Organize according to your ability

I know there’s much debate on the left about the value of engaging in electoral politics. All year I argued we should variously specialize. Before the November election, my contention was that electoral and non-electoral organizing both have value, and that some of us are good at one versus the other.

Immediately in the days after the November 2016 election results, my initial reaction was to wonder if there was even any point to me or anyone continuing to think about future elections. That initial reaction was based on a consideration of the sheer amount of defensive non-electoral work that will be required to protect people.

However, it remains true both that some of us are better at non-electoral versus electoral politics (and vice versa) and that we cannot afford (as well) to assume that was the “last” election or that in crisis we can all put all future elections out of mind. If we get to the next election and didn’t do anything to try to clamber out of this hole … well, defensive triage isn’t a permanent fix.

The vast majority of time, energy, and effort should be put into non-electoral organizing for defensive triage to protect people. But those of us whose core competency is more in the electoral realm should be furiously preparing electoral brakes on this freefall.

While we need a national shift on messaging, platform, etc, we need state and local candidates in 2017 and 2018 who can shield people against abusive Feds.

Consider, too: Conservatives have hijacked and perfected a system of state-level obstruction, rights violations, and disturbing ballot referenda. Counter-consider: All of these tools are available to advance the social and democratic rights – or protect them against Federal Trump. Liberals have been very hesitant to use the tools original Progressive Movement set up in most states because Conservatives abuse them. At this point, that ship has sailed. Within the electoral politics realm, if you are not using every tool you can to shield people, quit.

On the electoral politics side, we should be using every single legislative race and every referendum to force head-on ideological debates. Conservatives use local races and ballot campaigns to question people’s humanity and promote new incendiary “values” to the public. The electoral left should similarly be actively using local races and ballot campaigns to sell voters on our (non-abusive) positions.

So, the debate on electoral versus non-electoral politics is a false choice. We need to fire on all cylinders, “From each according to his ability” and so on. As a side note on resources: 2016 was the year of the establishments lighting tons of money on fire and losing to smarter cheap oppositions.

Some of us are good at non-electoral work. Others of us are probably better at amplifying it and – hopefully – backing it up in government. Be careful of potential co-opters of this energy. But if you or someone you know from the grassroots wants to run, make it happen. I wouldn’t presume to know how to teach/train people on most non-electoral organizing, but I can help you on how to be a candidate.

Every single election, no matter how small, can be made into an affirmative campaign for a value non-electoral organizers are working on. If you’re not working on defensive triage right now, as discussed above, you can be building networks daily to win races that affect people.

Adapted from a series of tweets I posted in mid-November 2016.

Op-Ed | Trump: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

The subtitle of the 1964 classic Stanley Kubrick nuclear war farce “Dr. Strangelove” is “or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

While that subtitle is part of the film’s satire – nuclear weapons are indeed very serious and frightening and cannot be brushed aside – there is something to be said for knowing when to keep a level head about the problem.

Many of my fellow Democrats have expressed that they might prefer the equally conservative but more mainstream Vice President Mike Pence to Donald Trump, due solely to the president’s authority to launch U.S. nuclear weapons.

To me, the risk of a nuclear war still remains fairly small, while the Pence agenda – in concert with Paul Ryan – remains a very high risk with huge ramifications as well.

So, how have I found a way to “stop worrying and love the bomb” or at least relegate it to a lower-tier fear?

Regarding Russia

A recent public remark by President Trump and a glance back toward Ronald Reagan, his predecessor in the Oval Office as a television aficionado turned conservative tribune.

At a recent press conference, rambling well past an hour, Trump said that the best way to show his independence from Russia would be to fire missiles at a Russian Navy submarine off the U.S. coast – but that he would not do so, of course.

By way of explanation or proof, Trump uttered the incredible (and accurate) phrase:

I’ve been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other.

By this remark, Trump meant that launching a (nuclear) World War III by attacking Russia directly would end poorly for everyone, which is why he could not even consider it.

Nuclear holocaust

Back in 1983, President Reagan and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were given an advanced screening of the made-for-TV sensation, “The Day After.” That film, which rocked the nation, depicted exactly the scenario Trump described, in as horrifying terms as possible.

Ronald Reagan, in his diary and memoirs, said that he began shifting the country’s nuclear war policies in response to the film, which had made him “depressed.”

It is almost certain that Trump himself has seen the film as well – probably at the time – considering his voracious consumption of television.

True, Trump is known for his uncontrolled and impulsive remarks. True, he clearly did not hesitate to authorize smaller, ill-conceived military actions such as the recent failed raid in Yemen.

But it is probably reasonable to believe him when he says that he would not be starting World War III because a “nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”

The real threat

Trump and his agenda are absolutely a threat, but most of that threat is a very real and already very present one. The damage will be less instantaneous and less visible than a nuclear war, but it is exceptionally much more likely.

Vice President Pence shares that agenda and a record to back it up. But he won’t generate the matching level of opposition that both men deserve, and so I don’t prefer him to Trump.

And at any rate, as “Dr. Strangelove” shows – after all the arguing is over, the other outcome is over pretty quick.

Originally published at The Globalist.

Op-Ed | (Non-) Nuclear Trump: The Ahmadinejad of the West?

This past weekend, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad abruptly launched an English-language Twitter account and released a video, in English, of himself announcing the account.

It was an unlikely development from someone who was nearly toppled from office by street protests in 2009 organized via Twitter – especially given the U.S. government’s request at the time for the company to ensure smooth operations of the service.

But on the other hand, Ahmadinejad has likely felt muzzled since leaving office in 2013 due to term limits. His relationship to the state had deteriorated anyway in his second term between the protests and the sanctions on the country.

Supreme Leader Khamanei also recently suggested that it would be bad for the country if Ahmadinejad were to seek a new term in 2017.

Trump and Ahmadinejad

Twitter, as demonstrated by the new U.S. President, Donald Trump, allows totally unfettered messaging to supporters and the media, without interference by anyone.

Perhaps the former Iranian president decided to follow suit.

In February 2017, Ahmadinejad sent a lengthy letter to Trump, officially objecting to the Muslim ban, which affected Iran, but also offering advice and personal experience on leadership – from one “human to another human.”

He noted that Trump’s election had been an upset:

It can be inferred from the political and media atmosphere in the US that the result of the election has been (in spite of) the status quo, and beyond the will and prediction of the governing body and the main system behind the scene of the U.S. political stage.

Like Ahmadinejad in 2005, Donald Trump was elected as the hardliner candidate. Both rose to win an upset victory from the back of the pack, running on a conservative but populist and nationalist message.

Similar loose talk

In Ahmadinejad’s case, his policy pronouncements and speeches were not the final word in policy, subject to the Supreme Leader’s support ultimately.

To some degree, that appears to be the case with Trump as well, surprisingly. (Sometimes, someone like Steve Bannon sticks an order in front of him and Trump signs it without reading it.)

What is certainly true for both men, of course, is that their off-the-cuff remarks or deliberated provocations still terrify half of their respective home countries and most of the countries around the world.

For all his loose talk about nuclear weapons, it was always a bit difficult to tell whether Ahmadinejad was really perpetually hovering over the launch buttons on the country’s (non-nuclear) arsenal or just blustering. Trump keeps everyone guessing in much the same way.

Would he or wouldn’t he?

At a recent press conference Trump said unprompted that the best way to show his independence from Russia would be to fire missiles at a Russian Navy submarine off the U.S. coast – but reiterated that he obviously would not do so.

Change a few nouns and it would be Ahmadinejad threatening to reduce Strait of Hormuz sea traffic – including U.S. vessels – to smoking wreckage.

Trump also added, as justification for his restraint:

I’ve been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other.

A hidden restraint?

That attitude, too, is familiar to fair-minded Iran observers. Throughout Iran’s controversial nuclear energy program development, Iran’s leaders have been very careful to point out that they believe nuclear weapons are immoral and proscribed, and that the program is peaceful.

Ahmadinejad, himself, was a staunch defender of the civilian nuclear program on the grounds of sovereignty and anti-colonialism, but he also called nuclear weapons “illegal” and immoral and supported global non-proliferation.

Typically, Iran’s leaders point specifically to the Iran-Iraq War and Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on young Iranian soldiers as a reason Iran does not want WMDs. They also sometimes cite religious reasons for a ban.

At one point, in 2008, the Supreme Leader even indirectly urged Ahmadinejad to dial back his over-enthusiastic rhetoric on the nuclear issue, which (unlike in the United States) is not really under presidential authority anyway.

One must hope along similar lines, therefore, that when the White House under Trump “considers all options” in situations such as North Korea’s recurring threats, it is not seriously contemplating the literal nuclear option.

Originally published at The Globalist.

The Lie of the ‘Age of Scarcity’

The big lie is that we’re living in an age of scarcity and that the only path forward is to trim the fat and get our economy growing so that the rising will lift all boats, blah blah blah. The reality of course is much different. There is more than enough money to fund all of the priorities in the industrialized world.

In the United States, in particular, we have the money. We can do this. This is feasible. We can pay for all the things that we need to pay for, for everyone — but we have to go get the money.

Then people say “well you can’t get the money because people will just move overseas and the wealthy will just avoid taxes further.” But the reality is that they are dependent on us as a whole and we have no need to be dependent on their whims.

The reality is that the wealthy in this country would not be wealthy and could not continue to be wealthy without the benefit of the American system, which we largely let them use without strings attached. Their wealth derives from the U.S. legal code and U.S. courts, the U.S. banking system, the U.S. highway system, massive federal investments in technology research, all kinds of water infrastructure — really any of these things and more.

It’s up to us to exercise the political will to go get this money to fund these priorities. To go get this money and make it so that they cannot leave the country with their wealth or move it offshore but still benefit from all these systems.

They cannot continue to hold this wealth and participate in the United States economy with all the advantages that that brings to these wealthy people, unless they are paying a share necessary to sustain and stabilize the needs of the population of the United States of America.

It is an absurd proposition that these people should be allowed to continue to accrue infinite amounts of money without strings attached. It is absurd that the private and public sector keep “trimming the fat,” affecting the lowest in our society as well as the ordinary people in our society, at every possible opportunity — all so that the wealthy can continue to a mass fortunes that are truly beyond all human comprehension, beyond any possible need, beyond wealth itself.

We have enough money to fund all of priorities that we need to fund in our country if we go get that money. No one – no one – should be turning to right-wing populism or other evil answers to their problems just because they have been offered no other solutions to their legitimate grievances within the system.

The reality is that there are billions and billions and billions of dollars being hoarded offshore by wealthy individuals and enormously rich corporations, which should be taken back by the state and re-distributed to the people.

There are folks dominating the media narratives who have a great stake in perpetuating an existing system and saying that there is no alternative, that this scarcity is inevitable, and that we must be “realistic” and cut back, cut back, cut back, down to the bone until they have decided that they are satisfied.

But there will never be any point of satisfaction and there is no reason to insist upon some fictional claim that ordinary people cannot have these programs that are “overly generous.” There is no such thing as overly generous in the systems unless you are talking about the vast fortunes that are accrued to the wealthy for no reason. Out of all rational proportion.

We may live in an age of scarcity of certain natural resources, but we do not live in an age of scarcity in terms of budgets and social spending, except in a manufactured one.

Dispense with this false framing about hard choices when it comes to vital social needs. Dispense with this false framing that the objective of a 21st century civilization is to promote an arbitrary annual economic growth rate that is purportedly the only solution to lifting living standards and is somehow only achievable by cutting back any social spending that was making real gains in living standards.

We don’t live in a hard-scrabble subsistence society. We live in a society where there is no reason not to set, as the primary objective, a mission of raising living standards and life comfort for all our ordinary everyday people. The tangible and real things in life, that is. Not some national growth figures on a chart.

We can do this. If we choose not to, or if we choose to prioritize other things like wealth accumulation and meaningless growth figures, it is entirely a choice, not a forced decision.

Op-Ed | America’s New Regime: Wisconsin, Not Trump or Putin

The lurking power in the frozen north pulling the strings behind the Trump Administration is not the Russians but the Wisconsin Republicans.

After completely blindsiding the Democratic Party and the entire Clinton machinery, the U.S. state of Wisconsin has suddenly become the center of gravity of the coming unobstructed period of Republican governance.

The importance of Wisconsin, part of the country since 1783 and a state since 1848, goes well beyond the Democrats losing the state in November 2016 for the first time since 1988.

The fact that the margin was about 22,000 votes has garnered the upper midwestern Rust Belt state national, if not global attention due to the recount effort.

The Wisconsin takeover

Donald Trump, a lifelong New York City figure, has appointed Reince Priebus as his White House Chief of Staff. Whoever occupies that position effectively runs the Presidential administration day to day and works to advance the policy agenda of the White House.

