Of Course I Want Trump to Fail

One of the more annoying memes circulating on the Facebook pages of my conservative friends is the airplane analogy. According to this meme, the United States is like a giant plane that Trump will soon be piloting. Wanting him to fail means you clearly want the plane to crash. Several of my friends have posted this sentiment, smugly suggesting that this is the right attitude to take toward Trump’s undesired victory. As good Americans, we should all wish him success.

wanting trump to failMy usual pithy response to this nonsense is to point out that if I think the plane is being piloted by an unqualified, unstable, suicidal lunatic who’s more likely than not to crash it into a mountainside, then it’s my duty to do all I can to warn the other passengers. This sentiment has gotten me chided for lacking a positive attitude, a cardinal sin in a country where we’re supposed to be eternally optimistic that everything is going to work out just fine, no matter what.

My other standard response is that I don’t actually want Trump to fail but think it’s likely he will, so I pray he’s stopped before he does irreparable damage to the country. This response hasn’t won me any points with optimistic conservatives either. Besides, it’s not true. I do want Trump to fail. Bigly. Boldly. And in such a way that he can be ushered from the White House and back to his gold-plated penthouse in Trump Tower long before his first term is over.

Is my desire to see Trump fail the same as wanting the country-as-airplane to go down in a spectacular ball of flames? Does it make me somehow unpatriotic? Hardly. If my conservative friends were being honest, they’d admit that had Clinton won, they wouldn’t exactly be cheering for her success. Nor, when Obama won, were they hoping that he’d turn out to be a good president.

Eight years ago, before Obama even took office, conservatives were enthusiastically rooting for his failure. Rush Limbaugh said that he “disagreed fervently” with Republicans who’d “caved” and admitted they hoped Obama would succeed. Instead, Limbaugh openly declared that he wanted Obama to fail. A few months later, then Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal expressed the same sentiment, stating that it was fine for Republicans to want Obama to fail if they believed he was “jeopardizing the country.”

As Michael Grunwald detailed in his book The New New Deal, Republicans plotted to obstruct Obama from the start of his administration, a plot that included:

…secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor (in December 2008) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (in early January 2009) in which they laid out their daring (though cynical and political) no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency. “If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.”

As McConnell famously proclaimed: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Needless to say, not many conservatives took the advice they’re now dispensing when they call on liberals to support Trump and dismiss those upset by his victory as “crybabies.” How quickly they forget their own temper tantrums.

As a liberal, I’m obviously hoping Trump fails. That’s not to say I want him to fail in a way that would do tremendous damage to the country. However, I’m not about to root for his success in imposing his personal agenda. I hope that The Wall doesn’t get built, that Congress doesn’t gut the ACA, and that Trump’s appointees don’t destroy the very departments that they’ve been nominated to preside over. I hope that Republicans don’t turn Medicare into a voucher system or decimate Social Security. I pray that Democrats find a spine and take a page from the GOP playbook to obstruct Trump and his minions whenever and wherever possible.

I further hope that the media finally gets serious about examining Trump’s layers upon layers of conflicts of interest, and that they figure out to whom he owes money and how much he owes, instead of dissecting his every last obnoxious and distracting tweet as if it were gospel. I hope that they investigate fully his connections to Putin and other unsavory characters. I also hope that they keep pushing him to release his taxes, like every other presidential candidate has done for the last few decades.

I want Trump to fail because I believe that his “success” would endanger the country. A man who puts himself above the rules, who cannot control his own worst impulses, who seeks vengeance rather than reconciliation, who respects nothing other than his own desires, is not someone who should be at the helm of the most powerful country in the world. That he soon will be is something I find abominable. Trump’s every move needs to be scrutinized and people need to speak up whenever he crosses an ethical, moral, or Constitutional line.

Am I hopeful that any of these things will come to pass? Not particularly. No person or institution has yet to stop Trump on his path of destruction and I’m not about to to underestimate his capacity or that of his handlers to continue marching forward. It will take organized resistance and more than a little good luck to get him out of office as soon as possible. The goal would be made easier by a colossal failure on his part, one so egregious that even his opportunistic “supporters” in the GOP decide to cut loss and run.

So yes, I want Trump to fail. The sooner the better. In the words of Alden Solovy in his Liturgy for the Inauguration:

May G-d bless and keep the President away from…
… Obamacare.
… Twitter.
… the nuclear launch codes.
… Medicare and Social Security.
… the White House.
… acting on his misogynistic impulses.

May G-d bless and teach the President…
… humility, justice and kindness.
… to keep his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
… to build bridges of kindness and trust between all the peoples of the United States.
… to build bridges of kindness and trust between all the peoples of the world.
… the true meaning of compassion and human dignity.
… to see his inadequacies and his inappropriateness for the job.
… the difference between leading the nation and humiliating dissenters.

May G-d bless and save the President from himself,
And save us from him.

 


Staff Writer

Michelle Togut resides in North Carolina with her husband and pets. She has worked as an adjunct professor of history, editor and writer, and small-firm attorney, among other things. These days, she's trying to sell real estate. For fun, she reads political blogs of all persuasions, practices yoga, drinks wine, hikes, reads, and volunteers for a local animal rescue.

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206 thoughts on “Of Course I Want Trump to Fail

  1. This is one of those things that probably requires really, really taut message discipline.

    To the point where it strikes me as being better to say “I want Trump to not build the wall” or “I want Trump to not pass his tax plan” or “I want Trump to spend all day, every day, on the golf course” than “I want Trump to fail.”

    Trump did a pretty good job of framing things to get people to vote for him. “I’m going to Make America Great Again!”

    Success at making Trump fail will probably require saying something like “It is the job of the Democrats to make Obama a one-term president” and naming specific policies as things to oppose. Saying “I hope Trump fails!” will sound like you’re saying “I hope that America doesn’t get Made Great Again!” in a lot of ears. Might not be fair, but it strikes me as being the case.

    And if I’m right on this, saying that you hope Trump will fail is to send a message that will not work as intended.

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    • But wasn’t “we want Obama to fail” pretty much the operating stance of the GOP, the sentiment around which they organized themselves to oppose pretty much anything he supported? I grant you it isn’t an opposition plan. Democrats need to work one out and to be as steely in their opposition to various Trump proposals as the GOP was to Obama’s.

      I’m not proposing it as a slogan for Democrats to adopt. But I do want to see them work at undermining his agenda and that of the GOP and coming up with some viable alternatives and better marketing. “At least I’m not Trump” didn’t work too well for Hillary.

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          • So that’s where it becomes an issue of semantics for me. Saying you want a Presidency to fail has a LOT of implications, unless you literally oppose 100% of his agenda. And keep in mind, a lot of his agenda will be set by events, and completely unplanned. If you recall, Bush had a domestic agenda and no big international plans. Everyone thought he would be milquetoast and a one-and-done like his father. 20 months later he became a war president and easily won re-election. There are major events Trump will deal with in the next four years that we can’t foresee today. Those are really what make or break a President.

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            • My fear with Trump is that everything he’s ever shown us says he can’t handle a crisis. He’s mentally unstable.

              I was no fan of W and mostly thought he was a terrible president. But I will give him props for the way he handled the immediate aftermath of 9-11. Going to Ground Zero, urging people not to blame all Muslims for the actions of the terrorists–he stepped up to the plate in the way he needed to. He didn’t fly off the handle.

              I don’t think Trump is capable of such behavior. The guy flies off in a Twitter rage at the slightest hint of an insult. He’s a malignant narcissist. Sooner or later, someone is going to bomb something Trump. Do you really think he will be able to handle the situation without going ballistic and endangering us all? I surely don’t. That’s why I’d like to see him fail to handle a relatively minor crisis early on and get neutered, rather than wait until something truly awful happens. I’d trust Pence’s instincts far more than Trump’s even though there’s not many Pence policies I support.

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                • Kind of like Obama mentioning himself 40 times during the Cubs visit to celebrate their victory?

                  Gee, notme, that might actually mean something if we had some other examples to measure it against. Is it all that unusual for someone to use the word “I” or otherwise make mention of themselves in a thirty-minute speech? Obama lived in Chicago for quite a while and his wife was from the city, so it’s not like they have no connection to the team.

                  Did Obama take credit for the Cubs’ victory anywhere in the speech? Don’t think so. Trump surely would, just as he takes credit for other things that don’t involve him. Most politicians are narcissists on some level. Trump represents narcissism on steroids.

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                • Wow, those quotes are damning:

                  “I will say to the Cubs, ‘it took you long enough,’” Obama said, before regaling the team with his memories about being a White Sox fan.

                  Did you see the shameless use of the pronoun I there? If the quotes they pulled out are representative of those 40 mentions, the man sounds totally self-obsessed.

                  He then said what it meant to Michelle to see the Cubs win the championship.

                  Intolerable! I shudder!

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              • Michelle,
                Believe it or not, Clinton would have been worse on the “mentally unstable and responds VERY POORLY to bullying” scale.
                Talking a war within 200 days of her starting office.

                Pence is a yes man. Same as Kaine was, and about as dumb and ineffectual. Not surprised you want Pence, as you did want Hillary. They all work on the same team, you know (The fun part about Trump is he’s so BAD at being on the team).

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      • But wasn’t “we want Obama to fail” pretty much the operating stance of the GOP, the sentiment around which they organized themselves to oppose pretty much anything he supported?

        I’m not talking about the stance.

        I’m talking about the messaging.

        I’m 100% down with wanting Trump to not succeed at more or less 96% or 97% of the things that he’s said he wanted to do. I’m cool with that.

        I’m thinking that there is currently a problem with how the democrats message things and I’m not sure that they have the message discipline to pull off “We want Trump to fail”.

        Trump says a lot of things that sound superficially good. “I want a superficially good thing to happen!”

        “We want Trump to fail!” is *EASILY* twisted into “I don’t want superficially good thing to happen!” and then that becomes a swamp. “Well, it sounds like what you’re *REALLY* saying is that you don’t want good things to happen!” “There’s a difference between superficially good things and good things!” and we’re off to the races.

        On top of that, if Trump is coming to the negotiating table wanting X and asking for 3X and he ends up with 1.2X, then selling this as “Trump asked for 3X and he only got 1.2X AND HE’S A FAILURE!!!!” is to, seriously, misapprehend what’s happening at the negotiating table.

        I’m down with wanting Trump to fail.

