Accountability It’s almost time to come in from the playground. Recess is coming to a close. The playground is so much fun because we can do what we want and say what we want. As long as we have enough people on our side we can get away with anything. We can yell and make threats and promises that we expect will be forgotten as soon as recess is over. On the playground might makes right and sometimes creates strange bedfellows. Facts and truth are only useful if they support our endgame, and on the playground the most important endgame is winning. As the bell rings and we all end our play, the responsibilities of reality come out to greet us. What will we do now?
The rhetoric and announcements coming out of the Trump Tower playground for the past several weeks have certainly not been calming. To a great degree they seem to be confirming our gravest concerns. But so far they have taken place in a rarefied environment. All that has occurred has been planning and preparing. Certainly we can draw some conclusions from Trump’s Cabinet and staffing choices. But until the rubber meets the road we really don’t know how it will all play out. Based on the reactions of some Republicans to a number of the Cabinet selections there may well be some dissension in the ranks. While I fully expect all of his Cabinet selections to be confirmed, I believe that some of the hearings will lay bare the existence of some fractures within the party. Those fractures may well provide an opportunity for the Democrats to press the brakes on some of the more concerning potential actions on both the domestic and foreign relations fronts that are coming into view.
While many of us have been greatly concerned by the fact that the Republicans now control both Houses of Congress as well as the White House, it is not the time to raise the white flag. There are two facts that provide me with some hope. First, the Republican Party is not monolithic. It has shown itself to be undisciplined in the past and I believe they will not disappoint us in the future. There are significant differences within the ranks both in ideology and strategy. Ryan and McConnell will have their hands full in their efforts to maintain any kind of party discipline. The second hopeful factor is the tremendous limits the Executive Branch confronts in attempting to move the government bureaucracy in any direction. It is a slow and tedious process made all the more challenging by the fact that Trump is not experienced or knowledgeable. HIs efforts to sidestep normally accepted protocols will be met with resistance. He might get away with it for a time, but the bureaucracy will eventually get its way. While the Trump Administration will open the game with some loud and blustery symbolic acts, the challenge will be for them to put skin on those bones. Their ignorance and arrogance will eventually be their downfall.
While I am confident that Trump’s real achievements will pale beside his bluster and promises, that will only be the case if we help to make it so. The danger we all face in Donald Trump is not only that he doesn’t understand the limits of his power, but that he will seek to ignore them. He will push that envelope as far as we allow. When confronted with the tedium of governance he will become bored and try to do something “huge”. He is a narcissist and will have a tough time understanding that he has limited control over process and policy. He will use every tool at his disposal to grab the spotlight and achieve the self-fulfilling gratification he so yearns. It is up to us, all of us, who care about the future of our country, our children and grandchildren, to monitor his every move and keep him in a box very far away from those levers of power that can harm us.