November 11, 2016

A win for Trump doesn’t need to be a win for Republicans.


Progressives should slow down and think strategically before launching into a knee jerk attack on Donald Trump as if he was an establishment Republican like Nixon or Reagan or Bush.

Donald Trump didn’t just beat the Democratic Party to become president. He beat the Republican Party too, and (so far) he has few friends in the Republican establishment.

The Republican leadership is publicly crowing with delight that the standard bearer of the Republican Party has won the Presidency, but individually they are quivering in fear that their personal power may be at risk.

The only clear individual winners here are the small coterie of people who went all-in with Trump — Christie, Guliani, Flynn, Palin, Gingrich and Prebius. And even these people will only have power at Trump’s discretion and within Trump’s boundaries.

The winner of this election is Trump, and Trump alone.

Everyone else (starting with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell) won’t hold their power for too long. That fear of losing power is why Ryan and McConnell are out publicly trying to assert their positions in the new order. Trump may well replace them too with people who are also willing to upset the apple cart. Even if he doesn’t, they will be his lap dogs.

Trump is his own man and is beholden to nobody but himself. Yes, that is scary—far scarier than Republican majorities in all branches of government—but it also presents an opportunity. Democrats and progressives would be wise to reach out and talk with President-elect Trump before reacting into an attack position.

There will be many fierce battles that need to be fought against President Trump, but there will also be places where we can deal with Trump to the loss of the Republicans.

Trump is not really a Republican on the issues. He is not even really an ideological man. He is an adaptive man of impulse and action. He will shed ideology or association at the drop of a hat if it serves his constant search for attention and adulation.

On the issues Trump is all over the map. While he has espoused unbelievably vile positions, Trump has also in the past acknowledged that universal health care is the best solution, that Planned Parenthood is a righteous organization. His wife is an immigrant. His son-in-law is a Jew. And so on.

Donald Trump has taken the positions he has taken, created the associations he has created and said the things he has said to win in the moment. Tomorrow he will change positions, associations and beak his word entirely if it serves the moment. He feels no requirement to be consistent, to sustain alliances, or to be honest.

We may not admire this, but it can serve us because the game has changed from winning an election to running a nation.

If we approach Donald Trump with guns blazing—as if he was just another Republican, and as if he was bound by what he has said over the past year—then we push him into the hands of the Republicans, and they will happily take him.

If we approach him to make the best deal we can for America that also satisfies his hunt for attention and adulation, then maybe we can get a different and better outcome.

The harsh reality is that a head-on fight with the Republicans is a fight that we lose for at least the next two years. We have very little leverage. Republicans have the House and the Senate. The Scalia seat is lost and so he will have the Supreme Court.

This is the sad legacy of Hillary Clinton and a Democratic Party that succeeded all too well at suppressing a call for change that the Republican establishment could not silence.

Bernie Sanders and a few others have started the process of opening a conversation with Trump. Others should follow that lead instead of racing to become the Democratic Mitch McConnell.

Michael Moore is right that there will be fierce battles that we need to fight, but this is not the moment to fight. This is the moment to be strategic and diplomatic.

There is opportunity to keep Trumpism distinct from Republicanism that we need to seize quickly before it is gone.




Author: Dave Wallack

Image: @elephantjournal on Instagram

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

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