Here’s a piece of good news about Donald Trump’s ascension in American politics. Trump has shown that American politicians and the system they operate in is far from the portrait he has painted of them. We all know the narrative that members of the public are susceptible to believing, and that demagogues like Trump are brilliant at exploiting. The narrative goes that all politicians are corrupt and that change within and by the system is hopeless.
But if in the past it wasn’t clear that we live in a nation of laws, laws that plenty of civil servants and politicians take seriously and seek to abide by, then it should be clear now, as we witness superb evaluation of Trump’s decisions by our representatives in the so called Washington Swamp.
The people Trump has sought to appoint as his cabinet members have showcased much more knowledge about US political norms, and the limits it puts on their behavior, than Trump has. And the congressional members on committees to vet these folks frame their grilling within the bounds and precedents of law, not on their personal whims or hyper-partisan interests. I concede that hyper-partisanship has rendered what should be effective governance as inept, but our politicians do know when there comes at them a leader so far off the cusp that he needs to be checked and balanced.
When you fight the good fight against Trump, believe in the powers of persuasion and rationality, and approach it like he needs to be checked and balanced in a relatively decent tradition of American democracy, a tradition that has proven to have many components that work just fine.
Don’t let broad sweeping condemnations get the best of you. We can all go on and on about how he is racist and sexist, but there are better ways to reach him and his supporters.
Of late I’ve learned how to approach the good fight by watching news shows in which governmental officials give their two cents on Trump. They speak diplomatically, are level-headed, and have a cool rational approach when assessing various developments from World Trump. Some of them know they may have a shot at being on an official advisory role to Trump. Others may serve in some capacity in his administration.
Despite the appearance that Trump is a self-centered ego maniac who will do his own thing and listen to no one, he is realizing that he will need a lot of advice. Obama said that presidents come to fully appreciate the complexity of the job, and the gravity of every presidential action, immediately after taking office. As Trump gets himself in more complicated jams, as it becomes apparent to him that he doesn’t know everything, and that he risks looking foolish, he will seek and take the advice of the expertise around him. Hopefully those advising him will also take ordinary people’s views into consideration as well. An effective way for us ordinary citizens to do that is to stick to making persuasive and well-articulated arguments in response to policies and actions that we don’t like.