I, like many people I know, are watching this administration’s actions and getting more and more frightened for the long-term damage it could do. His inauguration speech was a nationalistic cry to the “forgotten” Americans, and a slap in the face to those of us who see how great the country is, and want it to be better for all. It was a speech describing a zero sum game, where it’s us or them, and that made me sad. That sadness has been balanced, somewhat, by the incredible reaction we’re seeing to the surprising win by Trump. From the women’s march on Washington (and the other marches all over the country, even in other countries) to the stories of large numbers of progressives getting more involved to the incredible rallies that are happening at a moment’s notice in response to actions the administration is taking. This all happens, and I watch with some pleasure, but what I feel most of all is sadness. Sadness that our President could so easily win so many people over, and simply won’t. He’s described by those close to him as somebody who craves good ratings. Who wants to be loved. And he could be, with the simplest moves.
Just imagine, it’s January 22, 2017. Trump’s inauguration was exactly as it was, and the very next day millions of people marched in the streets against many of the things they feared from a Trump administration. His response was a tweet:
First of all, many of them did vote, and that’s part of the reason that Clinton won the popular vote. Second of all, the missed opportunity is the tragedy. What if, instead of that tweet, the marches were greeted with something like this:
Yes, I know it’s too many characters, and I know it’s obviously photoshopped, but what if that happened? What if the response to the marches was an executive order, that wouldn’t be binding, and would have nothing but a symbolic effect, but that said the administration is committed to protecting the rights of women everywhere.
Can you imagine how popular he would be?
Shortly after my last post about being a “Barlet Democrat,” President Trump released his nomination for the Supreme Court. Although the nominee is clearly qualified, and might actually be less extreme than the Justice whose seat he’s nominated to fill, it’s impossible to feel good about what’s happening. Justice Scalia died while Obama was president, and it was Obama’s place to fill that seat. The Senate refused, and they got what they wanted. But I can’t help thinking about the West Wing, and how things seemed to work out “as they should” in that world. Sure, it’s easier for things to work out well in fiction, but this would be easy. Another missed opportunity.
The West Wing episode I’m talking about was Season 5, episode 17, the Supremes. A liberal administration is responsible for filling a SCOTUS seat left vacant when a conservative justice dies. They are expecting a horrible confirmation process if they nominate a strong liberal. In fact, the Chief Justice is an elderly man who is struggling at the job, and showing his age. He has refused to step down, well past the time he should have, because he knows it would be impossible to appoint somebody as liberal as he is. Without describing every turn, I’ll just say that there’s a whole lot of great television, and really good lines, along with excellent performances by Glenn Close and William Fitchner, and in the end, they convince the Chief Justice to resign, giving them two seats to fill, one previously occupied by a liberal and the other by a conservative. In the end, they win a smooth nomination for both by replacing them with a liberal and a conservative.
Can you imagine how popular President Trump would be if he said this: The nomination process for justices has become too politicized. We need to stop this, and start over. President Obama was within his duty to nominate a justice, and he did so. I have spoken with Justice Ginsberg [or one of the other liberals on the bench] and she [or he] has agreed to step down. To replace Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsberg [or whomever], I nominate Neil Gorsuch and Merrick Garland to be the next justices of the Supreme Court.
The crowd goes wild, and his popularity rankings triple. He will be in some hot water because he’s replacing a woman with a man, and I’m sure some conservatives will regret missing the chance to make it a 6-3 court, but he will have been fair, he will have left the balance of the court with a 5-4 conservative majority, and he can belittle anybody who fights him as being unfair, and overly partisan. With that one motion, he would have risen above the political fray, and shown himself to be the anti-politician that he made his supporters believe he was.
I hadn’t intended my very next post after “What would Bartlet do?” to be an answer to the question. I expected that to be something I addressed regularly, but certainly not in every single post. Yet here it is, and here we are…so far from where we could be. So I find happiness in fiction, while still sad about reality. Maybe once in the next four or eight years, President Trump will watch an episode of the West Wing and get an idea for something that Bartlet would do.