As with most presidential elections, the most recent one left about half of Americans pleased, and another half displeased. Of course, those moderate adjectives fail to do justice to the response of some anti-Trumpers, who absolutely melted down on November 9th.
Institutions of higher learning were especially distraught. Princeton issued a statement offering to “hold space together” because “[a]ll emotions you may be having now are valid.” Cornell University students held a “cry-in.” Northwestern University offered “healing spaces.” The University of Kansas reminded students that it had therapy dogs available. And Yale students organized a “primal scream.”
And the media reaction was similarly colorful. The New Yorker’s David Remnick said it is “nothing less than a tragedy for the American people.” Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin wrote in Vanity Fair that it “is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has [won].” Salon’s Heather Parton said that “[t]hings will never be the same…which makes this all very, very frightening.” And the Daily Beast’s John Avlon said he “represent[s] an existential challenge to our fabric, liberal values and world order.”
But the best response to all this wailing and gnashing of teeth came from Dilbert creator Douglas Adams, who argued that the anti-Trump crowd was fighting a fiction:
“The protesters look as though they are protesting Trump, but they are not. They are locked in an imaginary world and battling their own hallucinations of the future. …
In a rational world it would be obvious that Trump supporters include lots of brilliant and well-informed people. That fact – as obvious as it would seem – is invisible to the folks who can’t even imagine a world in which their powers of perception could be so wrong. To reconcile their world, they have to imagine all Trump supporters as defective in some moral or cognitive way, or both.”
After two weeks of Mr. Donald Trump serving as the president-elect, it appears that Adams’ assessment was spot on. To listen to the media tell it, by now our economy should have collapsed, our republic should have dissolved, and our international relations should have collapsed.
Instead, Trump has put together back-to-back fantastic weeks, building a roundly praised cabinet of advisers and fulfilling his campaign pledge to fight to keep jobs in the United States.
His cabinet choices show him to be an effective, and perhaps deeply strategic leader, a far cry from the bumbling neophyte described by his detractors. He’s successfully building a well-rounded cabinet with a mix of loyal, but capable allies (Sen. Jeff Session for attorney general, Michael Flynn for national security advisor), steady-handed leaders who know Washington (Rep. Tom Price for health and human services, Elaine Chao for transportation, and Gen. James Mattis for secretary of defense), and strategic olive branches to key Democrats.
On this last front, it’s been reported that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is under consideration for Agriculture and Interior secretary and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is up for the Energy secretary. Both of these Democratic senators have publicly stated their willingness to work with the president-elect, and happen to be from states that Trump decidedly won. If they are chosen, there is a strong chance that Republicans would replace them in the Senate, further boosting the majority Sen. Mitch McConnell gets to work with.
Trump’s other big achievement was meeting with Carrier, the giant air conditioner manufacturer, and getting them to agree to keep their Indiana factory open. The details aren’t clear, but one thing is: A thousand Americans who were about to spend their holidays worried about their future now get to keep their jobs.
“Today’s announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate,” the company said in a press release.
Of course, one deal does not a presidency make, but it is indicative of two things that should give the working class hope. First, it shows that Donald Trump will fight, not just for broader policy improvements, but for each and every job in the United States. And second, it shows that Trump is perfectly comfortable challenging conservative orthodoxy when it makes sense for American workers. As the New York Times wrote, he’s proving himself to be “a different kind of Republican, willing to take on big business, at least in individual cases.”
It’s been a great run for Trump, displaying both a steady managerial hand and a strong-arm at the bargaining table. That’s a far cry from the “existential threat” we were promised. Perhaps it’s safe to venture out from our safe spaces now.