Thursday, January 12, 2017

What Comes Next

So now we are mere days away from the failed Trump Administration coming to power in the United States.

It’s rare for a presidential administration to be considered a failure before the lead guy actually takes the oath of office, but with that “never say never” attitude that the modern GOP has taken toward sinking to new lows of corruption and authoritarianism, this one has achieved it.  You almost want to congratulate them for such an unusual accomplishment, until you realize that this is going to be the only president we’ve got and he’s a clown – a petulant, vindictive, aggressively ignorant and grotesquely unqualified vulgarian propped up by foreign influence and bad debt and supported by a Congress so utterly contemptuous of the American people and the Constitution that the Founding Fathers should rise up from their graves and declare the whole experiment in self-government a failure.

They always knew it wouldn’t last.  They just didn’t know how long it would take to fall apart.  Now we know.

Given this rather dire situation, the thinking American may wonder what is in store for them in the coming months.  Wonder no more, good citizen!  The answer is already there, waiting for you to see it.  All you need to look at is the suit-wearing empty hole that is the incoming Chief Executive and the sad fate of three once-proud states now owned by the GOP: North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Kansas.

The first thing you have to understand is perhaps the most obvious to anybody who has been paying attention to the drain-spiraling moral bankruptcy that is Donald Trump: he’s not the one who is going to be in charge.

Oh, he’s going to be the president.  Barring some unforeseen opportunity to make money by doing something else that day, he’ll be inaugurated at the appointed time and then he’ll live at least part time in the White House while spending the rest of his time somewhere with more gold plating than the American taxpayers have so far been willing to provide their leaders.  It will be his name on the business cards, and I’m sure he’ll have a great deal of fun yelling at the servants the way insecure bullies with money tend to do in order to reassure themselves that they are somehow important. 

But the man has no grasp of policy, no understanding of administration, no clue about the Constitution, no conception of global realities, and no desire or ability to remedy any these shortcomings.  He’ll continue to make outrageous statements (is there no grown-up in the Republican Party who can take away his Twitter account?  No?  Anyone?  Hello?  Is this thing on?) and juke and jive past the growing hailstorm of evidence surrounding his impeachable offenses, and once in a while he may accidentally accomplish something, though whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends entirely on your capacity for morbid humor.

He simply has no aptitude for or interest in the job, and if he manages to stay in office through the first twelve months without getting impeached or removed under the 25th Amendment (or simply exploding in a stress-induced fit of coronary fireworks – the man is overweight and nearly 70, after all) it will be as a figurehead, there for the trappings of power but not the hard work of actually exercising it.

That means the ball is in Congress’ court, which effectively means Mitch McConnell – the single most malignant person in Washington, up to and including actual serial killers – or Paul Ryan, who is in way over his head but who has managed not to be stabbed in the back by any of the warring factions in his party yet so credit where due.  Assuming they remember how to do their jobs – a big if, given the taxpayer-funded 8-year vacation the GOP members of Congress took under Obama – it is these people who will actually be wielding the power.

And if that doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

The first lesson you should draw comes from North Carolina, and Wisconsin.  Neither of these states is a functioning democracy or well-run republic anymore thanks to the modern Republican commitment to absolute power at any cost.

Based on their actions over the last few years, it is clear that the Republican Party believes that rules are for other people and that there are no means so vile or anti-American that they do not justify the end of continued power for the right wing and cannot be sold as patriotism to the gawping mass of their base.

They’re not wrong on that last point, anyway.

It’s not an accident that the very first thing the new Republican Congress did this year – the VERY FIRST THING – was to gut the ethics oversight committee that was put in place to keep them from pillaging the place and installing themselves as tyrants and overlords.  Is it even possible for an action to be more emblematic of the larger whole than that?  If you saw that in a movie you’d laugh at the amateurish heavy-handed symbolism of it, but this is what these highly paid professional politicians actually did.  They retreated a bit from that briefly, thanks to public pressure, but under cover of night they have since gone back on that retreat and continued their descent into immorality and absolutism.

Those of us in Wisconsin are familiar with this pattern.  This is a state that was taken over by the GOP years ago.  It’s a state where the legislature, when confronted with photographic proof of their illegal actions, puts paper over the windows so they can’t be photographed again.  Where the Attorney General put up a poll question to see if he should act on obvious criminal violations rather than do his job when that job involves prosecuting members of his own party.  Where legislative votes are held with no public notice, in violation of state law, without bothering to inform anyone (and certainly not the citizens of this state) of what is being voted upon until afterward.  Where elections are decided by partisan officials “discovering” votes on their unsecured and unsanctioned personal computers and adding them to the official count.  Where nonpartisan watchdog agencies get destroyed if they try to do their job.  Where any impediment to the unfettered power of the GOP is targeted for obliteration.

In North Carolina, which has largely followed the same pattern of absolutism with an added layer of naked bigotry thrown in for good measure, the legislature even went so far as to try to strip the governor of power once it became clear that the GOP had lost that office, because they certainly can’t be bothered to abide by the will of the American people.  This is a state whose gerrymandering is quite possibly worse than Wisconsin’s (currently the subject of a Supreme Court case for making such an explicit mockery of the electoral process) and whose voter suppression act targeted those not fully drinking the GOP Kool-Aid with “surgical precision” in the words of the federal judge who ruled on it.

