The inauguration of Donald Trump is expected to happen at about the time this issue of the Record goes to press. So let’s make a big assumption. Let’s assume for the 58th time, the scheduled inauguration came off without a hitch.
Caution is in order, however, considering the unique circumstances of this election. Since it occurred, Trump’s opponents have been non-stop in their criticism.
Immediately after the November vote, violent protests occurred.
The latest polls are showing Trump with the support of only 37 percent of the nation. That makes him the most unpopular president-elect in history.
The only president who rode in on a wave of dislike even close to the size of Trump’s was Abraham Lincoln, who received the votes of only 39.8 percent of the electorate in a four-way race. By the time he took office, seven states had already seceded from the union.
I find the general uproar over Trump to be over the top, given that he hasn’t done anything yet besides defeat Hillary Clinton. The pre-inaugural protests are more of an insult to the millions who voted for Trump, as if those voters are less intelligent than those who voted for Hillary.
The elites fail to understand that the more they pile on Trump, the more certain Trump supporters are that their vote was justified.
To Trump supporters, he’s like your cantankerous Great Uncle Harry, who only shows up once a year for Thanksgiving dinner. Harry comes in, says offensive things about minorities, women and the disabled, and is either ignored, greeted by nervous giggles, or someone says, “Oh, Harry. You know that’s not true.”
Then Harry responds, “It is too. It’s true. It’s true.”
Meanwhile, the cook just hopes that everybody sticks around long enough to eat the meal she spent six hours slaving over. Basically Harry gets a pass.
With the inauguration, however, it’s like Harry has now been put in charge of the family’s next wedding or funeral. The expiration date on the pass should have read Jan. 20, not Nov. 8.
The protests have been so unrelenting that it almost seems as if there is something else going on. Maybe the issue is that if Trump is actually successful in implementing some reforms in the government, gets the economy moving while bringing down the debt, that it will make the entire Washington establishment, Democrat and Republican, look like a bunch of dolts.
The protesters keep saying Trump’s election was illegitimate, but if he’s successful, the illegitimacy label will be worn only by his opponents.
Regardless, Trump has a lot of convincing to do on the legitimacy front. A poll after the election found that 62 percent of Trump voters and 25 percent of Clinton voters believe that millions of illegal votes were cast. If true, that isn’t something to be blamed on Trump but on local and state election officials.
In addition, 50 percent of Clinton voters and 9 percent of Trump voters believe that Russia somehow hacked into U.S. voting machines and tampered with the actual tallies. Again, if true, Trump can’t be faulted for that, but the effort to delegitimize our republic may well affect his ability to govern.
Last fall, a reader gleefully delivered one of my columns to me in which I wrote in the summer of 2015 that Trump would be toast within two months.
OK, I was wrong; I admit it. So my next best guess is that most likely what will bring Trump down will not be claims that Russia tried to influence the election. Instead it will be a conflict of interest.
We are told that he has a far-flung business empire, but no one knows for sure because he won’t release his tax returns. (Does anyone else wonder like me how Washington can leak every other document under the sun except Trump’s returns? And this from an IRS so politicized that it prioritized the Tea Party and other right-wing groups for audits?)
So assuming it is far flung, my guess is that he will sign a bill without even realizing that it will benefit some small corner of his empire. He will then be made out to be a petty thief.
For those of you freaking out over the Trump presidency, I would remind you that hysteria is unhelpful. Better to remember the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. They understood full well human nature. Our constitutional government is arranged in a way that restrains even the most power-seeking and self-serving individual. The Congress can rein in the president anytime it wants to. The Supreme Court can tell them both that they are full of baloney. The military has spent more than two centuries under civilian control.
The Founders understood the dangers of factions (political parties) and the cruel extremism possible under unrestrained majorities. They did everything they could think of to give us self-rule without selfish rule, to take most of governmental decision-making out of the hands of one flawed human being in hopes that more wisdom will result from engaging enlightened groups.
To quote from Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address: “Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”
Give Trump a chance, but keep a firm hand on the leash.