As a recovering alcoholic, I see Trump’s Presidency
as a painful yet galvanizing precursor to real progress.
First, fellow liberals, the bad news: This is going to hurt. A lot.
Following his bullying January 11 press conference and dark, predecessor-bashing inaugural address, it’s clear that President Donald Trump won’t be too different from candidate Donald Trump. Everything from his Twitter feed to his extremist cabinet nominees suggests that the myths Trump peddled while campaigning – climate change as hoax, ObamaCare as disaster, illegal immigration as rampant and rapacious, manufacturing jobs as salvageable – will guide, poorly, his policies as President.
It gets worse. The Republican Party, a collection of cowards coalescing behind an autocratic hijacker, control both houses of Congress. Most likely, we’re about to helplessly witness a painful parade of legislation that leaves millions uninsured, hands billions in tax breaks to the super-wealthy, exacerbates and expedites the catastrophic effects of climate change, and deports vulnerable people whose only crime is seeking a better life. Roe v. Wade may be overturned, Citizens United will stand, and the financial sector will recommence the same predatory practices that caused the Great Recession.
OK, here’s the good news: This needs to happen for truly transformational, progressive change to occur.
Trust me. My name is Chris, and I’m a recovering alcoholic.
No group is more intimately familiar with necessary pain than recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. Addiction takes us on downward trajectories until a point, unique to each, that is simply unacceptable. Nothing motivates like total desperation.
Alcoholics Anonymous describes this as the “jumping off point.” Upon reaching this lonely, seemingly hopeless place, drunks and junkies either jump off the crazy train or jump off a bridge. We recover or die.
On my journey down alcoholism’s steep, slippery hill I lost a job, my savings, nearly my wife. Finally, assisted by cheap beer and the NYPD, I lost my driver’s license. I haven’t drank since.
My weirdest-ever metaphor: I am like America. A diseased drunk that will only make significant changes amid unbearable suffering.
And since, for alcoholics like me, booze is but a symptom of deep-rooted spiritual sickness, let’s diagnose America’s political landscape separate from the toxic yet intoxicating Trump.
The obstructionism and divisive bile spread by the GOP through Barack Obama’s presidency was not going to magically disappear under a President Hillary Clinton. Essentially, a Clinton win would have meant a third Obama term starring a less dynamic understudy. Though Democrats also may have won control of the Senate, the House of Representatives would have remained firmly in Republican hands. Cue four more years of gridlock.
Let’s get real: Hillary had one-termer written all over her. The mass, misinformed frustration that bubbled up in 2016 would have sunk her in 2020, because we simply would have suffered through four more years of stalemate.
Not so with Trump. Things will get done. Shameful, terrible things, to be exact.
In this fashion Donald Trump, who is utterly unprepared and temperamentally unfit to be President, will bring about a groundswell of positive change through the inevitable backlash against him. Minorities, women, the LGBTQ community, people opposed to dying in a nuclear holocaust… the more groups he pisses off, the better.
As AA’s Step 1 proclaims, an integral initial aspect of recovery is admitting that life has become unmanageable. Considering that Trump entered the White House with the lowest approval rating for an incoming President on record, we’re halfway there already.
And let’s not forget how Trump became president: by a football stadium’s worth of votes across three states. Everything had to break right for him to win the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million. Lost in the initial shock of Trump’s victory was the incredible unlikelihood of its arithmetic; it was a perfect storm that, four years from now, will be virtually impossible to repeat.
Because Donald Trump is an impetuous fool, and will fail miserably as president. His cabinet is nearly as unsuited to govern as he is, and his administration will surely be marred by multiple corruption or sex scandals.
Most importantly: once even a small percentage of the underemployed, disaffected white working class realize Trump can’t bring their jobs back, his chances for reelection will evaporate.
For them, the sharpest pain in America’s approaching bottom will be realizing that their manufacturing jobs were lost to automation, not Mexico – and that their Charlatan in Chief can’t make their employment prospects great again with the wave of a gaudy, gilded wand. The anger that Trump fed upon in 2016 will be unavailable in 2020; in fact, it may very well boomerang back at him.
The same people Trump catered too, then, are the ones he’s about to most betray. The GOP is about to blast a huge crater in its own base, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for progressives to finally overcome its years-long legislative logjam and current governing hinterlands.
No pain, no gain. Trump’s devastating wreckage will spark a much-needed national recovery.
In the meantime, buckle up. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
But it will get better only because it got worse.