Hypothetical questions can make you think. Would you marry a dickhead if he was handsome and rich? Would you marry an airhead if she were a knockout? Would you give up five IQ points for a million dollars? These sorts of questions may be a bit simplistic and silly, but they are often clarifying and sometimes translate to high ratings TV. This week’s question is would you still hate Trump if he supported your agenda?
This question tends to get harder the more you think about it. Until now, center-left America hasn’t had to deal with anything quite like it. Instead, we’ve been on judgment cruise control looking at Trump’s vile tweets, misogynist admissions, likely collusion with Russia, despicable equivocation on white supremacists, and knee-jerk support for a vast array of reactionary policies and found the cumulative effect to be a category five Hurricane Donald. But what happens when Hurricane Donald is downgraded to a tropical storm which may just solve a drought?
Part of the difficulty for the center-left in addressing this question coherently is that it requires looking inward at a time when it’s much more gratifying to look outward. The visible frustration of Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and almost half the House is almost enough to kick the Zoloft, toss the Viagra and start working the Bowflex again. The day Ann Coulter has an aneurysm I’m donating half my assets to the Salvation Army.
By their own admission, most people across redneck America don’t really like Donald Trump personally but could hardly care less for two reasons—one, they agree with his right wing agenda, and two, their president hates the same people they hate. How sweet it is for us to watch them discover the truth—that one, Donald Trump has no real agenda, and two, Donald Trump hates being hated. For the victim it’s a moment of debilitating recalibration right up there with when you find your wife and best friend in bed or when Clark Kent shows up to the newsroom with a cape sticking out of his shirt. Of course, this kind of political shock treatment couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.
The question for the center-left is basically this—are we little more than a crude mirror image of the Trumpsters who ten months ago threw the country into a meat grinder? How hard can we hold our collective nose? What if Trump plays golf with David Duke in the morning and issues an executive order restoring DACA in the afternoon? What if Trump tweets that World War II featured violations of sovereignty and human rights on many sides and minutes later funds a high-speed rail line connecting Pittsburg and Chicago? What if Trump shoots someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and then proposes federal refinancing of all outstanding student loans at zero interest?
Would we be willing to take the good with the bad? Overlook the foibles? See the forest for the trees? Sell out? Cut some slack? The answer is yes. Or no. Or maybe.
Right now Donald is having fun with Chuck and Nancy. And so are we. We are in the honeymoon phase of messing with Rush Limbaugh’s fat head. And it really didn’t take all that much. Accepting the Dreamers is the far right’s worst nightmare. Funding the government is against their religious beliefs. Scaling down the wall is something they can’t seem to get over.
The far right is getting kicked off the island in this week’s episode of the reality show known as Mr. Trump Goes to Washington. They didn’t do their homework assignment earlier in the season. If they did, they would have known that back in the wild 80s and 90s Donald Trump was a political chameleon cutting deals on both sides of the aisle in New York just to erect another tower. Today the right is feeling sold out even though being sold out was written into the show’s Bible when they were filming the pilot.
The biggest irony is that this is the way our government was designed to work. There were always supposed to be coalitions, compromises, deals, strange bedfellows, and a downright unseemly ménage-a-trois or two. The national reaction to this simple political maneuver is shock and awe, because when you haven’t seen dry land for 20 years it looks like a mirage.
The truth is, no one knows exactly where Season One is headed. Not Trump, not the GOP, and not the Dems. But the ratings are up, so we must be doing something right.
Rich Herschlag is well into his third decade as an author, consulting engineer, husband and father and is very tired.