Looking For A Bright Side

We are all hungry for good news these days–even if the search for the “bright side of life” sometimes seems reminiscent of that famous scene from Life of Brian….

So–can we look for any good news emanating from the Trump Administration? I’ve previously pointed out that civic participation is up dramatically since the election–huge numbers of people who were previously apathetic about government have evidently realized that public policy really does matter. (I know, clutching at straws here…)

Granted, any positive consequence coming from this misbegotten administration is by definition inadvertent. But that doesn’t make such consequences nonexistent.

In a recent column, Fred Hiatt expanded on that inadvertence, which he dubbed “The Boomerang Effect.”

Did your head spin when Utah’s Orrin Hatch, a true conservative and the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, emerged last week as the most eloquent spokesman for transgender rights? Credit the Trump boomerang effect.

Much has been said about White House dysfunction and how little President Trump has accomplished in his first six months. But that’s not the whole story: In Washington and around the world, in some surprising ways, things are happening — but they are precisely the opposite of what Trump wanted and predicted when he was sworn in.

Hiatt reminds his readers of the conventional wisdom–or at least, the conventional punditry–that saw Brexit and Trump’s election as harbingers of a global white nationalist resurgence. Putin and Russia would gain power, the European Union would fracture or disintegrate. That didn’t happen.

But European voters, sobered by the spectacle on view in Washington, moved the other way. In March, the Netherlands rejected an anti-immigrant party in favor of a mainstream, conservative coalition. In May, French voters spurned the Putin-loving, immigrant-bashing Marine Le Pen in favor of centrist Emmanuel Macron, who went on to win an overwhelming majority in Parliament and began trying to strengthen, not weaken, the E.U.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Trump belittled for having allowed so many refugees into her country, has grown steadily more popular in advance of a September election.

Conventional wisdom also saw the GOP’s control of Congress and the White House as evidence that the Affordable Care Act aka “Obamacare” was doomed. Thanks in no small part to the Trump’s incompetence and the internal divisions within the once Grand Old Party, that didn’t happen either.

But here’s the boomerang effect: Obamacare is not just hanging on but becoming more popular the more Trump tries to bury it. And if he now tries to mismanage Obamacare to its death, we may boomerang all the way to single-payer health insurance. This year’s debate showed that most Americans now believe everyone should have access to health care. If the private insurance market is made to seem undependable, the fallback won’t be Trumpcare. It will be Medicare for all.

I fervently hope Hiatt is correct about that, although I admit to having my doubts.

Among the other “boomerangs” that Hiatt identifies are several that are familiar to most of us: firing Comey really ratcheted up the Russia investigation, and increased the public’s perception that Trump has something (many things, probably) to hide. Withdrawing from the Paris Accords prompted state and local governments to increase their efforts to combat climate change. Trump’s threats of massive cuts to the NIH research budget may have strengthened that agency’s hand .

Unfortunately, none of this really mitigates the harm this administration is doing every day.  We have a racist Attorney General who is sabotaging civil rights and criminal justice reforms; an appalling Secretary of Education who wants to destroy public schools and use vouchers to “build up God’s Kingdom;” a climate denier in the pocket of fossil fuel interests is in charge of the EPA.  Whatever Rex Tillerson’s strengths or weaknesses, the State Department staff and institutional memory have been eviscerated…

The “boomerang” we desperately need is a clean sweep of Congress in 2018.

19 thoughts on “Looking For A Bright Side

  1. all speculations?muellers grand jury? trump is a clown,the gop is probably realing because of their support has turned into a court of justice by the people,they represent? maybe the teabaggers will get voted out to other,conservitives,who actully represent and have a moral mind and being(?)..obvioulsly this scenerio will play out that americans have,or at least some of them,will look at this clown,his tactics,and find, they just voted to keep the working class closer to poverty,for 10 more years,and never seeing any,new daylight. the russia contempt for our democracy,will find its a new world out there,of cyberelections. We dont expect less. putin is a thug,and his opertunist party,had some fun,high fivein,(who started that?) and seeing the mess they started… trump is a loser,and he is just,a signature,and the party that supports him and his cabinet,is nothing more than obstructionist of justice… now ,,,after me, LOCKEMUP!!!

  2. I love this blog today; found myself singing an old popular song out of Australia as the perfect theme for Trump’s speeches and rallies, “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”.

