Donald Trump’s official presidential bio contains about a half-dozen attempts to convince someone — probably himself — that his win was a massive blowout and not a shameful, slight fluke only made possible by the intervention of a foreign government and a domestic conspiracy to get the FBI director to interfere in the democratic process during the final weeks, twice.
This sad overcompensation — like the emergency White House press briefing called Saturday night to lie about the size of of his inauguration crowd as the largest protests in U.S. history raged against the new president — isn’t an accident.
It’s an announcement: We will do what we want regardless of how many Americans are against us.
Since Trump lost by the popular vote by the largest margin in a modern times, he’s done nothing to reach out to the majority of Americans who rejected him. His cabinet is made up entirely of doctrinaire, extremely right-wing Republicans, most of them filthy rich, nearly all white and male. His hostile inaugural address proclaimed a mandate for him to act as the voice of “the people,” though he’s the least popular president to take the office is the history of polling such things.
And things are only going to get worse.
With minority support and no interest in courting anything but that, Trump is about to enact a far right agenda unlike anything we’ve seen since the 1920s.
If Trump gets his way, we are likely to see the greatest transfer of wealth to the richest in human history, though the wealth inequality in America is already nearing levels that brought out the guillotines in 18th-century France.
This transfer of wealth is not just about giant tax breaks for the rich and their kids and their corporations and their kids’ corporations. It’s not just about a massive uninsuring of working Americans that will return us to the era of discrimination against the sick. And it’s not just about the erasure of regulations that will transfer the costs of pollution and financial risk back on to middle-class.
As he was about to take the oath of office, Trump’s team announced plans for $10.5 trillion in cuts based on a plan devised by the Heritage Foundation — a plan that includes huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Defense Department. This plan would violate some of Trump’s most notable campaign promises and likely send millions, if not tens of millions, of the 48 million Americans, including 12 million children, that the government keeps out of poverty into abject despair.
What mandate does the GOP have to unwind the insurance of 32 million and turn an income inequality crisis into an income inequality nightmare?
Yes, Republicans hold a majority of seats in the House, where they lost seats despite an electoral map that has been gerrymandered for their exclusive pleasure. Yes, they hold the Senate, where they also lost seats and their 52 representatives represent millions of fewer voters than the 48 Democrats. And then there is Trump, who got millions fewer votes than Clinton but won three key states by a margin smaller than 1 percent with share of the vote less than 50 percent.
The closest analogy in history to this is the 2000 election when George W. Bush made passing gestures at unity and ended up pursuing a nakedly partisan agenda that erased a surplus, lost two wars and revealed mass incompetence.
But even W. didn’t go after Planned Parenthood. And the millions he uninsured were just the side effect of the failure of his economic polices.
Conservatives often worry about the “tyranny of the majority,” a phrase Alexis de Tocqueville picked up from John Adams to fret about “mutability of law that is inherent in a democracy by changing the legislature year, and investing it with almost unbounded authority.”
They much prefer the “tyranny of the minority” — as long as the minority we’re speaking of is rich, white men.
So it’s fitting that the right should be willing to abandon all its once-fervent worries about Donald Trump and surrender to his warm embrace of nearly all of their policies. And in exchange Trump takes total control of the Reality Gerrymandering machine they’ve built for decades, with think tanks and a pliant media dedicated to the proposition that birth begins at incorporation. It’s this machine that made Trump’s rise possible and it’s this machine that will sell Trump’s agenda.
The right’s greatest asset is that its policies are so damn profitable for its donors. Conservative allies spent $666 million attacking Obamacare, outspending defense of the reforms by about 5-to-1. They’ll likely do the same or more to tell people why they should be so happy their neighbors are being uninsured. And Trump’s willingness to lie about crowd size and anything means his promises are worth less than the businesses he bankrupted.
Republicans can only lose two votes in the Senate to enact their extreme makeover of the middle class — and two Republicans up in 2018 just happen to represent states that really love their Planned Parenthood.
Taking away things could be harder than Republicans can imagine. And with millions hitting the streets and Trump’s nerve on his first weekend in power, at least the people reminded their president that he only represents a minority of the people he governs. And that may not be enough.