North Korea thinks Wisconsin and North Carolina need to ease up on the whole “one party dictatorship” thing.

And it’s coming to the federal government.  Look for fairly straightforward – arrogantly brazen, really, since they know nobody can stop them and their base will obediently fall in line rather than try to think for themselves – attempts to deny the vote to anyone who won’t vote for the GOP, to strip all enforcement powers from any oversight bodies that exist to tell the GOP that it has to obey the law and the Constitution (up to and including the Supreme Court), and to entrench the extreme right wing in power for generations after they have lost any shred of legitimacy.

They may succeed in these attempts. 

The second lesson comes mostly from Wisconsin, and this one is tactical.  When Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) came to power in 2011, he immediately unleashed an avalanche of regressive, punitive, and radically extremist right-wing ideological legislation on an unsuspecting state, one that had nothing whatsoever to do with anything he had campaigned on (and in some cases was explicitly opposed to his campaign promises) and this will be the pattern the GOP will follow in the days after Trump’s inauguration.  Hell, they’re already trying to do this with the confirmation hearings for the compromised and incompetent sycophants Trump wants in his Cabinet. 

Consider that an omen of things to come.

There will be a rush to pass legislation such as this nation has never seen, the purpose of which will be to overwhelm any opposition and destroy it.  Bill will follow bill, without hearings, without public notice, without time for debate, without any of the civilized marks of governance demanded by American democracy.  They will work to ram it down the throats of the American people before any response can be made and while they are at the flood tide of their power.  The irony of this, after eight years of radical GOP obstructionism and Congressional inaction on the taxpayer’s dime, is considerable, but then these are not people susceptible to irony.

They will not stop until anyone not conforming to the official party line is brought to heel.  It will be a torrent of law designed to bewilder and bury.

They will call this “freedom.”  Their base will buy it, hook, line, and sinker.  That base will get angry when the actual nature of things is pointed out to them. 

There will be trollage.

And if you want to see where all this leads, you have only to look at Kansas.

Kansas has been in the thrall of the radical right wing ever since Sam Brownback – one of only two governors in the US more extremist than our own Governor Teabagger (hi there, Governor LePage! sorry Governor Christie – try harder next time) – came to power.  It has become a laboratory of far right wing policies.  And it has been a dismal and shockingly obvious failure.

The economy has tanked, to the point where even Republicans are starting to notice.  The state has a budget deficit that is new, enormous, and growing, and Brownback is running out of accounting tricks to make people forget this, which is why he has resorted to simply not reporting it at all. 

The school system is in such disarray that it may have to shut down, which may have been the point all along.  Education just makes the peasants uppity, after all, and from a statistical perspective educated people tend not to vote Republican anyway.  Rather than adjust their policies to appeal to people with critical thinking skills and actual knowledge the GOP has been working to get rid of education for more than a decade now, and they are succeeding.  Brownback and his minions have also explicitly threatened to destroy the state judiciary if they disagree with his diktats, particularly those regarding the dismantling of the education system, which is a clear violation of the Constitution that so far has not resulted in the appropriate jail time because “freedom.” 

Standard & Poor’s has put Kansas bonds on watch as untrustworthy so Brownback isn't even making money for the 1% that owns the GOP, which strikes me as being a rather unfit little lackey.  Their roads are crumbling and there is no money to fix them.  It is losing jobs even as states around them grow. 

It is, in other words, a dumpster fire of a state – a condition entirely attributable to the policies enacted by the radical GOP junta running the place.

Guess what policies Brownback is now urging Trump and the GOP Congress to replicate?  Go on – I’ll give you three guesses.

First two don’t count.

Given the hermetically sealed ideological bubble in which the GOP operates these days, where hard evidence is considered disposable if it conflicts with deeply held fantasies, we all may well enjoy the Kansas Miracle in our own states fairly soon.

So there you have it – the crystal ball of suck, there for those who are willing to see it.

Of course I could be wrong.  Perhaps doing the same thing repeatedly will, finally, this time of all times, produce different results, and the much-touted magic of supply-side economics and austerity imposed on a demand-side economy will make everything better, the GOP will develop a moral conscience and a new commitment to democracy, and there will be hosannas throughout the land.

I’ll let you know if that happens.


LucyInDisguise said...

The very first time you posted the "Governor Teabagger (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries)" thingy I giggled for an hour. Over the years I, too, have learned to weep with you.

However ... the thought of four years of seeing this:

“Trump ... (a) petulant, vindictive, aggressively ignorant and grotesquely unqualified vulgarian propped up by foreign influence and bad debt and supported by a Congress so utterly contemptuous of the American people and the Constitution that the Founding Fathers should rise up from their graves and declare the whole experiment in self-government a failure.”

Warms my heart. (Not necessarily in the traditional meaning of that phrase, you understand.)

You, sire, are a Wordsmith Extraordinaire.

I doff my chapeau.

Or something.


David said...

Thanks, Lucy!

I appreciate it. :)