    Something unexpected happened to me last week; Trump’s demand that all transgenders be removed from OUR military turned my deep depression and fear into anger and I regained my fighting spirit – MY boomerang came back. I ordered and am flying a beautiful 3ft X 5ft Rainbow flag from my front porch; I ordered and received my “Andre Carson for Congress” yard signs and (silly old woman that I am) finally decided what tattoo I want and where I want it. I now have an Egpytian ankh, the symbol for LIFE, on the outside of my left forearm above my wrist. It is a reminder to me, popular in the 1970’s, and to all who remember it’s meaning that we are still alive and must keep fighting. Even if it means fighting our own government at it’s highest level.

    With Robert Mueller’s call for a grand jury at this time, Moochie’s oust from the White House, the possibility that Gen. Kelly is actually in charge as Chief of Staff, the beginning of an apparent Republican boomerang action on some tough Trump issues; have all boosted my belief that LIFE after Trump – and Pence – will be in our future. And it will begin with that “clean sweep of Congress in 2018”. Let’s make those 2018 election days, “dates that will live in infamy” for the current Republican party at all levels.

  3. Ms. Kennedy, I really believe the ‘bright side’ is the ability of the People to adapt to what ever comes. Somewhere in the morass is this voice – “Hey! How’s it going?”… A human being – greeting another human being with a respectful tone and true concern. That is the last strand of hope I see in this world – concern and care for our fellow man. All of that has been overshadowed by the word coming out of media and opinion columns that bring us news of the dire situation!… What we – and I do mean WE – need to do is DO without them – those that would try to take control of your eyes and your mind and just put our heads together and literally rebuild this nation community by community right out from underneath this burgeoning fascist would be attempt at dismantling Democracy – by using Democracy properly – using the ideas and the voices of the People to solve our problems. It is happening, this bully system is going to get called out. And I truly believe the bully and his gang are going to be the losers. But my biggest question has been – Sheila, what is going to come ‘after’? We have a LOT of things in this country that need to be addressed. However I still have a belief we can rebuild this system for a better Democracy.

  4. Manuel; “what is going to come after?” Had Hillary Clinton been duly elected; the government, due to being overburdened and overrun by Republicans, would have kept us in the same position President Obama left this government in. We would still have democracy with a Democratic president working to overcome the Republican owned and operated Congress. Better to restart from where we were than what we are facing now; fighting for all civil and human rights against a totally privately owned and operated government, Legislature, Executive and Judicial. McConnell’s illegal and anti-Constitutional REFUSAL to have the required hearing (HEARING, NOT APPROVAL) for President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee allowed Trump and Congress to quickly turn our last bastion of democracy, the Judicial, over to “conservative” rule. Have you seen anything “conservative” in this government since January 20, 2017? There is nothing conservative about total destruction – or “deconstruction” as they choose to call it.

  5. We still have a long way to go until the 2018 elections. Keep talking with people. Keep encouraging everyone to get out and vote. Stay involved. That last thing we need is to see the progressive fervor that was lit by the election of 45 die out before November 2018.

  6. Great system: Bob Mueller exercised his authority by empaneling a Grand Jury in Washington, D.C. I’ll bet he already has Trump’s tax returns the Orange Ogre has so cutely, stubbornly been trying to conceal “under audit”. What else has Mueller uncovered? We won’t find out on Fox News, in Tweets, or in White House leaks. Grand Juries don’t leak, they indict!
    Trump goes on a continuing extended vacation and, Surprise! Mitch McConnell prevents recess appointments as the Senate stays “open” in August.
    How does that song go? “They’re coming to take me away, ha, ha.”
    Pence is whistling “Hail to the Chief”.
    Scaramucci “recused” himself with special language. Bigly.

  7. The orange one has kept the media engaged and entertained chasing squirrels, Congress is unable to accomplish anything, I haven’t heard anything about SCOTUS, perhaps they also are like deer in the headlights.

    No surprises.

    Perhaps the world and Lady Luck will let us get away without functional government until we can get one.

  8. I have hope especially after reading today’s comments.

    I attended a CIVICS 101 session in Marana AZ Wednesday night and learned a lot. I knew the federal portion of the session but we also covered state and local government set ups and I did learn a lot about that that I never knew. There were 40 + that attended the Monday night session that I missed and another 20 or more of us that went Wednesday evening. We all need to be involved somehow. Join your local Indivisible Group.

    JoAnn, the tattoo is great. I could never do that. You Rock.