        I’m just noticing that I’m not sure that we know how to measure what Trump failing looks like and some of the things that might sound like failures to one side sound like victories to the other. (Easiest example to come to hand is the recent story about how Trump’s Wall will be paid for by taxpayers and not by Mexico.)

        Democrats need to work one out and to be as steely in their opposition to various Trump proposals as the GOP was to Obama’s.

        I agree wholeheartedly with this.

        But the danger is in mistaking Trump not getting his opening bid for Trump failing. If the opposition makes that mistake, we’re going to be so sick of winning, you’re not going to believe it.

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        • I agree and I’m not suggesting Democrats use the phrase as a message. My main point was that it’s disingenuous of me to say I want him to succeed because I don’t. Just as it would be disingenuous of a lot of the conservatives who are posting this kind of nonsense to say they’d want Hillary to succeed had she won. It’s bullshit. Large numbers of them think she should be in jail.

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          • I’m sure that you are painfully aware that even using the phrase (even if you’re just pointing out where you’re coming from) turns out to be exceptionally distracting.

            As here, so nationally.

            This is going to take some pretty taut message discipline.

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            • I’m sure that you are painfully aware that even using the phrase (even if you’re just pointing out where you’re coming from) turns out to be exceptionally distracting.

              I’d like to think that I have the power to distract more than a handful of people, but alas I don’t.

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          • My main point was that it’s disingenuous of me to say I want him to succeed because I don’t.

            To me that’s a totally honest and legitimate thing to say.

            It reminds me of my feeling, deep down, that I’m not really patriotic because I feel disingenuous saying I love my country. I’m grateful I live here and I want good things to happen and I even get misty eyed at well-done renditions of the Star Spangled Banner, but I don’t love the US, not by a long shot.

            (((Lest you think I’m doing a reductio as a way to criticize you, I’m not. I really do think it’s honest and legitimate for you to admit you want Trump to fail when so many others, like me, are repeating, mantra-like, that they want him to “succeed.”)))

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          • There are weapons that the left has that the right isn’t very good at using (but I think we’ve noticed that they’re getting better at them).

            There are weapons that the right has that the left isn’t very good at using (yet, I’m sure. Yet.).

            I suppose we could say “that’s not fair”…

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        • ” selling this as “Trump asked for 3X and he only got 1.2X AND HE’S A FAILURE!!!!” ”

          Which is, you’ll note, pretty much exactly what’s been happening–see Carrier “well he only saved SOME jobs not ALL jobs and they MIGHT still go away!” or Ford “well they were probably not gonna move the plant ANYWAY”.

          “There are weapons that the left has that the right isn’t very good at using[.]”

          And there are weapons that the left has that they don’t even recognize as weapons, because they were not built for the purpose, and the right is starting to pick them up and use them.

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      • And how did that strategy work out for them? Obama will have completed two terms of service two days from now despite their relentless efforts. Why emulate a losing strategy? Emulate their winning strategy instead. You know, the one where they took over government at all levels from the bottom up.

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      • But wasn’t “we want Obama to fail” pretty much the operating stance of the GOP, the sentiment around which they organized themselves to oppose pretty much anything he supported?

        And Democrats decried this as unpatriotic. They’re trying to be a little bit consistent about that now, if only to the point of not explicitly adopting the phrase. (Substantive opposition and resistance are of course completely right and necessary.)

        Jaybird is correct. It is much better to say they want him to succeed by improving his policy aims (comprehensively). (Hey, for that matter, he could even switch parties (back)!) Or even that they want most of his current agenda to fail, but that if the country succeeds under him (which could require him adopting their agenda?), they’ll welcome that.

        Really almost anything just to avoid that particular phrase, because, as Democrats recognize, it’s a universal acid for all productive cooperation going forward. Not because it’s not appropriate in these extraordinary circumstances, but because your opponents remember it, and you open yourself to tit-for-tat reprisals if you take this option. And, over the long term, laws like PPACA, which Democrats are much more invested in working that Republicans, just are not going to work well or at all if the dominant relation between the parties is wishing each other’s comprehensive failure, meaning that the GOP would never buy in whatsoever to any part of the health law. Etc.

        I also think that such a situation contributes to this attitude hardening among Blue vs. Red America, because political elites are very influential in their rhetoric and behavior over regular people. Are we going to have half the country hoping for systematic economic collapse any time a president of the other party gets in office? Because that is real stuff of presidential failure. And that’s where it does matter what you or I as individuals think (and say. Actually, much more what we say.).

        So, by all means, say that you want the bulk of his current agenda to fail, or, more optimistically, be replaced wholesale by yours. Because that would be good for America! But every president has American prosperity, somehow or other, on her agenda. Wishing for a president to fail in that really is wising ill on the country (if only for our years). Unfortunately, I think some people actually feel this way. But we shouldn’t. And we shouldn’t say it, because it creates self-accelerating negative political dynamics that will only lead to deeper and deeper political dysfunction. And we all need our politics and government to function well.

        Especially Democrats.

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        • I get what you’re saying Michael but I personally want to see Trump driven from office and humiliated into hiding for the rest of his life, preferably on a small deserted island with only Newt Gingrich and Rudy Guliani for company. And no access to Twitter.

          I’m not recommending that Democrats publicly take this attitude toward him.

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  2. “My usual pithy response to this nonsense is to point out that if I think the plane is being piloted by an unqualified, unstable, suicidal lunatic who’s more likely than not to crash it into a mountainside, then it’s my duty to do all I can to warn the other passengers.”

    I always enjoy reading statements like this, from either side, and especially the “we must do all we can to stop XXX. Let’s carry this analogy a bit further. If you really believed that the pilot of the plane you were in was “unqualified, unstable, suicidal lunatic” you wouldn’t stop at warning the passengers. After all, you’re already in the air (election). No, you want to bail out of the plane or to get that plane on the ground ASAP. That means storming the cockpit and putting in a qualified pilot-by force if necessary if you can’t convince the crew to do something.

    Will you subdue the crew to get access to the cockpit? Will you drag the pilot out of the cockpit? What will you do if anyone of these people resist? Are you prepared to use lethal force, not only on the pilot but on the crew? Are you prepared to give your life in the pursuit of taking over the cock pit? If not, your words of “everything” kinda fall short don’t they? In other words, it’s all talk and you’re going to sit there in your seat and bitch, or complain to the crew, or act up and maybe get put in plasticuffs by the crew.

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    • Which is why I described the whole analogy as nonsense. The country isn’t like a giant airplane and my wanting Trump to fail isn’t like my hoping the plane will crash.

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      • Indeed. I’m sure of it. If you’re going to play in politics, the question is how much crap are you willing to eat to ensure your side wins. I choose not to sit at the table. Frankly, I’m not sure who would have been worse, HRC or Trump. The only thing I’ve seen from Trump so far is causing the progressives/liberals in my area to pull out their hair and have “panic attacks”. That’s a net good. I suspect the republic will survive this “crisis”. If not, thanks for all the fun.

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    • Counterpoint: United 93 was an unusual event, with passengers displaying unusual bravery. I don’t know if I personally would be capable of that. The fact that I personally am not about to take up arms or escape the country doesn’t mean I can’t be worried about where things are headed.

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      • I rolled with the airplane analogy, but it doesn’t matter really. When people make statements like “We must do everything to opposed Trump” or “We cannot allow him to take office” or “then it’s my duty to do all I can to warn the other passengers.” I want to know where someone is prepared to draw the line.

        Example: Had a convo with a woman I was dating about the school bus of kids with a bomb and a captured terrorist. Is it ok to torture the terrorist to find the bomb? What if it’s half a busload of kids? 1 kid? 5 terrorists. Draw me a line of actions and tell me where on the line of torture you will not go past.

        So in this case, I want to know, when people make statements about opposing Trump like the examples above, just how far are you prepared to go? Because if claim you must do everything to oppose him, and all you’re willing to do is march in a protest, I’m thinking you’re being a bit overly dramatic and I can safely ignore your comments as basically bullshit.

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  3. This whole question of failing bothers me because it becomes a question of absolutes. It hinges on Obama being 100% bad (he wasn’t) and Trump being 100% bad (he won’t be).

    I wanted Obama to fail on certain things. He says his biggest regret was not using the anti-gun sentiments after Sandy Hook to get new legislation passed. I’m glad he failed on that front. But I’m also glad he mostly succeeded. We came out of the recession. We’ve dialed back our involvement in two stupid wars. I don’t know that he can claim credit for SSM but it’s cool that is done. Marijuana is legal in a bunch of places and Obama told the DEA to leave them alone. He’s letting non-violent drug offenders out of jail. So yeah, I’m happy that when judged as a whole, you could say he was successful. And I’m glad I wished him the best in 2008 and that wish mostly came true.

    So…in 4 years I’ll judge Trump’s success or failure based on what he actually did. That’s the true measure for me.

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    • Is someone who gets a 98/100 a test a failure?

      What about someone who gets a 2/100?

      Your logic could deem the first a failure and the second not.

      I’m not sure you know what the word means.

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  4. Would you have been ok if McConnell had added that he would work together with Obama anywhere they have common ground? I’d bet that’s the position you’d want to take toward Trump, right? Work together where possible, oppose his agenda where necessary, and get him out the door as quickly as you can.

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    • It depends, does succeeding in areas of common ground provide air cover for things you disagree with more? If a hypothetical infrastructure plan that I supported gave sufficient cover and popularity to enable a Muslim tracking database, you’d pretty much have to nope out.

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    • Had McConnell actually been willing to work together with the President, than yes. But at least he was honest enough, in his own weaselly way, to say that he wasn’t. His policy was burnt earth wherever possible and he made no bones about it.

      If it were anyone else but Trump or some equivalent bully boy demagogue then yes, I’d want Democrats to work with that person where there was common ground. But I think Trump is in a different category altogether. I don’t want Democrats to normalize a guy who thinks it’s okay to tweet out New Year’s greetings that basically lump all his opponents into the category of “enemies.” I don’t want them to cooperate with someone who can casually describe grabbing women by their privates, or to mockingly imitate a disabled person, or fume that a Mexican-American judge won’t treat him fairly because of the judge’s heritage, or go into a twitter rage anytime he feels insulted, or the list goes on and on.

      Trump is different and not in a good way. I think it sets a bad precedent to normalize his behavior and pretend that he’s qualified for the position.

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      • Having ties to big baddies with money doesn’t distinguish between Trump and Clinton.
        Encouraging what most people consider to be appalling sexual behavior doesn’t distinguish between Trump and Clinton.

