The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Four Constituencies

In my last few posts (here and here), I've referred to the "four constituencies" that are working tirelessly to conduct a quasi-coup of a democratically-elected president. To reprise my first use of the term:
Over the first 140-plus days of his presidency, Donald Trump has been under vicious, unrelenting attack from: (1) Democrats who seeth over his upset victory and his un-PC, uncouth persona; (2) the Republican elites who are angry that he humiliated, insulted, and ultimately beat their chosen candidates; (3) the so-called "deep state"—government employees who are more than a little threatened when a politician has the guts to suggest that the swamp of mismanagement, waste, and corruption they have created might need to be drained, and of course, (4) a mainstream media whose left-leaning bias is so palpable that they truly have become what Glen Reynolds calls "Democratic operatives with bylines."

These four constituencies tell us that their attacks on Trump are driven by alarm over the Russian connection—the unhinged, evidence-free meme that Trump and/or his people worked with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. If nothing else, these past 140-plus days demonstrate the infamous statement of Nazi-propagandist Joseph Goebbels—"a lie repeated enough times becomes the truth." At this point, I have no doubt that countless members of each of the four constituencies actually believes the meme and becomes more hysterical about it with each passing day.
Let's consider each constituency in a little more detail:

The Media. Left wing writers have the unmitigated gall to suggest that the media is not biased to the left. Heatstreet reports on a recent study at Harvard University (certainly not a bastion of conservative thought):
A major new study out of Harvard University has revealed the true extent of the mainstream media’s bias against Donald Trump.

Academics at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy analyzed coverage from Trump’s first 100 days in office across 10 major TV and print outlets.

It found that the tone of some outlets was negative in as many as 98% of reports, significantly more hostile than the first 100 days of the three previous administrations.
98 percent! That the media is an adjunct to the Democratic party is a given. That it is virulently anti-Trump is a fact. But here's the thing—there's no point in Trump continuously lamenting the media's animus. Better to consider it a constraint, to moderate and limit his words to give them less to pick apart; to uncover leakers and, when appropriate, prosecute them, and to avoid any comment on the on-going Special Counsel investigation. When the media becomes particularly vicious or biased (a frequent occurrence), they should be called out, but not by Trump himself).

The Deep State. There's a reason why zip codes in VA and MD are among the wealthiest in the nation. The deep state feeds the "beltway bandits" with billions of taxpayer dollars for what are often unnecessary and wasteful projects. When members of the deep state leave government, they double-dip with oerly generous pensions and then transition directly into the beltway bandit world and become rich themselves. When Trump says he wants to "drain the swamp," he threatens the gravy train, not to mention individual power centers and influence. He's a threat, and the deep state reacts by (1) leaking and/or (2) sabotaging lawful policies and orders that come from the administration.

The administration should work to remove known partisans by firing them (not easy) or 'promoting' them into dead end jobs where they have no access to information and can do no damage. I know that's wasteful, but there is no choice.

The Republican Elites. Donald Trump stupidly burned a lot of bridges and wounded a lot of fragile (and big) egos during the GOP primaries. He also represents much of the same threat to GOP (and Democrat) elites as he does to the deep state. The reaction of GOP elites to Trump is passive–aggressive. In this case, couples counseling is in order. Trump must react out, give a little (or maybe a lot); let the fragile egos (think McCain, Graham, etc.) know that he will give them sway over some policy directions and legislation. It will not be easy, but keeping his enemies close is the only rational approach.

The Democrats. Because they lost an election they were certain they would win, the Dems have become unhinged. There is nothing—nothing—that Trump can do to assuage their rage or their obsession with destroying his presidency. They should therefore be given no input into governance, and their continuous obstruction should be taken as a constraint, not as an insult. In a book I wrote on technology transition many years ago, I said this (paraphrasing):
"A transition to a new way of doing things will be resisted, sometimes passively but often aggressively. Try hard to convince the resisters to join in the transition, but if they refuse, work around or through them, staying focused on your goals. They many not be happy, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." 
Following this philosophy whenever possible, Trump and the GOP should act without the Democratic #Resistance. When necessary, the Dems should be called out in starkly political terms.

Donald Trump has many, many flaws. As I've noted over these first months of his presidency, his seems to be his own worst enemy. But he has been in office for just five months—10 percent of his presidency. If the four constituencies do not succeed in their quasi-coup, he has 90 percent of his first term to accomplish a few things that might actually benefit our country.

But the four constituencies don't want to give him a chance—they want him gone. We'll see how all of this plays out over the coming months.