I walk a couple of miles around South Puffin most mornings but yesterday was special.
“It’s a new year” and change was in the air. I expected transformation. I’d greet new people dressed in finery coming out of brand new homes. They would have handsome gardens and all their children would be above average.
It came as a surprise that I recognized every single house on my street. Every one.
Pundits insist on parsing “Make America Great Again” so it means something bad. In fact, on Face the Nation Sunday morning, the consensus was that the slogan specifically evokes racism and anti-feminism and classism and probably fascism.
Why is it so hard to look forward?
David Frum was so negative that he is the absolute embodiment of why I don’t read the Atlantic. He’s a “neoconservative” political commentator and senior editor at the Atlantic. A speech writer for Bush 43, he later wrote the first insider book about the Bush presidency. On Face the Nation, Mr. Frum called the current “crisis of democracy” something that hasn’t been seen since World War II. He was so virulently, consistently negative about Mr. Trump and a Trump presidency that even the Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg called him on his negativity.
The very people who wailed and gnashed their teeth over the Bush Administration are trotting out a similar litany again. Maybe one reason we need to make America great again is because these negative nellies are so afraid of change.
Here are some of the stories I’m hearing for 2017:
The president-elect doesn’t listen to anybody else.
Translation: “We need a president who will go along with the status quo.”
Reality: Mr. Trump tallied 1.4 million more votes than Ms. Clinton did in 49 states (only her huge disparity in California gave her a lead in the popular vote). He carried 32 states overall. She carried 18 and the D.C. He carried about 82% of all U.S. counties; she got the other 18%. That was a call for a significant shift. Voters deliberately chose a man who promised not to listen to the politicians.
The hope: Americans are already more hopeful that the country will be better in 2017 than it was in 2016 under Mr. Obama, according to a new AP-Times Square Alliance poll. People are looking forward to having more jobs and more money to spend.
The new administration has no substantive policies.
Translation: “We need to continue the Obama policies.”
Reality: The new mandate is to repair the damage done by years of political skulduggery on both sides of the aisle. More people than ever before fear and hate the federal government.
The hope: New policies will pare down every Federal department; reform the regulatory code; strengthen the U.S. military to discourage expansion by China, Russia, and terrorists; revamp all U.S. healthcare from the ground up and transform the VA; change the EPA from a fascist front to an environmental steward; establish school choice; create a working energy policy; do real science on climate matters; rewrite the 74,608-page federal tax code; and make us proud of our elected government.
The president-elect and most of the new administration have no political experience.
Translation: “We need a president who will go along with the expansion of big government.”
Reality: For more than a century, all “first world” countries have been rife with interest groups driving bigger government. The fundamental checks on such growth such as our allegiance to local control and a Constitution that limits the government’s role in economic life have been dissolved by Democrats and Republicans alike. Thank goodness that We the Overtaxed People finally elected someone with no political experience!
The hope: The classical liberal hopes that it may still be possible to stem the growth and return the “power to the people.”
The president-elect is morally outrageous!
Translation: “We need a president who is kind to women like Bill Clinton, or FDR, or LBJ, or Grover Cleveland, or James Buchanan.”
Reality: There’s no excuse for bad manners or illegal behavior but every recent election shows we not only accept it but approve of it from “good” politicians (the ones who confirm their supporters’ bias).
The hope: How about a resolution that we punish crimes and eliminate the Victorian prurience?
The president-elect is a rapacious businessman or a terrible financial manager. Or both!
Translation: “We need a president who knows nothing about business.”
Reality: We haven’t elected many politicians who have ever built anything whether it’s a house, a race car, a rocket ship, or a stent. Look where we are now.
The hope: This country was founded on citizen legislators and public servants. Maybe, just maybe, we can reinvigorate the idea of finding successful, capable people in other fields to “lend” their expertise to the government for a little while and then return to real life.
All the new appointments hate [science | women | foreign policy | the EPA | education | Obamacare].
Translation: “The new appointments will throw away all our hard-gains in newspaper science, affirmative action, and ‘free’ perpetual care.”
Reality: Newspaper science isn’t real. Fake trophies punish real accomplishment. And TANSTAAFL.
The hope: We can move the 46.3 million people in the labor force who were actually unemployed into productive jobs. We will value truth over political correctness and doublespeak. And we will task NASA to collect earthly data and return to the stars.
Plenty of people are trying to rewrite history right now but our best chance is to write a better story from today onward.