  9. JoAnn,

    Wow! Sounds like you have enjoyed a spectacular week and have accomplished quite a lot 🙂

  10. Other good news this morning – 209,000 added to the workforce in July, but as I often blog, it doesn’t matter if we have 0 percent unemployment and 4 million people added to the workforce every month if they are being paid slave wages. Demand would only be marginally affected and social outlays marginally reduced, but the economy would still be underperforming because of the slave wages paid by corporate America. An increase of 1.6 percent in economic growth whatever the numbers are on unemployment even with a 0.2 percent annualized increase in median wages offers no help on aggregate demand as they are eaten up by inflation, a situation that leaves us where we were before Reagan ended the fair sharing of the economy’s income and introduced trickledown economics to America, a system that ended the New Deal and handed the economy’s income over to the rich and corporate class, a class that is now enjoying a 22,000 Dow while complaining about high taxes and overregulation all the way to the bank. My point is this: That with the current lopsided policy of giving the money to the rich and corporate class while taking it from those who make such earnings available for the pickings no good news is possible since it is aggregate demand that controls market economies and not statistics on unemployment and a stratospheric Dow and, obviously, with the lack of wherewithal comes a chronic lack of demand and a continuing flirtation with recession whatever such statistical measures claim to be measuring – but aren’t. Doubling the minimum wage would be a start, but with 40 years of stagnant or even declining median wages we have a long way to go to pay labor in tandem with what we have paid capital over the past four decades. We need an “affirmative action” policy on behalf of working Americans to catch up with the wage travesties imposed upon them by those who fill the airwaves and business press with propaganda relating to “trickledown” and “austerity” economics, neither of which works, and both of which are deliberately and fallaciously labeled as pillars of market economies, which they are not. What to do? Agitate ceaselessly for a living wage for all, and by so doing end wage inequality for all and rescue an underperforming economy in the process. When? Now.

  11. Gerald,

    I too am very tired of hearing about the unemployment numbers going down. As you said, the wages are low (especially in Indiana).

    Another very important factor that is never mentioned is how many people have dropped off of the unemployment rolls after running out of unemployment insurance. When this happens to people they simply disappear from the statistics.

    There are millions of citizens who are 50 and older who have lost jobs and are considered too old to be of any value by the companies who have job openings. These people are financially struggling and have no where to turn for help.

  12. Nancy – A guaranteed annual wage for all would end the fifty and over peoples’ problems as well as those who cannot work by reason of injury and disease both physical and mental. It would also totally get rid of patchwork state and federal welfare payments, would be far more simple to administer, and could be indexed for inflation. Nixon, of all people, proposed such a program before Watergate and, predictably, Congress shot it down. Can’t let the peasants get outside the thumb of the politicians, you know, because what’s next? We peons might start agitating for single payer healtcare, which other civilized nations have done and whose costs for a cheaper and better system than ours is roughly half the cost of our unevenly “system” run by privatizing interests. Furthermore, we peasants might want to even go so far as to agitate for childcare relief for costs to already underpaid women so that they have at least a shot at working longer hours and making more takehome money while agitating for equal wages for equal work parity, a system also long in force in civilized countries.

    After seeing where we are on the spectrum of wages and other benefits, one wonders whether we are a “civilized” society or a mere ATM machine for Wall Street. It’s something to ponder.

  13. Trump is already mobilizing for 2018. The Trumpet is keeping his base agitated and engaged. His latest message is we won at the ballot box, but the establishment wants to take your vote away with fake news, and fake investigations.

    I do not see Trump Voters giving up on him. The Democrats as a party need a Platform, that carries across all 50 states and DC. Enhanced Medicare for all, and a free college or trade school education, a fair system of taxation, would be a start. A strong platform is needed since there is no FDR in the party to lead the way.

    If the Democrats think all they have to do is run against Trump without a solid plan for change, they will lose again.

  14. Gerald – your points are all so valid and, of course, will most likely never happen in this incivilized country we live in.

    I believe we are an ATM machine for wall street, the fossil fuel industry and the defense industry.

  15. Wall Street, oil, defense , big Pharma, and we cannot forget Insurance’s ATM.
    Ding, ding, ding…we have the winners!

  16. AgingLGrl and Nancy; thanks so much for the kind words.

    Nancy and Gerald; I am also tired of Trump bragging lies that he is responsible for the low unemployment rate, especially being due to jobs moving back to this country thanks only to his efforts. What jobs, where are they and who is filling them? What happened to the actual news reports I read that there are many jobs but employers are NOT hiring due to unqualified applicants? Are these “new” available job numbers partially due to retirements, lay-offs and seasonal work, are the needed migrant workers part of this available jobs report? How exactly is the unemployment rate tracked and figured to maintain accuracy and how accurate are the numbers (under all administrations); is it percentages of job openings filled or actual numbers. If the new job numbers are figured on the rising stock market numbers; does the government get reports as the number of those openings drop or do they just keep adding job opening numbers? What is the unemployment rate of needed White House staff members?

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