The position is all the more crucial, given that Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, is temperamentally disinterested in any of the details of governance.

Indeed, he is expected to spend much of his time at Trump Tower in New York, not at the White House in Washington, where all the executive offices are located.

We can thus expect Priebus to take the reins of the executive branch fairly firmly. In that respect, he will be similar to Vice President Dick Cheney – under George W. Bush’s first term – who had previously served as White House Chief of Staff under the accidental president Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s.

Who is Reince Priebus, the “inside” President?

Priebus is the highly effective outgoing Republican National Committee Chairman and the former Wisconsin Republican Chairman.

A skilled party operator, Priebus is widely credited with preventing a cataclysmic split between the more fanatical base elements – particularly the Tea Party movement in 2010 – and other key factions of the Republican Party, such as Big Business interests and Christian/Catholic Conservatives.

Priebus did this first in 2010 in Wisconsin, which led to the election of two hardline business-backed and religious conservatives Governor Scott Walker and Senator. Ron Johnson.

Skilled in Washington skirmishes

Priebus then moved on to Washington, to right the ship at the national Republican Party. In the national capital, he brought the same bridge-building skills to the fore.

He stayed focused on his mission, despite the Republicans’ 2012 presidential defeat and the centrifugal forces that threatened to rip the party apart.

Middle man between Trump and the establishment

Priebus was also the rare Republican Party establishment figure who managed to work reasonably well with Donald Trump throughout the chaos of the campaign.

Priebus was seen as someone who stayed on message in the media and kept Congressional Republicans and state Republicans all looped in.

With Republicans controlling all branches and most states, this will prove to be an invaluable asset. As White House Chief of Staff, Priebus can now move to consolidate the policy agenda rapidly, before any serious opposition can materialize and organize.

Wisconsin man No. 2: Speaker of the House

But the Wisconsin power does not stop there. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican nominee for Vice President (another victory for the promoters of the Wisconsin GOP), will preside over reliable and hardline Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress.

Ryan will likely play the role of Prime Minister to a more hand’s-off President Trump. A policy-driven man, he has already announced a very ambitious hardline Republican agenda for the first 100 days.

His agenda includes such policies as privatization of the Medicare public health insurance system for senior citizens. National anti-union “right to work” laws can be anticipated soon, based on Wisconsin law.

Ryan is also a very socially conservative Catholic. He can be expected to seek rollbacks of social liberalism, whether on abortion rights or other matters.

Wisconsin man No. 3: A Republican Senate Chairman

In the Senate, Kentucky Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had retained his title. However, all eyes are already turning to Senator Ron Johnson of … Wisconsin.

Johnson won a surprise re-election victory this year over Russ Feingold after unseating him six years ago. Johnson appealed to the Tea Party and used his manufacturing industry wealth to self-fund his first campaign.

He bridges the Tea Party, big business, Wisconsin Catholics & Evangelicals, and (as a tough Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chair) the anti-immigrant faction.

Johnson has told the media he intends to push a Wisconsin-style “civil service reform” package at the federal level in his Government Affairs role.

That plan amounts to breaking up the public employee unions of the DC/Maryland/Virginia area and beyond. (Other major hubs are in places like California, the Democrats’ national baseline stronghold at this point.)

Why would he go after that target? Public sector unions are a major force in Democratic Party politics and (among Democratic-leaning other constituencies) the black middle class.

Assuming Johnson retains all his current Senate committee assignments, he is in a strong position to advance the Wisconsin bloc’s agenda and the Trump agenda.

As Homeland Security and Government Affairs chair, he will be partially in charge of the anti-undocumented immigrant push and construction of any border wall.

He is also on the subcommittee for “Government Investigations” and the subcommittee for “Regulatory Affairs.”

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, he will likely champion Speaker Ryan’s House-originated budgetary proposals.

He is also a high-profile climate change denier who serves on Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and its specific Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.

Wisconsin man No. 4: Chairman of the Republican Governors Association

Remarkably, there is yet a fourth power player from Wisconsin – the aforementioned hardline Republican Governor Scott Walker. An early dropout candidate of the 2016 U.S. presidential race, he just became the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

That position matters at the national level way beyond intra-party matters. Republicans, with 33 governor posts, will hold an even larger majority of the 50 governorships come January than they already do (31).

This will make the association a critical force of support for the nationwide implementation of a sweeping Republican agenda.