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        • What appalling sexual behavior did Hillary commit?

          I was a Sanders voter and thought Clinton was a poor candidate on several levels. I’m not about to argue that she was a saint but I wasn’t about to vote for Mr. Reality Show. If I didn’t live in what was assumed to be a swing state (turns out not so much), I might not have voted for her but Never Trump.

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          • Michelle,
            I said encouraging. I meant encouraging. If I want to be nice and point at the stuff everyone knows, then I can point at her adulterous husband. You don’t think he stopped once he left office, do you?

            If I want to be mean, I say “how the hell did you think she got that much money?” And I point over at the nice tropical island where things you definitely wouldn’t approve of happened. (And it’s not “Bill was there” that was interesting. It’s who ELSE was there.).

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      • The fun that I was having was that McConnell did say that he was willing to work with President Obama wherever he could, in the same interview. It’s just not as famous as the quote that everyone extracts from it. And of course they did work together on some legislation.

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  5. Yay! Let’s eVeryBody Cheer for MARTIAL LAW!!11!!!!

    … wait, was that NOT how you pictured Trump failing?

    That’s the real issue with idiots. They don’t think of all the massive ways one can “fail” at being the President.

    2% shot of Martial Law by Monday.
    THANK YOU LIBERALS.

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      • Of course. I’ll cheerfully extend it to McConnell and everyone else who wanted Obama to fail and was stupid enough to say it, same as Trump.
        Because both sides do this, and it’s really, really stupid.

        You fail at being president? People die. A lot of people die, maybe. (Arguably, GWB did fail at being president. It was NOT a good situation. He dealt with it by getting drunk a lot).

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        • Not necessarily. Even if you’re a good president, people might die. And even if you’re a failed president, the system might work as it should to get you out of the way before you inflict irreparable damage.

          I’d be a lot more careful flinging the term “idiot” around if I were you, Kim.

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          • Michelle,
            Of course not necessarily. The next President might fail at being president by getting caught sodomizing Putin (whether or not Putin enjoyed it). Nobody dies, but it’s hella embarrassing and then people have a real case for “conflict of interest”.

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  6. Michelle, I feel like I asked you some pointed questions on the Bad Moon Rising thread, questions that you didn’t address. It seems like you haven’t addressed them in this article either. To put it simply: how can we take seriously your claim that you view Trump as uniquely bad when most of your complaints about him are standard politics?

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    • Is it standard politics to have somebody assume office when we know very little about his connections to Russian and Chinese money lenders and he refuses to provide any level of transparency to ensure he lacks serious conflicts of interest? Especially when what little we do know suggests that he owes major change to Russian lenders with deep connections to Putin?

      Is it standard politics to have a president who not only won’t divest himself from his global network of businesses but won’t even provide any transparency into those connections and how they might affect his decision-making process? Is there any reason not to suspect that he isn’t going to use the office for personal gain to advance his interests and those of his cronies? I never supported Bush, but at least I trusted that he wasn’t going to use the office to establish an American kleptocracy.

      Is it standard politics to have somebody tweet out his displeasure with anyone who looks crosswise at him? To show zero ability to control his emotions, particularly his outrage?

      Is it normal politics for someone to hire as one of their top advisers a man who connects himself to the alt-right and has used his media outlet to promote white nationalism?

      I also think it’s pretty clear from the guy’s behavior that he has a major personality disorder and is mentally unfit for the office. Which makes him dangerous.

      I doubt these answers will satisfy you, Pinky, but for me nothing about Trump is politics as usual.

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      • Isn’t whether we want Democratic officeholders, or just Americans, to ‘normalize’ (god I hate that word) Trump (and his disgusting personal record) really an entirely separate question from whether he succeeds? Or at least largely separate? Because there are legitimately scary outstanding questions (to put it mildly) around Trump and Russia… we should hope for his comprehensive failure? A lot of things could go well for him that would in fact be good for all of us, such as a good economy, even as no one ever normalizes him (even though an entire party at least is going to normalize him). I don’t see why his propensity to tweet in the early a.m. hours should make me hope for a shitty economy starting on Monday… but neither make me any more accepting of a new Muslim-deportation force of roving kidnap units. Good aims and policies remain good; bad remain bad. We shouldn’t let him abnormalize our politics; and hoping for presidential failure, which means societal harm (because, again, hoping for the failure of pars of his agenda is a different, totally normal, thing) is abnormal politics. Whereas hoping he doesn’t do the bad things he’s talked about is both normal politics, and is not hoping for his general failure (and thus avoids hoping for harm to the country).

        Moreover, even if he is never normalized, aren’t there areas in which you cannot deny you wish him to succeed? Do you hope for economic collapse? At least root against
        economic improvement? If not, you’re really not putting much oomph into your effort to hope rump fails, and I would argue you don’t. As we’ve said above, you really just want him to fail in particular parts (or large parts) of his agenda. But not on some of the broadest aims, because failure there really does mean harm to the country. Which is really just… normal politics.

        Ultimately, American politics always remains pretty normal, and normalized. Trump the person is not normal, and perhaps should never be normalized. And there are parts of his agenda that every American should hope fail, and many more that people on the left should. But I don’t know that his attitudes about women are something that should make us hope for comprehensive failure… which means bad times for all of us.

        Maybe it’s easiest to look at it this way: it’s possible that Trump enacting his agenda, in many parts of it, would constitute failure, not success. A president with the agenda of nuking Los Angeles who did so would not be seen as, and would not be, a successful president. But if he were prevented from doing so, and then managed to steer the country through eight years of peace and prosperity, he would be seen as a success. We should root for such things.

        And so with Trump. There are parts of his agenda that would be harmful for the country if he did them. If he doesn’t do them it will contribute on net to his success. We should hope for that. And hope for his success in the broadest terms, because at the 50,000-foot level of analysis, presidential success is simply measured by societal success.

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  7. Before we can answer “Do I want Trump to fail” we have to answer, “What is he planning to do?”

    And right now there really isn’t any coherent answer to that question.
    For every statement he makes, there is a direct contradiction, often within the same breath.

    He wants to build a wall, but maybe just a virtual one. Maybe right away, but maybe in a while.
    He wants to get rid of Obamacare, but have great insurance for everyone. Maybe now, maybe later.
    He wants to have a tough muscular foreign policy, but without a lot of war.
    He wants to build up our military, but cut government spending by 10%.

    Like any salesman or politician, he knows how to speak endlessly offering half statements and vague promises that can mean anything, or nothing, to anyone and everyone.

    The only pole star, the constant guiding light seems to be what is in Trumps material interest at the very moment.
    His ego, his vanity, his pocketbook are the only loyalties he has.

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    • I think that’s part of why Michelle keeps falling back to standard left/right politics. She wants to flesh out the word “bad”, but without specifics to complain about, she describes Trump as opposing the New Deal.

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      • I’ve come around to the notion Berluscioni strategy, where instead of focusing on Trump’s bizarre personality, we aim for specifics.
        I ask my Trump supporting friends on Facebook:

        Who voted for the repeal of the pre-existing conditions clause?
        Who wants to cut off disability for older sick workers?
        Who wants to reduce Medicare coverage and shift the risk to individuals?
        Who wants a trade war with China, or Europe, our biggest trading partners and buyers of most of our stuff?

        These are specific things that affect Trump voters, things that I know are widely unpopular, but that people chose to ignore during the campaign.

        Its kind of like how feminists don’t fight over the word, but will approach other women with “OK, so you’re not a feminist, fine, but will you work to make sure that prenatal care is covered, or that family leave is available?”

        As I said before, I’m convinced that while the “conservative” label is popular, conservative policies aren’t.

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        • So, you say you want to talk about specifics. You just said that we don’t know Trump’s specifics. Where does that leave us? This conversation becomes nothing more than saying “I don’t like what I don’t like”.

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          • Well, Trump was reported as having said some things that, if he meant them in a certain way and also held certain other beliefs, could be interpreted as bad, so I guess we can be mad about that?

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            • That’s awfully parsimonious and epistemically cautious, given that the guy constantly talks about banning Muslim immigration and 35% tariffs and such. I’m not particularly inclined to calm down when the argument for calm is that our president-elect is such a brazenly ignorant liar that we shouldn’t take any of his awful policy promises seriously.

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          • We don’t really know what Trump wants, but we know precisely and specifically what Congress wants.
            We know they want insurance companies to be able to drop people with pre-existing conditions, for example.

            Who here wants that?

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            • As I’ve said, if you have policy disagreements, I don’t have a problem if they’re framed as policy disagreements. If they’re framed as “Trump is unlike anything we’ve seen before”, then you’re both watering down the impact of that statement with policy disagreements and spiking the policy disagreements with that statement.

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              • Can’t it be both. I obviously have policy disagreements with Trump, but also feel he is unfit to be president based on his personality, temperament, psychological state, financial conflicts of interest, and lack of requisite knowledge about how the presidency and the world operate (and apparent inability to remedy that deficit), etc.

                Is my fear regarding the possible trade war with China a disagreement on policy or temperament or both. I’d say both.

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              • The problem is separating the two. Trump himself is not really like anything we’ve seen before. Ryan and Pence are exactly what we’ve seen before (they are who we thought they were and we went ahead and crowned them).
                Unfortunately, they’re mixed up in an unappetizing bucket just like Mr. Creosote’s dinner.
                I want them all to fail to do what they intend, of course. Some of it is just normal politics, if in starker relief than usual due to the extremists at the wheel. But Trump himself? Possibly compromised, certainly in conflict of interest, completely unqualified both intellectually and temperamentally? The Doctor threw the wrong bad-haired tyrant into a closet…

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          • Pinky, when there are more specifics I’ll address them. For right now, I mostly concerned that he’s picked a lot of people to head up agencies who have no clue what the agency does (Ben Carson, for instance) or who seem actively hostile to the agency’s purpose (Rick Perry, the guy appointed to head the EPA, Betsy DeVos, who doesn’t seem to get that whole separation between state and church thing).

            I’m waiting with bated breath to see Trump’s health care plan, which is supposed to be less expensive than Obamacare, with fewer deductibles, and truly universal. I’m sure he’ll release it right about the same time he releases his taxes, which he promised to do if he won.

            My husband describes Trump as something of a Rorsarch Test. Because other than The Wall and the Muslim ban, most of his proposals were so amorphous people could read into them what they want. What exactly does make America great mean anyway? It’s a catchy saying but wide open to definition.

