Saturday, May 6, 2017

9.0 100 Days, 100 Nights

Just over one hundred days into Don Presidente’s regime and thankfully, we’re still here for the most part. The republic stills stands. Democracy survives, for now. The threat is far from over, though, considering a hundred days only accounts for less than 7% of his scheduled time in office, assuming he only serves a single term, and the ongoing investigations into his campaign’s connections to the Russian government don’t bring him down early.

These past hundred days have felt like a lifetime, what with all the twists and turns, all the drama, all the missteps and distractions. I could easily turn this piece into a review of Ill Douche’s inauspicious start in his first government position. He’s signed twenty-eight bills into law, none of them substantial, and has issued thirty executive orders (more than any previous president during the same period of time, since WWII — something he criticized Obama for doing too much of, along with golfing), nearly as insubstantial, save for the ones that were blocked by courts; and a couple of military actions, both dubious in their effectiveness.

With a couple of exceptions, he’s filled with cabinet with people as inexperienced as he is, and as rich as he claims to be, a number of them have openly stated their intentions to tear down the very agencies they have been selected to head. His approval rating hovers at about 42%, nationally — a record low of for someone in office this long — yet among his voters, he still enjoys a approval rating in the 90s. Despite his failings, his obvious ineptitude, and his admitted miscalculation about how hard it is to be POTUS, Don Presidente remains an enigma. What does all of this mean for our country, for democracy as a whole, but most importantly, for our chances of surviving his reign in office?

In the first piece for this blog, I questioned Ill Douche’s intentions as president. These first hundred days have made things only somewhat clearer. One narrative, that he’s simply doing it to enhance his brand, remains a viable one. His businesses, now being run by his sons, are in excellent shape with the help of our tax dollars. Once he leaves, or is forced out, he should be set up for a glorious return, reaping the benefits of his unchecked conflicts of interest, unless we can find a way to counter that. I also speculated that he simply wanted power simply for the sake of having it.

I’m no longer sure that’s the case, although if he can find a comfort zone, he may be less willing to give it up. I am sure that his relationship with Putin was about power. Putin wants nothing more than to consolidate his realm of influence by weakening democracy throughout the rest of the world and fracturing the forces — NATO, The European Union, etc — that keep that goal in check. His hope in backing Ill Douche, along with seeing an easing of sanctions, was that his nationalist America First agenda would narrow the U.S.’s interest to primarily domestic issues, leaving him free to continue his own expansion and meddling.

Speaking of domestic policy, that is where a darker theme has emerged. While his campaign was constantly dogged with accusations of racism, there remained an open question about whether he was simply using it to take advantage of the years of fear and loathing bred into the social conservatives that make up his base, or whether that racism would carry on into his administration. With the rise in hate crimes in the country, we’ve all seen how his pandering has stirred up white supremacists. But his immigration policies, to date, and his choice of Jeff Sessions to head up the Department of Justice all point to something far more nefarious: Ill Douche has every intention of stopping, or at least slowing down, the end of the white male power structure.

Don’t let Steve Bannon’s recent demotion fool you. Bannon’s still firmly entrenched in the administration. If Don Presidente, Sessions and Bannon can continue to work together by continuing to deport undocumented immigrants in record numbers, discouraging others from coming at all, refusing refugees, stopping the movements for prison reform and a less racist justice system, and moving back towards the privatization of prisons, thereby creating a profit source that discourages anti-recidivism programs, they can, at the very least, make sure white males maintain their power at the polls. So, while the complexion of the country may still change, its power structure will remain mostly unfazed.

This is my greatest fear a hundred days in. If the election has taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of angry white people, not only because they feel like they’ve been left behind, but also because they’ve seen this country change at, for them, an alarming rate. Women prove they can be as good, if not better than, men every day at everything. Marijuana is becoming legal. Gays can get married and raise children. Men can become women, and women can become men. Not being a Christian is no longer an insurmountable stigma. A black man can become president.

For those who genuinely believe that this country rightfully belongs to Christian white men, and that to be anything else is to practically not be Christian, and thereby not worthy enough to live your lifestyle, much less have a say in where this country goes, these have been scary times. There fears have only been fanned for ratings, or worse, to achieve and maintain power. While unfounded, these fears are very real in the hearts of those who suffer from them. I see no end to the manipulation of these fears, no call to move past them.

The saddest part of this is that these fears aren’t being exploited because the powers that be actually ascribe to them. How does the cliche go? The only color capitalists see is green. What those trying to hold onto power are trying to achieve, with their handpicked fool at the helm, is to make as much money as they possibly can, for as long as hey can keep him there. If they have to keep the rest of us divided to accomplish that, it’s just the price of doing business. Don Presidente’s base should be afraid. They’re just afraid of the wrong things.

The past one hundred days have given us plenty to dread about, some sleepless nights, fits of righteous anger, even some rays of hope. Assuming he escapes impeachment or doesn’t just quit, outright, that gives us a little over 550 days before our best chance to end this national nightmare. Given that his base looks ready to support him to their graves, there’s plenty of work to do to prepare for the midterm elections in 2018. We better get past our own petty differences and unite by then. If we can’t make a difference then, I doubt our chances of limiting Ill Douche to one term. If one hundred days feels like a lifetime, just imagine what eight years will feel like.

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