President Donald J. Trump: The words are painful for many of us. This is understandable; his persona is not one that engenders trust and comfort, and we’ve had it easy for eight years. Obama was quietly charismatic and sought bipartisanship; Trump is almost diametrically opposite. So yes, it’s a bit of a shock.
Since the inauguration, Mr. Trump’s opponents both in the media and the political parties — Democrat and Republican alike — have sought to oppose him at every point, unwilling to compromise or even negotiate in most areas. Military scholars will immediately see the historical parallel and the flaw; for the rest of you, suffice it to say that inflexibility almost always defeats itself, and that to try to be strong at every point only spreads you out and weakens you.
There was celebration amid Democrat ranks when the National Security Advisor was required to step down. It was a true victory; General Mike Flynn is extremely bellicose and even paranoid, and his presence in any position of power was quite unsettling — even to many in the Administration. The reason for his dismissal, however, was quite absurd; surely, the last thing we should have been worried about from this hawkish retired general would be his unauthorized peacemongering. That should be food for thought right there, but not many seem to be thinking critically right now.
The opposite was seen with the withdrawal of Pudzer from consideration for Labor. His policies were worrisome, but his personal flaws were simply too much to excuse. In his case, the vetting process functioned properly. But because it brought no great embarrassment for the President, this wasn’t considered major enough to celebrate — even though, in his own way, Pudzer might have been just as dangerous as Flynn.
Right now, there are very public calls for an investigation into A.G. Jeff Sessions over his contact with the Russian ambassador during the Trump campaign. As I’ve detailed elsewhere, this is foolish in the extreme — and yet Democrats and even some Republicans are fervent in their desire to topple this man.
Don’t get me wrong: There are several reasons to dislike Jeff Sessions. His position on the marijuana legalization movement alone should be enough to have opposed his selection for Attorney General. The nation wants to move away from our failed War On Drugs, or at the very least to make this an issue for states and local jurisdictions. And yet, because racism was a more visceral way to oppose his confirmation, that was the chosen avenue of attack — and because it was not provable, because the evidence was weak and subjective, opposition failed.
Donald Trump is not a nice guy; he doesn’t pretend to be. He’s been called incompetent, odious, offensive, racist, sexist — and all of that criticism has simply rolled off him. That fact has served only to further infuriate his opponents, who then redouble their efforts. Ineffectually.
It may seem like the best course of action is to continue to stubbornly resist, to pursue every opportunity to disrupt and oppose. But game theory, especially as shown by the principles of military science, indicate the contrary. Concentrated and properly organized efforts at targeted points can be far more effective in almost every case, and Trump is certainly no exception.
America is tired of politics as usual, of the mudslinging and the infighting over obscure points. More, as attacks on Trump and his people are gradually seen to be incorrect or even untruthful, support for the opposition will decline and his popularity will inevitably improve.
The Administration has several genuine vulnerabilities. Almost all of these are policy, not personal; more to the point, the personal attacks don’t work well. My advice, then, is to shift target to policy, particularly that which can easily be demonstrated to be outdated, irresponsible, downright foolish, and counter to the opinions of experts in the field. Here are a few examples:
- Refugees. We’ve got a bloody huge statue in New York Harbor that shows American values here. Point to it and shout.
- Prisons. We’re the Land Of The Free, but we have a larger prison population than oppressive China — not just per capita, but total. China’s got three times our numbers, and yet we imprison more. The Administration wants to be tough on crime; our present status is an embarrassing confirmation that this doesn’t work.
- Drugs. Colorado legalized pot and regulated it, and they got rich. Social problems decreased, particularly crime. The War On Drugs is over, and we lost; let’s start treating it rationally.
- The Environment. Look, burning coal is filthy and unhealthy, and mining it is worse. It made sense in 1880, but not so much today. If you don’t believe me, just look downstream or downwind to where agriculture and fisheries and tourism all suffer. That you choke Bambi is bad, but killing more jobs than you make at the same time is inexcusable.
Remember: Trump is brilliant at this sort of infighting. He’ll try to distract by bringing up places where present policy is flawed. Healthcare is the perfect example; it’s a horrifically complex problem, and as a society we’re not yet ready for the most efficient solutions. Once we get mired in that debate, action elsewhere will become impracticable. So don’t go there; instead, focus on the fights you can win. I’ve named four; there are others.
Above all, fight honestly. In the end, that’s the only way you can win. It’s the only way America can win.
And we all want that. Right?
(Note: The writer would like to acknowledge a debt to Michael Tracey’s recent article at TYT on Medium.com. While this is not a new topic for me, some of his arguments are compelling enough that they convinced me. You might read the original at the above link.)
For further reading on these subjects, click the associated link:
Prisons and Drugs: https://gnerphk.wordpress.com/2016/06/16/stop-the-war-on-drugs/
The Environment: https://gnerphk.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/the-clean-water-act-part-one/