What can Trump actually do? Nothing like what he has threatened.
By contrast we can do very effective things about the mess we face. We can make things okay. And I will be writing about some definite remedies available to us. (See where I've already begun: Now What Do We Do?) But first, we have to pull up our socks and think straight.
We must shut out the horror stories about what Donald Trump is "going to do". Most of what he said he will do, he simply can't. Don't buy his campaign propaganda! He was lying in order to get attention and supporters. Plus he doesn't know what he is talking about! By contrast I am a lawyer, a professor of legislation, an activist for decades in civil rights, and author of two definitive works on environmental legislation. I worked in government and politics for 45 years.
Believe me, Donald Trump is ignorant and inexperienced about government. Government is a big ship and very hard to turn. I learned that when working for eight years at the executive level in California state government.
Most of the things he says he will do actually have to be done by Congress. Repeal of Obamacare? Are you telling me Congress is really going to strip 22 million constituents of their health insurance? Trump's just now pulled back from condemning those with pre-existing conditions to again being denied coverage? But take away insurance from 22 million American? C'mon! Those 22 million are voters in Congressional districts! Here come the wheel chair parades to denounce "cruel" Congressmen.
Quite likely the Congress will come up with something other than Obamacare, and we probably won't like it. If it's bad, it will perish because it doesn't work for people. Then we will move a step closer to the only real solution: single payer, i.e. everybody can opt for Medicare. It will be fun to watch Congress trying to carry the hot potato of replacing Obamacare. Once people have medical insurance it's hard to take it away, as the GOP Congress—and Trump—will now learn. And just watch the screams when the GOP's House Speaker Paul Ryan pushes for "privatizing" Medicare. Such moves will destroy the GOP's majority in Congress.
Repeal of our environmental laws? Those laws are there for a good reason. Among other things, they cleaned the sewage and garbage out of the rivers. Remember the Cuyahoga River catching fire from all the trash in it? The laws also cleaned up the choking smog of our major Western cities. China and India's people are dying because of pollution, and those governments are finally learning the lesson. Trump's government will too, if it comes to that.
Also remember that a lot of states now have environmental regulation. They even sue each other because pollutants from one come into the skies or waters of the other. Environmental law at the federal level is useful but actually not as nimble as state laws. I saw the environmental movement being born 50 years ago and was part of that process: the San Francisco Bay Area's "Save the Bay", the first grass-roots environmental campaign. Since then environmentalism has become part of the fabric of American life. Sesame Street teaching it to the kids, all the recycling we now do, solar panels on people's roofs and on business roofs because solar is geting cheaper and is saving people and businesses money. On and on. Environmentalism is bigtime in American life.
As for dirty energy and global warming, both the GOP Congress and Trump say they are going to get the "job-killing regulations" off the coal and oil industries. That doesn't mean a damn thing! That's not going to bring back jobs in those industries because dirty fuels are a drag on the market. They are going to continue to go away no matter what the feds do. They are dying industries because of economics, not because of federal regulations. E.g.
The Coal Industry Isn’t Coming Back Natural gas is increasingly replacing coal in producing electricity, holding the place that solar, wind and even newer technologies will fill in due course.
Now look at oil: gasoline is half the pump price of just a few years ago. The financial community now assigns a virtual zero value to in-ground oil, refusing to any longer consider it as an asset of a company. No banks want to lend on oil and coal projects any more. (I don't know where the proponents of the Keystone pipeline got their money but apparently they had it in the bag before the downfall of oil prices.) After a big fight two years ago in Portland, Oregon, Shell persisted in sending its oil drilling ship up into Alaskan waters, then brought it home almost immediately because the accountants said it wasn't worth the expense in a shrinking oil market.
Trump has made a lot of threats, and over the next weeks I'll try to assess the actual possibilty of the most serious ones. The Supreme Court is, of course, the supreme worry.
But get this right now—because I know your humanitarian concern is profound—Trump cannot deport 11 million people wholesale. Or the "two or three milion criminals" he has now cut down to.) There are requirements of due process for even non-citizens and for "criminals". Supreme Court Upholds Basic Due Process Rights of Immigrants And get this: the Catholic Church was extremely protective of the "illegal aliens" as they were called back in the 1980s when mass round-ups were attempted. The Church opened its doors as sanctuaries. The Religious Origins of the Sanctuary Movement. Do Trump and the Congress really want to take on the Catholic Church, still the largest church in America? One in five Americans is Catholic, equaling over 69 million nationwide. Celebration Guide for the Inaugural Year, Parish Religious Education Week, Nov 1-7, 2015 Not nice politics to have police and INS on TV forcing their way into churches to grab little children.
Plus keep this in mind: will the parsimonious GOP Congress give Trump billions for deportations and for his "beautiful wall"? Really? And how will the big hotels, such as those bearing the Trump name, replace the Latino maids and laundresses, cooks and gardeners that make their existence possible? And what will mighty agribusiness do without stoop labor? And the meat-packing plants in Kansas and Nebraska that could open in the little prairie towns because they could get Latino workers to come there. The Latinos coming there saved those little towns from extinction. And what about the workers in construction and road work? How many industries does Trump think he can shaft with the okay of Congress?
It's still America, and money and business still run the show. Sometimes in the name of profit, business gets it right—as with energy conservation. Sometimes it supports a system that keeps desperate refugees at low wages, as in the fields of agriculture. But in the 70 years I have been hearing about "wet-backs" and the "stoop labor" issue, no one has ever come up with a lasting plan for decent wages that agribusiness would accept. Or could any politician fight off the demands of our huge agribusiness. To believe agribusiness will now accept its cheap labor being deported is nonsense.
I'm just trying to point out that Trump won't have it all his way. The GOP Congress also can't have it all its way and get re-elected. Trump's supporters are in for big disappointments.
Among the promises he can't deliver on is one I actually liked. In fact, I'm going to get a tee shirt that says, "Hey, Donald! Where's my Social Security increase?"
I'll tackle more of Trump's no-go ideas soon, plus an upcoming post on how we circumvent the drat electoral college in the future. This has to stop happening. We win the popular vote and get kicked in the stomach. George W in 2000 and now Trump, even though both were rejected by a majority of voters. Give me a break!
P.S. Is it true Trump made millions on all those caps that he sold at the rallies, the ones that say "Make America Great Again"? You think I can make millions with my Social Security tee shirt? If so, the ice cream is on me! Four scoops for everybody!