Governor Walker is also the primary driver in Wisconsin of the radically conservative union-busting and abortion rights rollback agenda that conservative groups (including the Koch Brothers) pilot-tested heavily in the legislature there before expanding to other states.

The gift of a historic opportunity

Democrats and the American people can rest assured that Republicans will make the utmost of the rather unexpected opportunity that they now hold the keys to all relevant levers of power in Washington, D.C. and much of the nation.

Republicans realize that this is a once-in-a-generation – if not once-in-a-lifetime – opportunity to remake the country in their image and according to their policy predilections.

Republican Party operatives are likely to be all the more focused and forceful in executing their change agenda since they, too, are painfully aware of the significant demographic changes in the U.S. electorate.

Republicans play for keeps

Despite the sweeping outcome in 2016, Republicans do know that with their hostility to multiculturalism they may well be the party that is facing a structural minority among voters in the nation.

But to Republicans, that is all the more reason to lay the groundwork now to make an eventual, probably inevitable takeover by Democrats all the harder – or less meaningful, if and when it happens.

The U.S. Constitution already has significant and disproportionate benefits built in for rural areas and hence Republicans (witness the structure of the U.S. Senate and the Electoral College, to name but two factors).

More informal measures, such as eliminating voting rights enforcement at the Justice Department, can do as much damage to the cause of true representation.

The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court, as the ultimate arbiter of such changes, is going to be firmly in Republican hands for decades to come makes all of this insidious anti-democratic change (with a little “d”) all the more problematic over the long term.

The relevance of Wisconsin, again

As a matter of fact, the Wisconsin election outcome this year is somewhat of a national microcosm of problems for the Democratic Party.

If its operatives had been a bit more realistic, the 2016 election outcome ought not to have been as much of a surprise as it was.

Midterm year elections in the state kept producing embarrassing defeats for Democrats, even if by close margins. Republican success at implementing very strict voter ID laws – which Democrats have complained about but not mobilized against meaningfully – served them very well.

The Clinton campaign’s decision not to campaign in the state (despite counting on it for the Electoral College and despite losing it in the primary to Bernie Sanders) also was a fatal error.

Together, those two factors appear to have worked in tandem to depress urban turnout by several times more than the margin of victory for Trump and even for Senator Johnson.

Democratic Party candidate-endorsing labor unions in the state of Wisconsin have also expressed frustration after the November election. They had essentially been left to fend for themselves in organizing campaign efforts and messaging in the state.

The wider lesson of Wisconsin

Ever since 2010, when Governor Scott Walker took over the reins of the state, Wisconsin has incubated a radically conservative agenda for full Republican control of all branches.

Democrats at the state level were left perplexed and repeatedly botched the response even as they rallied public sympathy.

That serves Republicans as the template for the implementation of their — now nation-wide — strategy.

The odds of success are fully visible: Wisconsin Republicans now control virtually the whole machinery of the country’s government, under and around President Donald Trump.

Democrats better not falter again if they want to have any hope of seeing the remainder of the New Deal, Great Society and Obama legacy spared the chopping block.

Originally published at The Globalist.

Not Seeing the Cleared Forest for the Largest Felled Tree: Democrats & the States

Most of the ink spilled about the election earlier this month has focused on the presidential race. With the amount of money spent on it and media attention it gained (especially with one candidate being a bigoted, reactionary carnival barker), that makes sense. There have been many post-mortems, and there will be more. And there is comfort in knowing that over two million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump, regardless of the Electoral College results.

But focusing on the top of the ticket alone obscures what was happening–and has been happening–down ballot.

Democrats hit a new low in state legislative seats. In 2017, Republicans will control 4,170 state legislative seats, with Democrats controlling only 3,129 in the 98 partisan legislative chambers. According to the AP as of last week, Republicans had a net gain of 46 seats, and Democrats a net loss of 46 seats. Some races in California and Washington, however, have yet to be called, but that will not change the overall picture.

Indeed, the losses since 2008 have been stunning. Some of this can be explained by the extreme gerrymandering of state legislatures by Republicans after the 2010 Census, but that cannot explain all of it.

demlegislativelosses_lead

Fortunately, Massachusetts was largely immune to this trend in 2016. Republicans succeeded at picking up only one open Democratic-held seat: Brian Mannal’s Second Barnstable District in the House. Republicans will now have 35 seats in the MA House, to Democrats’ 125. (The Senate will remain 34-6).