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            • “or who seem actively hostile to the agency’s purpose”

              But if you wanted to reduce the influence / amount of regulations, etc. in a particular agency, wouldn’t the smart thing be to put someone in as head of that agency?

              IE elections have consequences.

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              • But if you wanted to reduce the influence / amount of regulations, etc. in a particular agency, wouldn’t the smart thing be to put someone in as head of that agency?

                No. It wouldn’t. Undoing a regulatory regime probably takes more specialized knowledge and acumen than setting one up does. Look at the energy, telecom and transportation deregulation done under the Carter administration.

                If Donald Trump really wanted to drain the swamp, he’d be appointing plumbers. The fact that he’s appointing conservative activists and people with the most tenuous connection to the relevant policy area suggests that he is not very serious when it comes to public administration.

                Of course, it may be the case that Trump appoints figureheads to run agencies and his team then finds the plumbers to fill out the rest of the political appointments. It’s likely that someone in the transition team is telling themselves that is exactly what they’re doing. Whether it comes to fruition or not, we will see.

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                • I heard an interview yesterday that went like this:

                  “Do you think Trump is serious with his claims of Doing X”
                  “Well, the guy he appointed that would be in charge of X has been pretty firmly in favor of Not X for like a decade. But maybe he’s changed his mind and hasn’t said anything, because Trump was pretty keen on X. But maybe he hasn’t and appointing him is evidence Trump has softened on X. I guess we’ll find out”.

                  I’ve heard variants of that a LOT.

                  I don’t think Trump knows what any of his cabinet appointees actually believe nor does he really care. He’s had short-list candidates who disagreed with each other (Tillerson and Bolton, the latter of whom Trump claims he dismissed from consideration because of his mustache).

                  There is no plan to deregulate. There is no plan at all. There is just whomever Trump liked, and whatever they plan to do will be fine with Trump until it’s not and he can gleefully fire them.

                  There’s a vast amount of denial about Trump and it’s darkly funny. People are trying to read tea leaves on Trump’s choices like he’s planned them out for months, instead of just picking whomever he liked the looks of (or the nicknames of). This is a man who routinely contradicts himself, his party, and has appointed nominees whose agenda contradicts his state one and each other’s.

                  There’s no tea leaves. There’s no agenda. There’s no plan.

                  We have a President who never planned to BE President, who was shocked when he became President, and literally doesn’t have any sort of plan or agenda. There’s just a crowd to play to.

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    • There is a thread on LGM discussing Trump’s foreign policy views. The commentator who said it best said when Trump views himself as a Chess Master/Transactionalist but in reality acts like a Buffon/Useful Idiot.

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  8. I’ll be the liberal who chimes in to say great essay and I agree.

    I’ve been largely thinking that we are really several nations within the same boundaries and using the same form of government. Maybe it has always been this way. The roughest divide is red v. blue but there are probably more divides that one can imagine between elite v. non-elite on both the right and left, based on geography, etc.

    I don’t want Trump and the GOP to succeed in enacting their agenda because their agenda does not fit what I view the role of government to be and my ideals as a liberal. The ACA gave healthcare to tens of millions of people. The estimates I’ve seen for repeal is that anywhere from 20-32 million people can lose insurance. The thing that gauls me about the GOP politicians is the rank hypocrisy in their repeal and replace/delay stance. They don’t have a plan for replace because many or most of them have a theological belief that the government should not provide or guarantee healthcare. There is one conservative pundit who says the GOP should just say this but the political class knows this would be massively unpopular and require the courage of convictions so they do not say such things.

    One wonders what a debate would be like where politicians and pundits were forced to express their ideology on the role of government in stark terms without any cover language or spin. Would GOP polls get elected by keeping to a strict Nozick style state that does the bare minimum and openly needing to say “I don’t think it is the role of the government to provide health insurance.” Would the Democrats won if forced to speak in terms straight out of Rawls? Could the GOP argue in terms that would please Nozick without alienating the social conservatives and theocons like Dreher?

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    • That would be in interesting debate and I would like to see it as well. Do you think Obamacare would have passed if Obama had told the truth and told folks that they wouldn’t be able to keep their plans even if they liked them?

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      • I’ll chime in and say this would be a most excellent debate.

        Who the hell really wants a free market in health care?

        Seriously, who?

        Who on this blog, reading this right now, wants that, or could afford it?

        Who wants to get rid of Social Security, Medicare disability, insurance, unemployment insurance?

        Who wants to legalize child labor, while simultaneously getting rid of public schooling?

        Who the hell wants any of these things, that are the fetish dreams of conservative ideologues and pundits?

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          • How would it handle pre-existing conditions? How would the individual markets do risk pooling? The elderly? I’m not saying that a free market in health insurance is impossible, but if you don’t want to simply write off a big chunk of the population, you’re going to have to explain how that’s going to happen.

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              • Right. It would work pretty well for the majority of people, but the less fortunate would be out in the cold. We make a lot of policy based on those less common cases because their outcomes are so horrific, but that policy isn’t necessarily great for the people who aren’t edge cases.

                Ultimately, though, that’s what insurance is. Most people in an insurance scheme *should* expect to put more money in than they get out, and that ratio gets worse as you add more high risk peopel or as they worst case payout gets larger. Any alternative where that isn’t true would either require that we don’t take care of uninsurable people or that we make them medical wards of the state. Neither of those options seems politically tenable.

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        • “Who the hell really wants a free market in health care?”

          We have a free market in corrective optics and that seems to work OK.

          “But insurance!” Yeah, insurance covered between a third and a fifth of the actual cost of what I’m wearing now. maybe it would have paid for steel wire frames and untreated glass lenses, but anything more than that comes out of my own pocket, with a vast array of choices both in fashion and function.

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            • He get’s help through charity / charities.

              He negotiates time payments.

              He leaves the country and gets his care in another country with cheaper costs.

              He dies.

              How many possible outcomes would you like me to type out?

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              • As many as it takes to reach clarity.
                Because what I hear a lot is glib handwaving where a free market still provides, somehow, medical care for everyone, maybe with underpants gnomes or divine intervention.

                I’m trying to get to the admission, that if you are sick and need care, you are allowed to die.

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                • “I’m trying to get to the admission, that if you are sick and need care, you are allowed to die.”

                  I’m cool with allowing people to die.

                  Are you happy now?

                  Now, I drive in a big eastern city quite a lot and recently a lot of homeless people died from exposure. With all the social programs , ACA, etc., they guys have all kinds of resources available to to them. But they essentially died, because the city opens the weather shelters at a specific temperature and the actual temp was slightly above that. So the free market didn’t kill them, the city essentially did. Demonstrate your outrage on that.

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                  • “If we only restricted the iron triangle a little bit more, think of all the people we could save!”

                    At some point the only way to save humanity is let this kind of thought process get what it is asking for, really hard.

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                  • So the free market didn’t kill them, the city essentially did.

                    I’m pretty sure the weather killed those people, and both the city and free market failed to save them. The difference is that sometimes the city succeeds. The free market fails to keep the homeless warm pretty much every time.

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                    • Actually, because of the way bureaucracy works (very little flexibility) there are rules about when the shelters can be opened. So, it can be a day 1 degree warmer than the temp to open the shelters and the city won’t open the shelters, ’cause rules. So, in essence, the city bureaucracy helped kill those homeless folks. That’s the kinda stuff you get with gov’t. Frankly, I consider a gov’t “failure” as worse than a free market (which this country DOES NOT HAVE) because the claim from people who support gov’t action is that it’s SUPPOSED TO BE A GOD DAMN SAFETY NET. Yeah. How’s that safety net working out. And again. Where is YOUR outrage that gov’t failed the most vulnerable of our society? Huh? Huh?

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                      • But this means you’re allowing every institution to set its own bar. “System X doesn’t save homeless people, but at least it doesn’t pretend to.”

                        I for one do find the event outrageous. I fail to see a coherent conservative/libertarian source of outrage, though. From those ideological perspectives, “the government allowed the homeless to die” is like “the government painted the post office blue” — a neutral thing, not an actively bad one, because government isn’t “supposed” to shelter anyone in the first place.

                        (Unless perhaps the argument is that there would have been private-charity shelters in the absence of government ones — that the government is like a friend who promises to pick up your kids from daycare and never showed up, which isn’t morally equivalent to never promising in the first place and then also not showing up.)

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                        • I’m not arguing for a side. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of advocating a position that gov’t needs to help people (because the free market or capitalism won’t) and then radio silence when what was advocated generated a result similar to not having the gov’t intervention.

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                      • So is there some natural state of the world that this government operation displaced where, if it didn’t exist, those people would have gotten shelter and been protected from the elements? Because what I’m reading sounds like a system that’s flawed, but better than what it replaced.

                        You seem to be making the argument that it killed those people, which sort of implies that they wouldn’t have died without it.

                        If you’re asking me if I would support making the shelter available all the time, the answer is yes.

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                        • 1st Para: No, what I’m saying is that I’m not seeing people recognize that having gov’t do it doesn’t necessarily “fix” the problem-as this case clearly demonstrates.

                          2nd Para: No, I’m not implying anything in that regard.

                          3rd Para: No I wasn’t.

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                          • Sure, the problem isn’t fixed. Almost no problems are ever fixed. That’s really not an interesting question. Is the problem less severe than without the intervention? I’d say so.

                            Did the city, in any meaningful sense of the word, “kill” those people? No, that’s just silly. This is like saying that public schools cause illiteracy because some kids don’t learn to read or that fire stations cause people to die in fires because they don’t save everybody.

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            • “OK, lets follow this thru. A guy named Density Duck gets cancer and needs chemo. He can’t afford the astronomical cost. Your recommendation is …?”

              Well, according to you, some sucker named Chip Daniels oughta pay for it.

              And, see, I recognize that what you’re trying to get me to say here is “no there is no possible circumstance under which Density Duck should just die”, at which point my entire argument blows up because any lack of coverage I propose can be countered with “WELL WHAT IF HE DIES, YOU SAID HE SHOULDN’T DIE”.

              So let me say now–yes, if he can’t afford the treatments and nobody is willing to pay, then he dies.

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              • See, this gets to the nut of my assertion.
                To you, and Damon, and a few others, “Let them die” sounds reasonable and right, and well, thats your opinion, fine.

                But how do you think Mr. Average Trump Voter feels?

                Well, I can tell you because I know some.

