The Boy King. The image that comes to mind when I think of a Trump presidency isn’t that of a ruthless tyrant, or a xenophobic dictator. Trump is many things, but he’s never exactly what you describe him as. No one who has analyzed what he has said and done for a number of years can accurately assess what he’s going to do on a policy level, because Trump has no coherent policy. Actually, that may be an understatement, as a more accurate assessment of Trump is that he has no ideology. He doesn’t really believe in anything, and has been on every side of virtually every issue, even things he’s known for having a strong stance on like immigration. The only consistent thing about Trump is the level of character he brings to the office, and that character is that of an unpredictable petulant child.
These first few weeks of transition have brought us a sneak preview of the kind of president Trump will be. Paranoid, thin-skinned, and generally contemptuous of those who slight him. His team will be filled with infighting back biters desperate to curry favour with their king, meanwhile Trump will intermittently be an easily manipulated stooge or a defiant child. There are no good outcomes to this situation. America elected an honest to God unstable nitwit as president. He ran a campaign on xenophobia, sexism, and racist lies and he won, and the reward for such a victory is appropriate. Trump will not serve the racists of the country, he will not serve hardworking and decent Americans, he won’t even serve himself. He’s just going to flail as any clueless child would in a position that does not suit him, for 4 or 8 years (don’t rule out a Trump re-election), and then disappear and die a lonesome death. He won’t be remembered as a normal president, but as a notable scenario where a population elected a temperamentally unfit man (who also happens to be a sexual predator) to run a country when he probably shouldn’t be allowed to run a super store. Here is the best and worst case scenario.
He is controlled. Trump isn’t really a conservative, as I mentioned before he’s basically a nothing. He’s a shallow person with nothing beneath that hair. This means he can be swayed by superficial things like the public’s perception of him personally. If Democrats can convince him that doing the right thing and making good decisions for the country, and rejecting Paul Ryan’s heinous agenda, is a good thing for his popularity, then he’ll do it. Trump has no passion for conservatism, he probably doesn’t much understand it, but he does understand his own ego and he’ll do everything in his power to stoke it. Anything that can alleviate the bad will he accumulated throughout his presidential run will be tough to imagine him ever passing up. The best case is that Trump is controlled and appeased for the next four years and then tossed aside when a competent leader is elected.
The division between Trump and the establishment Republicans that surround him often goes underappreciated, but its a real thing. If Trump can be seen as the populist crusader that stands up against the establishment, which is currently populated by horrendous people like Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz, then the wave of anti-establishment populism that Trump rode into the presidency can actually be used for good for once. Trump draining the swamp that he himself brought before being cast off to the abyss would save a lot of Americans heart ache. Unfortunately, that scenario does not seem any more likely than the worst case scenario.
Mike Pence is in charge. Trump could be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the presidency, and then have Mike Pence act as the effective commander in chief in the same way Dick Cheney operated the White House on behalf of George Bush. Mike Pence is dangerous because he devotes himself wholeheartedly into Trumpism, but has the grace, intelligence, and sophistication to pull it off on an international scale. Perhaps Trump’s best and worst feature is that he’s a graceless buffoon. He lies constantly yes, but when he’s told to deliver something controversial with subtlety, he will blurt it out exactly as it’s true meaning. When asked how he would deal with abortions, he said that he would punish women for them. No Republican would ever say that outright, and would rather use weasel phrases and ambiguity to get that point across, but Trump was presumably told by his handlers at the time that an anti-abortion argument would appeal to Republican voters all over the country, so he admitted straight out that he’d punish women. This is because that’s what anti-abortion laws are all about, they punish women, and Trump said it plainly because he has no filter. That is not the case with Mike Pence.
If the Vice Presidential debate taught us anything, it’s that Mike Pence is a cold and calculating individual who will lie convincingly without a second thought. He can translate Trumpism to mainstream conservatism and can turn the unpalatable into something half of America will embrace instantly. In other words, he’s exactly the wrong kind of leader America should have while Republicans control all three branches of government. The damage he is capable of is immeasurable, and I shutter to think about what a lucid minded demagogue is capable of.
This is not to say that Trump does not represent a danger on his own. You can trust Pence not to kowtow to Russian foreign interests, but you better believe Trump will bend over for Putin. You can also trust Pence not to thoughtlessly use nuclear weapons, not so with Trump. The thing is, despite what I’ve said earlier, I can’t really tell you what the best and worst case scenarios are because we don’t know what will happen in a Trump presidency. Mike Pence is a grown man set in his awful, awful ways. He’s not going to change even if we desperately want him to. Trump on the other hand is a child; capricious, attention seeking, and cruel. He’ll do whatever he wants to do because he holds so much power, and we’ll never be able to nail him down because that is the nature of a Boy King. We will desperately ask that he settle down and stop shifting so much, but he won’t, and that’s because his one constant is that he’s an unpredictable child. This is the world we live in now, because 60 million people decided this moron should become the most powerful person on the planet. God help us all.
Quote of the Day:
“We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but l don’t know if we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king.”
Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones.