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It’s still hard wrapping my brain around the words “President Donald Trump” — but there are strategies for moving in that direction. Indeed, I’ve come up with three comforting thoughts about the next how-many years.

1) Trump has no fixed principles. He’s not a real conservative, which presents some interesting possibilities for those of a more liberal bent.

For example, he’s talked about having the federal government negotiate with drugmakers for lower Medicare prescription prices — a capital idea that Democrats have been promoting forever.

This comforting thought is tempered by the strong possibility that Trump will not do it. Here’s why:

It’s a non-alternative fact that pharmaceutical company stocks swooned when Hillary Clinton seemed close to victory. They rose after Trump won, but on the very day he accused the drug companies of “getting away with murder,” pharmaceutical and biotech stock prices plunged. Were Trump to tweet “never mind,” they’d probably shoot up again.

If his circle of friends and family got wind of these market-moving tweets in advance, they could make a pile. Of course, that would be insider trading and illegal.

The day Trump bashed the F-35 fighter jet over costs, shares of its maker, Lockheed Martin, fell nearly 2.5 percent. But the stock price started its rapid descent six minutes before the tweet went out.

Just sayin’.

2) Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. This is not to question his presidential legitimacy. The Electoral College decides the winner. We are only noting the obvious: Many people voted for him, but “the people” did not. And since the election, Trump’s approval ratings have taken a steeper dive.

Sure, he and his surrogates can fight off numbers showing sparse attendance at the inauguration. They can dismiss the millions who protested his inauguration. But the people who count know how to count. Journalists, government officials, Democrats, and Republicans are clearly losing their fear of Donald J. Trump.

John Brennan showed an astounding lack of reverence when an aide relayed the former CIA director’s deep anger at “Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.” Brennan, the aide added, believes that Trump “should be ashamed of himself.”

Guess Trump’s habitual bashing of the intelligence community and his earlier remark likening the CIA to Nazis didn’t go over so well.

Norms of political discourse don’t get turned off for one side and not the other. With Trump’s popularity bleeding away, gloves are coming off all over Washington.

3) There’s comfort in knowing that with real power, Trump can no longer get away with contradictory positions. On such matters as Obamacare, there will be consequences whether Trump does one thing, the opposite, or nothing. And should those consequences involve hurting ordinary people, no amount of populist hypnosis is going to convince them otherwise.

Trump’s executive order directing government agencies to ditch provisions of the Affordable Care Act that impose a financial or regulatory burden has heightened anxiety among insurers and the public. For example, the mandate to buy health coverage or pay a fine could be interpreted as a burden. If it were to be weakened, more healthy people would drop out of the health care exchanges, leaving insurers saddled with a sicker population. The exchanges would collapse.

Now, that may be Trump’s game plan. Kill the ACA without putting Republican fingerprints on a straightforward repeal. Make the public believe it died of natural causes.

I doubt that’s going to work. The people don’t like having security taken away from them. Note I said “the people.”

Cold comfort, perhaps, but let’s take comfort where we find it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk during the inaugural parade from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pool


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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

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