                Specifically a friend of mine is in his late 50’s, a one truck contractor, modest income, diagnosed with cancer and currently receiving wildly expensive treatment which is mostly covered (praise be to Obama).
                He voted Trump, and I can damn sure tell you it wasn’t in hopes of a “Let them die” type of policy proposal.

                My assertion here is that conservative ideology is extremely popular.

                In the abstract, when it is faraway happening to someone else.

                When it is me, Mr. MAGA hat?

                Hell no.

                Mr. MAGA hat wants to live, and if that means coercive taxation, centralized top down Big Government, then bring it on!

                If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has gotten sick.

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                • Ah, I see. So it’s not me or anyone here that you’re shitting on for being a hypocrite, it’s some dude that nobody knows and maybe doesn’t exist outside of your head. It’s some dude, who has whatever characteristics you need him to have so that your argument works out. It’s some dude who has duct tape around his head so the straw won’t fall out.

                  “a friend of mine”

                  lol. How about you go tell your “friend” how you talk about him on the Internet. Let me know how that goes.

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                  • Well, I understand.
                    This is the internet, and for all you know my Trump friend may be as real as Hillary Clinton’s ninja hit squad team that we hear so much about these parts.

                    No worries.

                    But I don’t see this as shitting on people, so much as making a comment about human nature, in that we love virtues in the abstract, but struggle with them in our own lives.

                    I mean, we all love the idea of chastity and sobriety, but who was a virgin their wedding night?

                    We all love the idea of fiscal conservatism, rugged independence and prudence.

                    But who here- and here I mean specifically you, me, Tod, Kazzy, Jaybird, everyone here- who here has socked away enough cash to live healthy and independently without any societal help for the rest of their lives?

                    Because for the average person with the average life with the average number of years of sickness, that would mean north of a million. Cash. By the time you are say, 50.

                    I sure as hell haven’t and I’m 56.

                    Once again- I’m betting that the vast majority of Americans really don’t want to reduce Social Security, Medicare, or even Obamacare, not when they look honestly at their own lives and finances.

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                    • “not when they look honestly at their own lives and finances.”

                      The majority of americans don’t even plan for retirment. They just assume SS and medicare will cover it. They are wrong. But see how nice it is to have a built in constituency? The programs will never get eliminated because no one did anything to save on their own and now they NEED those programs. And they need even more money that that. And the wheel turns further…and another generation is enslaved to the same thinking and the status quo continues and those in power have said power increased.

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                    • “for all you know my Trump friend may be as real as Hillary Clinton’s ninja hit squad team that we hear so much about these parts.”

                      Oh no no no, I don’t doubt that your friend is real. I also don’t doubt that he’d be real upset if you mentioned how you’re talking about him to strangers on the Internet–and using him as a derogatory example.

                      “we all love the idea of chastity and sobriety, but who was a virgin their wedding night?”

                      oh cool now we’re slut-shaming! Rockin’.

                      “I’m betting that the vast majority of Americans really don’t want to reduce Social Security, Medicare, or even Obamacare, not when they look honestly at their own lives and finances.”

                      Wait, when did Social Security and Medicare get to be part of this package? I only thought we were talking about Obamacare.

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                      • First, I have directly asked my friend this question- “Did you vote for repeal of the pre-existing condition clause?”

                        Like many others, Trump has tested our friendship- I took their taunts of locking Hillary up in stride, he takes my Trump-bashing in stride.

                        And didn’t you know that Paul Ryan and many conservative thinktanks and pundits are now, and have for a long time talked about making radical changes to Social Security and Medicare?

                        Block granting Medicare, vouchers, even bringing back Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme?

                        Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare- all three of these are in the crosshairs because they all work together.

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                • The problem with whats going on is that all the social bag of goodies has resulted in a twenty story construct. Most of the liberal faction is like: ‘hey look how far we have come! all the way up to the 20th story, we can see so far!’ then it’s like, ‘look how far it is down to the ground, you don’t want to jump, nobody would like to hit the ground that hard!’

                  So people are looking at the girders, and are like, can we take this thing down a story at a time? Because chemo up here is like 70,000 to 120,000 bucks, but down there where a real free market would be, it’s closer to 2000 bucks.

                  It is utterly foolish to keep telling the people how bad the fall would be and how they should feel all glad about how things are. To be honest I hope Trump does fail and they end up burning down the whole damn thing, so no one is threatened by how bad the ‘fall’ would be.

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                  • “but down there where a real free market would be, it’s closer to 2000 bucks”

                    Two points:

                    A. Prove it.

                    B. In a “real free” market, those who can’t pay do without. You and a handful of the extreme libertarians here seem to think that our society should let poor people die of easily treatable diseases (and middle class people die of complex diseases). I think that’s an absolutely appalling moral stance to take. But putting my morals aside, the the truth of the matter is that not a single Republican politician is willing to stand up and take that position. Instead it’s about “selling across state lines” or “freeing up market forces”.

                    Health care, Democratic style: Assemble very large pools, remove the ability to price based on pre-existing conditions, impose mandate. Impose sur-tax on the wealthy to fund poor people’s participation in the pools.

                    Health care, Republican style: Delete tax, **magic**, poor people can afford good health care insurance. When that turns out not to work, blame Democrats.

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                    • Health care has never been affordable, ever, anywhere in human history.

                      Even back when the most common course of treatment was “Make him comfortable, feed him some soup, and pray”, almost no one but royalty could afford to be sick.

                      Because the thing about sickness is that it hits you from both ends.
                      You lose your ability to earn income at the time you need to spend the most.

                      So throughout all of human history, sick people were entirely dependent on the mercy of others- family, the tribe, the Church, whatever. Someone else had to provide you the fire, the soup, the blanket. Someone else had to take over your chores and milk the cow, chop the wood, plow the field.

                      There is this narrative that gets bandied about, postulating that we somehow went from an heroic time when everyone paid for their own healthcare, to today when everyone is a lazy moocher.

                      It never was that way, ever.

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                      • Even if I accept your statement that no one has ever paid for their own healthcare I still don’t see how that leads us to an argument that it’s the government’s job to pay for or provide healthcare.

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                        • OK, but that comes down to a moral argument, a theological question of the relationship of the individual to the community.

                          It could be argued, and has, that healthcare is rightfully delivered via the family either nuclear or extended. Or by private charity and churches. Or GoFundMe accounts, or car washes and bake sales.

                          It would be a terrific idea to have this debate, with actual working class Trump supporters.
                          Or hell, with the people on this very site.

                          For anyone reading this- assume you are stricken with a serious and chronic illness tomorrow and are too sick to work. Absent governmental intervention, how would you expect to pay for treatment?

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                          • You want the cold, cynical truth?

                            “It won’t happen to me” is the cold cynical truth. It won’t happen to me, or anyone I know. It’ll happen to other people, and that’s on them.

                            My mother was pretty adamantly that way, until my brother got cancer. “He can get his healthcare in the ER”. (Which she still supported even AFTER she realized it cost her MORE money that way, because “waiting and waiting and the hassle will make him more responsible with his health something something get a better job something”).

                            It was incoherent and not really thought out. She didn’t like his job choices, she didn’t think she should subsidize it, and she thought of “health care needs” as “getting a cold” or “breaking a bone”.

                            Then he got cancer. (Luckily by that point he DID have insurance, crappy as insurance through public schools are in Texas).

                            And she changed her tune dramatically on health care. For everyone. Because she looked at him, and the bills he racked up (even WITH insurance) for a very treatable form of cancer (whose after-effects he’s still fighting) and realized “This is insane”.

                            She became a single-issue voter over the last year.

                            Because she went from “this is someone else’s problem, someone lazy and mooching off the public” to “the problem has been rubbed into my face and I can’t ignore it”.

                            And she’s a pretty empathetic woman. She gives to charity, volunteers a lot. She simply lacked the context beyond “My son is uninsured because his job is stupid and crappy he should work elsewhere” and that health care was the occasional doctor’s visit for an ear infection. She intellectually knew better, but lacked the experience and context.

                            The parallels with the progress of gay rights is pretty striking. When gay people were some “other” that you never encountered, their rights were…intellectual exercises at best. When gays included your son, your niece, your aunt…those rights (and the lack thereof) became an issue of concern.

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                      • This is interesting, article, especially coming from a guy making the claim about free markets.

                        Because the article states pretty clearly that the reason drugs cost less in India is that they reject the private ownership of drug patents, and make them public property that anyone can use.

                        But ultimately this is kind of a red herring distraction.
                        My example of chemo was just that, an example.
                        Regardless of what we do, doctors, technicians, labs, equipment and all the other parts of health care are never going to be so cheap that any individual can afford them.

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                        • Regardless of what we do, doctors, technicians, labs, equipment and all the other parts of health care are never going to be so cheap that any individual can afford them.

                          So what? Most people can’t afford to buy a house or apartment outright and yet most people aren’t homeless. The private housing market manages to provide most people with a place to live. There is a whole set of government regulations that limit what you can and cannot build and where you can and cannot build it. And there is a system of public housing and public financing to subsidize the poor. We can have a conversation about how well those regulations work and how well the safety net works and whether they need to be scrapped or beefed up, but I hear very few people arguing that the entire housing market needs to be nationalized.

                          Whether we want or would prefer a single payer system to a free market system is a conversation worth having. Just stop pretending that there is only one possible viable answer.

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                          • The private housing market requires a lot of government aide to encourage home ownership like federally guaranteed mortgages, before which banks were very reluctant to hand out loans even for educated middle class types, and allowing people to deduct their mortgages from their taxes.

                            Without these and other government subsidies the housing market will look very differently. The majority of people would rent rather than own their homes just like they did for most of American history. Homes would probably be smaller and the suburbs as we know them would not exist because fewer people could afford them.

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                        • As I have said before government is used to pick winners and losers. As I have also said before, free markets have considerable competition. The thing you point at and say is a free market is usually nothing but flavors of distortion.

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                          • OK, but of course any even vaguely politically plausible way of organizing health care will include non-market features, which would likely be the case even if you somehow managed to abolish Medicaid, Medicare, the legal requirement that ER’s treat indigent patients, the employer plan tax deduction, etc. So if it’s all a non-market system, how about we not assume that market-based reforms, as defined by the current positions of the GOP, are necessarily good?

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                        • “My example of chemo was just that, an example.”

                          hur hur hur. “My example turns out to be bullshit? Well, it was just an example. It doesn’t have to be, like, right, or anything.”

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                          • No, it is not bullshit.

                            Like I said, chemo is just one small example of medicare care.
                            Cancer patients also need intensive technician care, lab analysis, sometimes operations, physical therapy, and on and on.

                            Responding with “Well chemo drugs can be cheaper!” is helpful, but doesn’t address the point that medical care is and always will be insanely expensive, beyond the reach of most individuals.

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                      • Your proof is to point to a country which breaks patents and imposes compulsory licensing?!!!

                        Sounds great to me. What a NICE idea, in fact.

                        By the way, does your health insurance policy cover surgery in foreign countries? Why not — it should be so much cheaper that they could fly you there and back and still save money? Give them a call and get back to us with an explanation as to the market failure in off-shoring complex care.

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                          • What special things had to occur? Just one as far as I can see: The potential for an extremely large pool of money to pay for the treatment and allow the researchers to recoup their investment.

                            With a super common disease like erectile dysfunction or poor vision, that pool of money is probably there if everybody just pays out of pocket. For less common diseases, you need to extract a large payment from each person who suffers from it, which is something insurance handles pretty well. If we all paid cash, the market would do a very good job of keeping potentially affordable treatments for common diseases cheap, but we’d probably end up with a lot fewer treatments for brain tumors.

                            Given that we seem to be killing ourselves with heart disease and diabetes, maybe that’s a better way to go. We get everybody focused on making cash-affordable treatments for those diseases and just let people with various cancers die.

                            But in either case, I don’t think that cheap drugs for less common and more complex diseases are on the menu.

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                            • This was a pretty good comment. The part I have issue with is this:
                              ‘extract a large payment from each person who suffers from it’

                              now what I was pointing to above is what happens during the R&D that creates the high costs associated with the development.

                              To thoroughly unpack that one would have to walk through the process and identify everywhere the iron triangle was restricted. Now balance that out with what a consumer would or would not have wanted to occur/pay in that process, and you can see how rigid the system is.

                              To assume it is at some ‘proper’ level is merely an assumption of the people guiding the process and not the person purchasing the product.

                              If your market isn’t balancing these things out and all it appears to be producing is a very singular, costly product in a very narrow band of the iron triangle, that isn’t a free market anymore. Something else has been built. I’m not at all sure what has been built isn’t killing people of it’s own inflexibility, and barriers to entry, or even getting choosy about winners and losers.

                              Don repeated the adage that men aren’t angels, my flip side of that is ‘devils are running your social constructs’.

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                              • The part I have issue with is this:
                                ‘extract a large payment from each person who suffers from it’

                                If the research was expensive (it is) and there aren’t that many people with the disease, that’s pretty much what has to happen. Or the research won’t be done.

                                If you’re suggesting that regulatory burden is part of the cost of R&D, it absoultely is. But the question is how much of a burden is it? Certainly there’s inefficiency in the regulatory process, but as far as I’m aware, a huge part of the cost of medical R&D is simply testing stuff that doesn’t end up working.

                                We should probably work to make the approval process more efficient, but I’m very skeptical that that will make a lion’s share of the cost go away. Research is extremely expensive, and with our current medical knowledge, a lot of money gets poured into research that doesn’t bear fruit. And ultimately, the regulatory process is about proving that a treatment is safe and effective. In any sane system, those studies will still have to be done. At best, you’d be making the review of those studies more “efficient” (whatever that means), not doing away with them.

                                Ultimately, you’re still going to end up with plenty of ailments that simply don’t get treatment because the net worth of the individuals that suffer from them isn’t enough to cover the cost to figure out how to treat them. Insurance and high prices for specialized treatment is what mitigates that problem and leads to cures for those diseases.

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                                • I don’t think you and I are going to agree on this. The mere fact that the R&D is going after rare disease occurring in very small populations of people is exactly why you want to minimize the expensive/inefficient parts of the process.

                                  Honestly at some threshold number it shouldn’t even be any business of the government or regulators what people are doing in trying to find cures. Go regulate numbers big enough to merit it.

                                  If the free market can make a small R&D operation run better, it can usually make the bigger capacity operation run better. I say that as someone who is often given the worst batch operations to clean up and optimize.

                                  I won’t dance around it, I hate insurance. It may ease whatever psychological angst about something ‘bad’ happening, but it creates a cost where empirically there wasn’t one before. That cost can make 20% of the wealth disappear off the top before even being inefficiently applied to some clusterfish rube goldberg process.

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                                  • The mere fact that the R&D is going after rare disease occurring in very small populations of people is exactly why you want to minimize the expensive/inefficient parts of the process.

                                    That depends on how bad the rare disease is and how you account for utility, which gets a little bit weird. On the one hand you have a disease that will kill you and you’d be willing to pay $1M to fix it, but you only have access $10K. On the other hand, there are 100 people who want the most efficient laser hair removal and will pay $1K each, the more efficient thing to spend our R&D money on is laser hair removal, assuming the problems are equally difficult to solve. But that’s just accounting.

                                    If you want to work out the utility side of it, the calculation depends entirely on how much cash the guy with the deadly disease has. If he has $1M in his pocket, suddenly the “right” market outcome is to do the R&D for his disease. If he’s a pauper, the “right” outcome is R&D on the hair removal problem. The actual utility received by each group is the same in both situations. The only difference is where the money happens to be.

                                    Market outcomes are a great way to minimize waste, but I think we should be careful about defining “waste” as anything other than the market outcome.

                                    I won’t dance around it, I hate insurance.

                                    Insurance in general, or health insurance in particular? Is it a problem that people carry liability insurance to drive cars that put others at risk? What about derivatives used to hedge market positions? Fire insurance for home owners?

                                    If you’re just against the concept of insurance, that does put you in a pretty distinct minority. We’re probably not going to agree on that one.

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                                      • Interesting. I’ve met a few people like that, but I’m really not sure how they’re deriving their position. It usually seems to be based on some sort of moralistic position against incurring debts you can’t afford to pay. You can’t really derive it from economics as far as I’m aware. Maybe something in philosophy that I’m just not getting my head around.

                                        The argument that cutting edge life saving stuff would be tons cheaper if insurance didn’t exist strikes me as similar to the idea that houses would be cheap to replace if fire insurance didn’t exist. It ignores the fact that some things actually do cost a large amount of money to create, and your choice is either to pay that money or not have those things exist.

                                        If it was possible for drug companies to become massively more efficient and reduce their R&D costs, they’d have done it already and pocketed greater profits. So while you could probably squeeze their margins a little bit on the demand side, there’s a price below which those treatments will just go away, and that price is probably pretty high.

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                                        • Fire insurance? My wife and I built our home out of steel with non-flammable insulation. There isn’t enough combustibles stored in the house at any given time that would create a structural failure in case a fire did start somehow.

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                                        • One straightforward argument against insurance is that if a given plan had a positive expected value for the customer, then the insurer would never have provided it. Of course this could arguably apply to literally any good or service — e.g. every item in a store is “overpriced” because the store makes a profit on it. But insurance is a special case because in its simplest form, it’s just money being shuffled around, like the “service” provided by a lottery (something else which common sense suggests can’t be worth the price under most circumstances).

                                          If I buy a laptop, should I get the warranty? Well, if on balance the warranty would be cost-effective (e.g the laptop cost $1000, there’s a 2% chance the typical customer will break it within two years, and the warranty is less than $20), then the manufacturer would lose money on its warranties. Unless I’m a special case (e.g I’m particularly clumsy) but a smart manufacturer should be able to work around this with the warranty’s language. Meanwhile, if the company profits from warranties (e.g by charging $25), then I’d theoretically be better off putting the money into savings; all I “lose” is $1000 around 2% of the time, but that’s equivalent to losing less than the $25 up front.

                                          I know of at least two solid counterpoints. One is that large losses are not equal to the sum of their parts — needing $1000 for a replacement laptop (or $50,000 for a replacement organ) isn’t just forty times as bad as needing $25, because (like most Americans) I don’t have that much in savings. So then the service is more like lending with interest, which involves the trade of money for time, and not just for money.

                                          A second aspect of health insurance that makes things different is that it is typically purchased in bulk, through employers.

                                          In any case, having a mandate changes the whole equation considerably — whether it will make a given individual better off in particular is less relevant, because the mandate is like a tax meant to level things among us all, healthy or sick. (Like paying the school tax even if you don’t have kids.)

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                                          • There are a few details missing in that:

                                            First, using insurance, it is possible to hedge against events that are simply unaffordable without it. I don’t buy warranties on electronics because it makes sense to me to “self insure” against such accidents. I don’t need to pay a third party to absorb the risk because I can do it myself. I do have insurance against catastrophic illness because it’s possible for medical bills to amount to more cash than I have.

                                            The second is typical human risk aversion. On paper, if I offered you $5,000 free and clear or $10,000/$0 depending on the toss of a coin, the expected value of both offers is $5000. You should be indifferent between those offers. But most people are not. There’s an asymmetry between the possible pain of losing the $5,000 and the possible pleasure of gaining $5,000 that causes most people to prefer the $5,000 free and clear.

                                            In fact, many people prefer $4,999 or less over the coin toss. If that’s the case, and the real world only offers the coin toss, a company can make a profit offering people $4,999 to take the con toss offer off their hands and pocket the expected value of $1 in the long run, ultimately making both parties better off. It works the same way if the coin toss is a choice between losing a thousand dollars and losing a million dollars.

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                                            • “using insurance, it is possible to hedge against events that are simply unaffordable without it. ”

                                              Well, yes, but that’s not why the insurance provider is underwriting you. They aren’t helping you hedge against unaffordable events because they’re good kind people who like to help you out, they’re helping you hedge because they make money on the deal. Catchling already showed you how the math works.

                                              Insurance is a bet; you’re betting that you’ll file a claim, and the insurer is betting that you won’t. The insurer charges more than the basic risk-versus-cost-of-care, but that’s the same as a bookie taking the vigorish.

                                              “On paper, if I offered you $5,000 free and clear or $10,000/$0 depending on the toss of a coin, the expected value of both offers is $5000. You should be indifferent between those offers. But most people are not.”

                                              And with good reason! The choice is not “ten thousand or zero”, it’s “five thousand or zero”. That the fifty-fifty choice might give me ten thousand is immaterial, because I’ve got a guaranteed five-kay from the first choice. Switching is only a good choice if I don’t have any reason to prefer five thousand to zero.