Elections in Massachusetts are rarely competitive affairs, however. This year, in 77% of seats, one major party fielded no candidates, and 88.8% of incumbents ran unopposed in their primaries.

We haven’t been so lucky in the gubernatorial realm, though. Massachusetts is one of two states with Republican governors but Democratic legislative supermajorities (the other being Maryland). Democrats will start 2017 with two fewer gubernatorial offices than they held in 2016, having lost the offices in Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont–and—provided NC Governor Pat McCrory (R) doesn’t succeed in stealing the election away from AG Roy Cooper (D) with trumped-up voter fraud charges—gained an office in North Carolina. This leads to a total of only 16 gubernatorial offices. It’s quite jarring to think that the majority of New England states now have Republican governors.

During the next four years of the Trump presidency (let’s pray–and organize to make sure–it’s not eight), states and cities will take on extra importance in advancing a progressive agenda. That means passing bold, progressive legislation that advances equity, inclusion, and sustainability in the state and offers a model for other states and the nation as a whole (down the road), and organizing to take back gubernatorial seats and legislatures.

Here in Massachusetts, we need to do both. With legislative supermajorities, Democrats need to be pushing for a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, criminal justice reform, free tuition at public colleges, single payer health care, automatic voter registration, and the protection and expansion of the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community. And we also need to be working to take back the gubernatorial office in 2018 so that we have a governor who wants to play a part, or even lead, in advancing that agenda.

Op-Ed: Trump Inherits the Surveillance State

Among the many terrible things that will ensue under the capricious whims of President-elect Donald Trump, there is one that should be particularly chilling, in that it could prevent effective opposition to his administration’s awful policies.

Consider that Donald Trump would not merely have the nuclear codes — which he probably wouldn’t use — but also the keys to the mass surveillance apparatus and special federal counterterrorism legal systems that we constructed in our post-9/11 national panic and strengthened ever since.

It is widely known that these tools have been used to monitor, break up and crush protests over the past decade and a half — on issues from racial justice and police reform to economic inequality and environmental activism.

Now he arrives in power, which brings access to the FBI’s protest organizer surveillance records, with the support of the nation’s police unions who have shown themselves only too happy to break out the pepper spray, batons, attack dogs, smoke grenades and armored vehicles at the first sign of constitutionally protected peaceful assembly.

No outsiders, no insiders

There won’t be any mass marches on Washington under that system if it is controlled by President-elect Trump. He has demonstrated repeatedly that he is nothing if not a rapid-response master, even to the smallest of slights and most token of opposition.

There also won’t be mass resistance by the military or the CIA, either, if he gives deeply disturbing orders.

For one, it is seriously naive to think there is not a pretty large contingent inside both organizations that agrees with Trump sincerely. This is not a baseless slam against either organization, but an acknowledgment that they — at minimum — represent a broad cross-section of the same population (particularly on the conservative side) that elected Trump.

The track record on preventing abuses in the field — while never particularly great in the grand arc of U.S. history — has been especially problematic during the Global War on Terror.

“Just following orders,” the mantra of Vietnam-era atrocities, is certainly not less likely to make a comeback under a Trump commander-in-chief.

The Department of Homeland Security is also highly unlikely to oppose Donald Trump’s deportation agenda. His deportation and border walls platform was enthusiastically supported by the unions representing border guards and immigration agents.

There is no accelerationism effect

Some have — before the election at least — floated the bizarre notion that a Trump presidency will wake up the country and compel it at long last to get its act together to stop the extreme strains he represents. Some had even suggested voting for him as a means of taking the country over the cliff into mandatory self-reflection.

Perhaps there was some small window between the Cold War and the rise of internet-enabled mass telecommunication surveillance when someone like Trump – perhaps a Pat Buchanan-type – could have won the presidency and not wreaked irreparable havoc, but rather “inoculated” the country against repeating the error. (I doubt it, but perhaps.)

Under a Trump presidency in 2017 and beyond, however, there is not going to be a mass awakening — because he will be able to disrupt it very easily with the tools our country has foolishly given the current and previous presidents.

A lot of people will suffer badly even if he holds office for only four years.

And of course it is not clear that it will be only four years. Remember the hubris of American liberals who, when faced with the shocking defeat in 2000, concluded it would be a cakewalk to make George W. Bush a one-term president?

Originally published at The Globalist.