the case for optimism


  1. As we have learned over the past eight years, the presidential power is limited. You’re thinking: yes, but the prime concern of congress during Obama’s tenure was thwarting him, Trump has both houses. He doesn’t, though–Trump isn’t really a Republican, he’s an opportunist, and Republican congressmen know that. Though we have watched legislators on both sides prioritize partisanship over the interests of their constituents for many years, it only takes a few dissenters.
  2. Bad enough for change. We tend to swing back and forth, left and right, in 4 or 8 year cycles, but we rarely see substantive, structural change in governance. It has been clear for many years that congress is not able to effectively carry out its mandate: that our system for making laws is broken and that legislation is driven not by what is in the best interests of the country but by what is in the best interests of the legislators, specifically, pandering to lobbyists and political alliances. It is also clear that the electoral college does not do what it was designed to do (which is to prevent a person like Trump from coming to power) and has a drastically perverting effect on how we elect the president. However, these processes and many others are left alone, because although everyone knows they don’t work, they work well enough. But the time may have come to not leave well enough alone.
  3. Trump is not a politician, and is therefore not beholden to political alliances. He ran specifically on this platform, and though most of his ideas are horrendous, there may be a couple good ones that only someone not beholden to political alliances has the courage to execute. There are some sensible proposals here.
  4. Activating the apathetic. Huge numbers of formerly comfortable, non-activist liberals have become activists in the past few months. Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime and it’s really exciting. Liberals have mostly stood by and watched while the republican party has moved from a wrong-headed but defensible conservative agenda to a vile conglomerate of single issue voters. For years, democrats have been annoying to republicans but republicans are not annoying to democrats, republicans are repulsive to democrats. This is because a vote for a republican candidate is almost always a vote for what is thought to be best for the individual–usually a republican vote is a vote for fuck everyone else I want more money in my wallet, but sometimes is a vote for guns or a vote for legislation based on christian values or a vote for the submission of palestinians. Conversely, a vote for a democratic candidate is almost always a vote for what is thought to be best for the group. So many of us who vote left are not annoyed by the right, we are disgusted by the right. But instead of organizing, we have mostly retreated to liberal enclaves (both geographically and in the media we consume), so that we don’t have to engage with the right wing, so that we can basically ignore them. We haven’t been disgusted enough to organize, and Trump has changed that. And this might turn out to be his greatest gift to the country, this might be the good fortune buried in bad.




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