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                                              • Insurance is a bet; you’re betting that you’ll file a claim, and the insurer is betting that you won’t.

                                                Yes, exactly.
                                                Insurance is a bet.
                                                Which is why it is an absurd model for health care coverage.

                                                Health care needs are NOT unpredictable random events like auto accidents and house fires.

                                                Our need for healthcare follows an amazingly predictable pattern.
                                                If you are a woman in your 20’s and 30’s, its almost certain you will need obstetrics and pediatric care.
                                                If you are over the age of 40 you almost certainly have presbyopia.
                                                If you are man over the age of 50 you are certain to have an enlarged prostate.
                                                If you are over the age of 60, your health care needs will vary in their type, but be almost certain in their frequency.

                                                If we compare health care to house fires, its as if every house were constructed of brick, with automatic fire sprinklers.

                                                Then as the house ages, it changes to unsprinklered wood sticks and shake roof, then finally to become gasoline soaked straw with open candles for light.

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                                              • They aren’t helping you hedge against unaffordable events because they’re good kind people who like to help you out, they’re helping you hedge because they make money on the deal.

                                                Well, yes that’s how all business transactions work. The fact that they make money on the deal doesn’t mean that both parties aren’t better off.

                                                Insurance is a bet; you’re betting that you’ll file a claim, and the insurer is betting that you won’t.

                                                I’m not quite sure why you think you’re explaining insurance to me, but I think this needs some clarification: Insurance is a bet, but it’s a bet that you take to offset another bet that you’re already taking. By owning valuable assets like a house, a car, or a body, you’re already gambling in a bunch of high stakes games that you have no choice but to play. Insurance is a bet you make to rebalance the risk profile of that first set of bets.

                                                And with good reason! The choice is not “ten thousand or zero”, it’s “five thousand or zero”. That the fifty-fifty choice might give me ten thousand is immaterial, because I’ve got a guaranteed five-kay from the first choice. Switching is only a good choice if I don’t have any reason to prefer five thousand to zero.

                                                Maybe I wasn’t clear in describing the payout matrix, but this line of reasoning makes no sense. If you want to look at having that $5K in the hand as the baseline, that’s fine. Then the right way to look at it would be to ask, “Would I bet my current $5K on a coin toss for a chance at an additional $5K?” Most people would not. They’d take the $5K and run.

                                                In that case, many people would even be willing to pay a few dollars not to have to take that bet, keeping their money safe. If real world circumstances force you take the bet, it’s worth paying an insurer a few dollars to take the bet on your behalf and give you slightly less than the expected payout. Everybody is better off. This is a good thing.

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                                    • Well this time let’s just isolate the insurance to the subject at hand.
                                      The person with disease wants outcome cured which is y.

                                      So if we start looking at what can be applied to f in f(x). If the insurance can be applied, that is a pretty big step on the journey to the outcome, but if it is not able to be applied then the insurance invested has a complete negative effect in the resources that can be applied to f.

                                      So in one case insurance is positive, in the other it is negative. Where if the money that was invested would have instead been saved, the wealth would always be available to be applied to f. (although not in a risk pooled form)

                                      Now if we are talking rare diseases in isolated or rare populations, it is very probable that is the kind of stuff insurance policy is written to avoid.

                                      Again if we look at all the costs of government interference and regulation, or any costs that don’t produce a cure all that stuff has a negative effect on f.

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                                    • Troublesome Frog: If he has $1M in his pocket, suddenly the “right” market outcome is to do the R&D for his disease. If he’s a pauper, the “right” outcome is R&D on the hair removal problem.

                                      This is more feature and less bug than you might think. The whole point of having money is that it gives you a bigger claim on future production. If we adopt a sort of myopic utilitarianism, where we allocate resources to optimize some approximation of aggregate utility today, then there’s no incentive to produce anything and there’s very little to redistribute tomorrow.

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                                      • I definitely wouldn’t argue for it in the general case, but my point is simply that life saving health care is odd in that it’s often consumed at a utility that vastly outstrips our actual personal net worth. The signal “I’m not paying for that,” usually means, “I’d rather spend that amount of money on something else,” which is an incredibly useful signal. When it just means, “I’d do almost anything for that thing to exist but I don’t have money,” it’s not quite as meaningful.

                                        Of course, a working insurance market pretty well takes care of that problem. You can pay an amount of cash that’s actually within your means as a probability and badness-of-outcome weighted way of indirectly signaling your interest in having those problems solved. Without health insurance, we just go back to signaling that most individuals don’t have a ton of cash and having it interpreted by the market as a lack of interest in curing those diseases.

                                        So as I see it, insurance is a great way for us to collectively take the value that we get from not worrying as much about cancer and apply it toward actually curing cancer.

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                • “Mr. MAGA hat wants to live, and if that means coercive taxation, centralized top down Big Government, then bring it on!”

                  Exactly. The majority of americans want free stuff. Healthcare, abortions, retirement money, mort. interest deductions, a big military, free public schooling/college. Free housing. Whatever. They have no problem supporting a gov’t that takes that money away from SOMEONE ELSE as long as their gravy train keeps moving. No you understand why I hold the majority in disdain. It’s not a debate over the proper role of gov’t in society and the amounts, it’s about “how much am I getting” and the associated fight of their party dividing up the spoils. F them all.

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          • Corrective optics are generally not matters of life and death and there are lesser options that work just as well for people like contacts and glasses that allow things to work out in the market. The same goes for cosmetic surgery. Its the mundane but required or necessary to save lives where the market breaks down.

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        • Wants? Maybe not that strong.

          Ok with? Yep.

          While you’re at it, I should be allowed to sell my organs pre and post death for the highest bidder. Can we also get rid of auto insurance mandates and pull all our troops out of foreign lands?

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        • I’d like a fiscally sound safety net, and that’d be a lot more limited. I’d like substantial steps to privatize the public school system and free the health care market. I’m ok with child labor laws.

          Every policy has a cost. A Social Security system which provides 100% of living expenses for everyone over 65 is impossible to finance. I know, no one’s proposing such a thing. (Or essentially no one. A few people would favor it, but there are no proposals out there that are credible and have even slight support.) Likewise, no one’s proposing doing away with Social Security completely – again, essentially no one.

          Correspondingly, there shouldn’t be any discussion about free health care that covers 100% of every possible medical option. Unfortunately, some people seem to think that’s possible. What we should be talking about is how much of each type of health care the government can afford and should pay for.

          Chip will die. Chip is not entitled to governmental support for every possible means of delaying his death. Chip should be free to seek out every possible means of delaying his death if he so wishes.

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          • Pinky:
            Correspondingly, there shouldn’t be any discussion about free health care that covers 100% of every possible medical option.Unfortunately, some people seem to think that’s possible.What we should be talking about is how much of each type of health care the government can afford and should pay for.

            Wait, where is this coming from? Who is saying this? Single payer wouldn’t cover any procedure by any doctor ever. The ACA certainly doesnt, nor do any of the UHC systems in Europe and elsewhere that liberals admire. Seriously, where I’d this argument being made?

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            • As I said in the previous paragraph, there is no proposal for a blanket everything-included safety net, just as there is no proposal for a law-of-the-jungle abandonment of the safety net. A reasonable conversation takes place in the middle.

              But when people don’t specify what kind of health care should be covered (prevention, chronic, catastrophic, however you want to break it up) then they’re opening the door to that same kind of thinking. If Chip gets a guarantee that he lives through every kind of challenge to his health, then yes, you’re making that kind of preposterous open-ended proposal. If we’re not going to guarantee Chip’s life, then we should be mature and admit that we’re having a conversation in the middle, and some people are going to die there.

              Admittedly, I could have made the point more precisely, but I was just so ticked at the child-labor strawman.

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              • There very much is a proposal to return to the pre-ACA status quo, in which any kind of health insurance or subsidy was unavailable to millions of people. There’s another, even more fun proposal to remove the ACA’s subsidies and the individual mandate and gleefully destroy the individual insurance market in this country, which would be even worse than the pre-ACA status quo. These proposals absolutely will mean that people will be unable to get care that we know works: treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes and MS, physical therapy and home care for people with disabilities, cancer treatments, etc. It’s not like the only impact is that terminal patients might have to forego experimental treatments. People will die from easily preventable conditions. They’ll avoid r egular checkups and screenings. They’ll be bankrupted by otherwise routine procedures. It drives me positively insane that this is so often discussed at a level of philosophical abstraction when there are so many obvious human effects. Repeal-and-delay or repeal-and-replace will kill people in order to reduce the tax liabilities of millionaires.

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        • If you reformulated all of those as real policy proposals instead of as straw men, I want them. And I can make a compelling case that will change at least some people’s minds.

          These are real conversations that we can have, actual exchanges of useful information and analysis. Or we can just fire poorly thought out partisan talking points back and forth at each other for ahits and giggles.

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  9. Another thought that has been going through my head:

    The GOP politicians, especially in the House for a variety of reasons, are true believers. However, the smartest of them know that their true belief views in minimalist government and getting rid of Social Security and Medicare are deeply unpopular. So do they plan to ramrod enough of Ryan’s plan through before the public notices.

    A future I worry about is where the GOP make everything explode and the Democrats are left to clean up the mess and need to spend all their political capital on just trying to restore Social Security and Medicare. Forget ACA or Single-payer.

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    • When everything exploded under Hoover, did FDR have more or less political capital to do everything he wanted? The answer is more.

      FDR’s New Deal package was rather maximalist. The parts that went by the wayside were ones that the Court invalidated (which were many), the Administration didn’t see working as well as they wanted (which were few), or were retired when folded into the war effort (which were the rest except for the big ones like Social Security)

      If the economy takes a hard dump after the midterms, President Brown/Booker/Harris/Kaine/Zuckerberg will be able to do anything they want – and if they want universal health care and universal healthcare

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      • I dearly hope we don’t get president Kaine.
        You’re assuming loss of the economy doesn’t result in some sort of martial law, or other issue that’s rather a bit bigger than normal politics.

        I make that issue 20 million refugees from the NarcoState across our border.

        I don’t know what the fuck would happen then, but I’m not going to assume it will be anything we’d like to call normal.

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  10. I don’t want “ignorant, vile, infantile, reality-show celebrity” to become the standard for choosing presidents, or “Oooh, she’s bad, very bad” to become the standard for political speech. Or grade-school name-calling to become the standard for political debate. So, yes, I want the son of a bitch to fail, and fail hard.

