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"Seek Peace While Preparing for War": A Strategy for the Outset of the Trump Era

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Schmookler       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Let's test, not assume

The United States has entered an extraordinarily dangerous era, with Donald Trump as President and a deplorable Republican Party holding majorities in both Houses of Congress, as well as a likely "conservative" majority in the Supreme Court. Never have the forces of brokenness held so much power in America.

With such an adverse balance of power, it is essential that our side -- call it "the non-Trump part of America" -- generate a strategy that maximizes what advantages we still have.

The challenge for us can be clearly stated: What can we do to minimize the damage the nation -- and the world -- will suffer from the Trump presidency?

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A major obstacle to coming up now with a strategy to meet that challenge is that there is so much that remains unknown about what the various components of the picture will do, and what will be the dynamics that emerge from all their interactions.

What would serve us best now is a strategy that will serve us well regardless of how those uncertainties play out.

One of the crucial uncertainties concerns Trump himself: as we seek to protect all the values and interests and people he seems to threaten, is our only option to fight him tooth and nail with everything we've got? Or is there some chance that ways can be found for dealing with him that will make his presidency less malign and less destructive than we fear?

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In other words, is political war the only option? Or is there a possible better scenario for America?

The strategy I will propose calls for some opening moves for our side to make to test for the possibilities for that better scenario.

Let me address right off the objections that we already know who he is, that we know that the option of peace rather than war does not exist, and that it would weaken us to seek any sort of peace with a man as monstrous as he has abundantly shown himself to be.

First, I believe that we do know who he is, and that what we have seen provides scant basis for optimism about "best-case" scenarios of how he will act as president. I myself have written, since July of 2015, literally dozens of articles characterizing his authoritarianism, his extraordinary dishonesty, his lack of principle, his thirst for revenge, his sadistic pleasure in humiliating people, his disregard for fundamental American norms, etc. etc. I have researched how to understand him in psychological terms -- perhaps a narcissistic personality disorder combined with an anti-social personality disorder -- and I believe I have a reasonably good picture of what a horrible person he is.

And most of what we've seen since the election only confirms that ugly picture.

But".

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We should never be so certain of our understandings that we simply assume we know for certain what is and is not possible. The option of influencing him in a positive direction should not be ruled out simply on the basis of an assumption.

Might his vanity be used to motivate him to achieve something history will applaud? Can inroads be made in his ignorance that would lead him to reconsider some of his pernicious beliefs? Might he be moved by the grandeur of the office to care, for the first time, about something larger than himself?

Probably not, or not much. But the possibilities must be tested.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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