Finish this sentence: “What doesn’t kill you___________.”
This is how I introduced my recent continuing education class entitled, “President Trump a Year Later.” Of course, this quote is normally completed with the words, “makes you stronger.”
While I don’t like our present’s personality, style or bullying ways, I see the potential for good coming out of his presidency. America is a representative democracy and it needs active and aware voters involved in the political process. Complacency kills a a republican form of government. One thing all of us can agree on is that Trump riles people up and makes his opponents fearful that he will destroy this nation and take away our freedom.
As noted in an earlier column, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have taught us through their research that people will fight harder to avoid loss than they will to attain some new goal. Based upon this principle, the more Trump makes us feel threatened, the more we will strive to save our democracy.
The first eight months or so of Trump’s presidency were like the children’s game, “Crack the Whip.” Children hold hands to form a line. The child on one end is the leader. He starts turning in a small tight circle. Those on the other end of the line have to move faster to keep up with his turning. Eventually those on the end will be thrown off the line because they can’t run fast enough. This is how the early part of Trump’s administration was. People were reacting to his words and actions.
The last four months have seen a change in this political schema. The new reaction to Trump’s presidency is “pushback.” People aren’t just reacting to him, they are now finding ways to stop him. This pushback will continue to increase as time goes on.
One example of pushback is the recent defeat of Alabama Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore to Democrat Roy Jones. Enough educated conservative whites and Christian fundamentalists who found the teen sexual predator allegations convincing either voted for Jones, or penciled in write-in candidates. The write-ins were enough to elect Moore.
Among the Democrats, blacks came out in droves to vote for Jones. Their political activism was rewarded with a major victory and a slap in the face to Trump and and his policies. This is the third major political defeat for him. The first two were election losses in Virginia and New Jersey to Democrats in the November balloting.
Women are increasingly coming out to run for political office. According to Emily’s List, a pro-choice Democratic political action committee, 20,000 women have contacted them about running for political office. The positions they are wanting to fill range from city council to governor. As one woman candidate noted after Trump’s November 2016 victory, “It shook something inside me.”
The #MeToo movement has brought down high-level politicians. There are three in Congress from both parties. Democratic Sens. Franken and Conyers and Republican Rep. Trent Franks –so far. Members of the House will be required to take training to educate members in proper behavior toward women. Women are feeling emboldened after revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior and Donald Trump’s comments in the “Access Hollywoood” video.
What the future holds for the Robert Mueller investigation is anyone’s guess. One thing is certain. President Trump is going to resist anyone telling him what to do. It is clear that Fox News is using its news bureau to destroy or taint the reputation of Mueller. This could be Trump’s and his allies attempts to weaken the revelations from the investigation about the Trump campaign’s connections with the Russian government.
Expect 2018 to be a very difficult year politically with accusations and counteraccusations. What is certain is that the American voters are not going to be complacent during the 2018 Congressional election year. Both sides will be digging in their heels and righteously claiming the high ground. The divide between the two perspectives will only increase. This is not taking into account North Korea’s missile tests and the potential for a war in Asia.
If we can get through this period of political chaos, we will be a stronger nation with its citizens valuing democracy far more, since we are in danger of losing it. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”