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  11. “Eight years ago, before Obama even took office, conservatives were enthusiastically rooting for his failure.”

    I didn’t and never did, and I don’t know anyone anywhere who thought this was a good attitude.

    “oh but you’re a sample of one” yeah, you’re right, but I think it’s worth pointing out that there are people who are not members of the unverifiable majority you’re appealing to.

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  12. I think it’s worth pointing out that the reason the left is freaking out is not that they want Trump to fail.

    It’s because *they think he will fail*.

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      • Ah, there’s a difference:

        “I want Trump to fail at the things I don’t want him to succeed at doing” (enacting an agenda I dislike) and “I am terrified Trump will fail at the things I want him to succeed at” (not starting a war with China, basics of operating government, etc).

        The post — and a number of responses — conflate the two and they are separate issues.

        Dubya, for instance, had a lot of (1) and very little of (2) (in fact getting rid of worries about version 2 was the stated rationale for Cheney’s selection as VP).

        Trump is different than Pence, Cruz, Walker, Dubya, Dole, McCain, Romney, etc because of worries about “2”.

        But people habitually switch between “Want his agenda to fail” and “Worried his ineptitude might break basic things like not going to war with China”, generally to make argumentation easier.

        (Mostly to dismiss an argument — “you just dislike his agenda” is an easy cop-out to an argument about “The man doesn’t seem to understand the ramifications of defaulting on the US debt”. No one thinks Trump’s agenda is to kick the US economy in the nuts because he defaulted on the debt, but the man actually talked about how it might be a good idea because he could get us a great deal, pennies on the dollar.)

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        • What’s interesting about this is that prior to the nomination of Trump, the things in (2) were pretty much never on the table, with the possible exception of Goldwater. So it was never valued.

          In a way it reminds me of counter-party risk, which is the risk that the other party is still around to pay off a contract. When I was in business school pre-recession, the concept of counter-party risk for large, stable institutions seemed a bit ridiculous. Then while watching everything happen in 2008, I realized what counter-party risk looks like and it ain’t pretty.

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        • Thanks Morat20, for making that distinction clear. I don’t want to see his policy agenda implemented but it’s pretty standard GOP and not all that different from what Cruz, Rubio, or even Kasich would be doing if they were in office. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I’d mostly be resigned to it.

          What I can’t resign myself to is someone of Trump’s ignorance, lack of intellectual curiosity, and disrespect for any kind of political or social norm heading up my country. That’s what separates him from the rest. While it may be time to shake things up, I surely don’t want a bombastic asshole who respects no limits doing the shaking.

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      • well Kolohe you have to understand that there’s context.

        This is sort of like when that guy tweeted that he was hoping for White Genocide last Christmas.

        It’s important to understand that people don’t just say stuff like that, there’s always a reason and context, and if you don’t understand what they meant then it’s on you to go find out more and learn about the subject. If you just get mad because your pweshus fee-fees got hurted, that’s your problem.

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  13. I didn’t care much for many things President Obama did — but notice: I use the honorific when describing him; as a person, he has my respect.

    Even when he made decisions I didn’t agree with (e.g., continuing and expanding Bush-era Patriot Act surveillance; the strategy he backed in the War on Terror; or — very specifically — his making the failure of corporate banks into public debt), I knew I was upset with an adult. If the two of us had been having a discussion about his decisions, it would be passionate, but at base I’d respect the man. It wouldn’t make me any less upset — but I’d be angry at the behavior of an intelligent, thinking adult, much different than being upset with a child, or a drunk, or a pathological character.

    And, even though Trump’s stated positions and public statements are antithetical to nearly everything he stands for and believes, Obama’s behavior as a person and as the President since November 8th has been even and straightforward; the man has gravitas. He has conducted himself publicly the way I’m used to seeing the leader of a country behave, as if he were trying to be the personification of what we believe to be best about America. Again, I disagreed with many of his policies, but he’s conducted himself with grace. Only a fool would dispute it.

    Trump’s behavior when running for office, and now as President-Elect, is no different than his prior behavior in his public life. He doesn’t possess the gravitas of a statesman because it has never been expected of him — in fact, that’s not his personal ‘Brand’. He may see the traditional statesman’s persona as a hindrance (and if he doesn’t, Steve Bannon very well might). I personally dislike the style with which how he conducts himself — never mind whatever policies he may push, my beef is with him as a person. My expectations of how he will behave as President are incredibly, but given all his prior history, realistically low. He doesn’t have my respect.

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    • I think that, in the end, President Obama’s legacy will be one of mediocrity. Which is, in its way, the best thing he could have done. Because people can point to him and say, “see? We put a black man in the White House and the country did not disintegrate. He didn’t ruin things, he didn’t screw up, if he’d been a white man and done exactly the same things nobody woulda said ‘boo’ about it. There is nothing inherent to black people that causes them to perform less competently than white people.”

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  14. I worry about not only what the Trump administration will bring, but what will come next. I would hate to see Trump’s campaign become the new template that most hopefuls follow. I want the American electorate in general, and Republican primary voters specifically, to think “you know, that wasn’t such a great idea, let’s not try that again”.

    I don’t know that a mediocre administration will accomplish that. Then again, I don’t know that a horrible one will, either. I have a pretty poor track record lately of trying to guess what voters will care about.

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  15. Michelle,

    I really don’t know if I agree with your OP or not. I will say I’m temperamentally inclined to oppose the “I hope he fails” and the “don’t normalize” framing. But that has as much to do with my own priors, weaknesses, and bigotry as it has to do with reason and logic.

    I’d have to settle on what it is I oppose and what I support. Some thoughts:

    1. Trumpism. Understood as a might-makes-right mentality, founded on race baiting, xenophobia, and revenge, an extreme form of what some conservatives call “political correctness.” I oppose that.

    2. Trump’s policies. As Chip and others pointed out above, it’s hard even to know what those policies are. If he really does want to (somehow?). I’m more for “opposing those policies I think are bad and supporting those policies I think are good” than I am for “opposing most of his policies in the hopes that it will result in his failure.” At the same time, I get your argument (from your OP and comments in the thread) that someone can be so dangerous that even support for things that are supposedly good might redound to strengthening the hand of someone potentially dangerous. If one wishes to adopt that stance, I evidently can’t convince them otherwise. But I’m certainly not there yet.

    3. Trump the person. All I know about Trump are the stories I’ve heard over the years and the caricature presented in the media (a caricature he himself has gone to great lengths to create and substantiate), so I know too little to speak knowledgeably about him. But he strikes me as a sad, lonely, and unstable person who is in a lot of pain and who is suffering greatly. In my better moments, as afraid as I am of what he’ll do with the presidency, I’d like to say that I have compassion for him as a fellow human. To me, to say that “Trump the person” ought to fail is to rejoice at his suffering.

    Others’ mileage varies. Hell, my own mileage varies. Someone can be so dangerous or in a position to do so much harm, that maybe they need to be opposed because they are beyond redemption, like Sauron, or because they are for the time being a danger but potentially able to be won back, like Saruman (not successful, but the attempt was made once he had been neutralized).

    The said part is I don’t fully know how much what I’ve just said is hyperbole and how much approximate something like what we’ll be facing. I’m hopeful that it’s mostly hyperbole–and in my calmer moments that’s what I believe–but even if it’s 75% hyperbole instead of 90% hyperbole, we’re in a bad place.

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    • I’ve probably said too much already, but I’ll add something else. Adopting the position “I want him to fail” and basing that on how horrible or dangerous he teeters, in my opinion, on the line of saying “I want to be proven right that he’s as bad as I say he is.” I don’t think this is a special vice of the OP. But I think it’s something to guard against.

      Kind of like during the Iraq War. I opposed it and wanted it to end, and the continued deaths and mishaps in that conflict kept proving me right. (Whether I was right for the right reasons or just because I was just lucky in my choice of causes is another question.) There was a sense that I *wanted* bad things to happen because that provided grist for my argument. That desire was wrong and did not represent the essence of my opposition to the war, but it did linger in the background. I can’t deny it.

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  16. It’s stuff likes this that makes me want the fat bastard driven from office sooner rather than later:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/feds-investigating-money-transfers-amp-communications-between-russia-and-trump-associates

    Can you imagine the uproar if a story like this one had come out right before Obama took the oath of office for the first time? The GOP would be calling him a traitor and demanding the inauguration be postponed pending full investigation of the charges. After noon today, Trump will be able to shut down the investigations and stonewall Congress.

    We’ve elected a mentally ill, unstable bully boy to the presidency, one who comes with a bunch of dangerous and unsavory connections, and I should hope this creature succeeds for the good of the country? I don’t think so.

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    • So, yeah…..
      The only reason you are reading about this is that the deep state doesn’t like Trump. Do you think this type of stuff doesn’t go on with other individuals / politicians / gov’ts?

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      • Seems like the deep state has legitimate reasons not to trust him. But go ahead and brush it off. Because it’s not like the FBI did anything to derail Clinton’s campaign.

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        • Michelle,
          Trust? Who the hell thinks that the CIA ought to trust the president???

          The president is a single point of failure, and our last one got a gun (unloaded) held to his head, while people explained the consequences if Obama didn’t do exactly as they wanted (these are the folks that explain to every president exactly why he wants to stay on their good side). You expect his behavior not to change based on that??

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        • Michelle,
          Are you really pining for a President Walker by some strange chance? Fbi actually did something with that campaign, not just public comment.

          The deep state has legit reasons not to trust Clinton either — there were multiple spies at high levels of her campaign.

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        • “Seems like the deep state has legitimate reasons not to trust him.”

          I don’t care if they trust him or not. What I care about is that he is obeyed, just as I cared about them obeying Obama. Not that I believe that they actually do obey him. More likely I think that they tolerate leaders and go around them to achieve their goals. American FP has been relative consistent over the decades.

          “Because it’s not like the FBI did anything to derail Clinton’s campaign.” Yeah, it was the FBI that stole the election from HRC. *rolls eyes*.

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          • I didn’t say they stole the election from Clinton, but Comey’s decision to announce that there may be some Clinton emails on Weiner’s computer was not only unwarranted, but probably in violation of the law. He should have kept his mouth shut until they’d had a chance to examine the emails, which turned out to be a big nothing burger.

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    • Ah little troll, if you think you’re going to impress me with a link to the cesspool of fake news and far right partisanship that is townhall.com, think again. When you come back with a credible link, then maybe I’ll take you seriously.

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