getting ready to inaugurate someone else, someone whose values are inclusive and whose promise is to undo the damage that will certainly be caused in a Trump administration.
2) Two years from now we have to change the composition of the House of Representatives. It’s unlikely that we’ll make much headway in the Senate, but it’s going to be important to defend where we can and to take back a few seats if possible. Flipping the House would cut short the ugliness that we all see looming not so far ahead.
How do we do that? We can’t wait until the summer of 2018 to start.
We need to start now to identify our strongest potential candidates. We should be doing this even before Trump and his thugs are sworn in. And we can’t just work at the more glamorous national and congressional level.
Republicans now control 68 out 98 chambers of state legislatures – a record high. Here’s the scariest development of this election: Republicans now fully control governments in 33 out of 50 states, only five states short of the number needed to push through amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
That can’t be dismissed as just flyover country. To me that indicates that the Republicans are doing the work that we are not: getting involved at a local level, putting people on school boards, town boards and in positions to move up the political ladder.
We have one huge advantage: among young voters Trump and the Republicans lost in every single state. These younger people have to be motivated, and we have to find the best of them, the ones who care enough about our collective future to get involved and do the hard work of going to meetings and running for positions in the local governments.
These candidates will be our boots on the ground in towns and states across the nation. They’re the ones who will know – and who by their actions will show – that equality in marriage, equality for those of different faiths, for those of different gender expressions, is nothing to fear and everything to welcome and celebrate.
We have to find these candidates and start raising money for them now. In a very few weeks we should be talking to our neighbors about replacing the people who were elected this past, disastrous, election cycle.
And in the meantime we have to take care of one another. It’s not going to be easy, but we can do this if we’re together.