Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. — H.L. Mencken
Nobody can claim that Donald Trump isn't keeping his campaign promises. After his fashion, of course. He has added so many financiers, billionaire moguls and generals to his swamp that even the most recalcitrant Bernie Bro or Jill Steiner might wish for Hillary. But on the thing that matters most to his voters, white majoritarianism in the form of Muslim bans and the wall, he's delivering. Erasing Obama's legacy — check. Making war on cities with devastating cuts to public investments — check. Rolling back environmental regulations at a time when climate change is growing much worse, cleansing government agencies of competent "elites," and a budget that goes after every GOP bugaboo — check, check, and check.
When 24 million or more Americans — including the vaunted white working class — are deprived of health care, don't count on a midterm backlash. After all, dozens of Republican governors and legislatures refused to set up state ACA exchanges or expand Medicaid and no price was paid. The states got even redder. Trump's continuing discarding of norms, disgracing his office, and the timebomb of his connections with the Kremlin? I doubt any of this will affect his support. And remember, his supporters lie to pollsters, so don't believe his approval ratings. Nothing is too outrageous for them. They don't believe the news. Of course the Kenyan socialist tapped Trump Tower, no matter what the Republican intelligence committee chairmen say.
Trump stands very little chance of returning manufacturing jobs to America. His Commerce Secretary made his fortune in the "rip, strip, and flip" game, destroying companies and jobs. His Labor Secretary has praised robots. The billionaire and financial class he is empowering by cutting taxes and rolling back "burdensome" regulations grows ever richer by screwing working people.
A slew of Republican bills to repeal the New Deal, Great Society, Nixon administration, and the Enlightenment will be signed. Trump's Education Secretary is a charter-school racketeer who is actively hostile to public education. A trade war will result in higher prices at Wal-Mart and lost American jobs. Our standing in the world is already that of a sick joke. No price will be paid. Arizona has proved that, where decades of single-party control has led to disaster. Yet Arizona is redder as a result.
Inside the left echo chamber, everyone is giddy. Trump's daily outrages, his likely treason, the retrograde moves of this Congress, and the normalization of bigotry must lead to a repudiation by the electorate in 2018.
I'm not so sure.
It surprised me that my column on the appeal of white majoritarianism received relatively little attention from readers. I use the term deliberately in an attempt to understand a phenomenon that liberals dismiss as simple bigotry. But it is the heart of the matter. Trump, and more importantly his brain trust of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, get this. So do millions of white Americans who will hold their noses on some of Trump's excesses because Trumpism represents their quiet convictions, the ones they dare not speak for being shouted down by a social-media lynch mob. They will no more stand by and see America become a balkanized non-nation of competing minorities than would Han Chinese in China or Great Russians in Russia. They don't hold massive protests in safe blue cities. They do vote, and when it matters.
The Democrats are in an impossible situation. They embrace such enthusiasms as transgender rights and Black Lives Matter that are guaranteed to inflame the above (dare I say it?) silent majority. This may be a moral stance but it won't win elections. The growing right hasn't even gotten over losing on gay marriage, much less is it willing to countenance parents who would indulge their little boys who think they might really be little girls. So go ahead. But don't expect it to be a winning strategy. The right is also happy for the Democrats to sabotage themselves by increasing internal purity wars.
Trump voters are going to get it good and hard. The war on government will degrade their lives in countless ways. Underfunding and sabotaging government makes government stumble, and this seems to validate the right's conviction that "gub'ment is the problem." The hundreds of ways that government has made America great are cloaked or forgotten. But enough minds are made up that, as in Arizona, no price will be paid. The loss of Obamacare will result in misery and suffering for millions, but this will successfully be blamed on ... Obamacare. On and on.
It's a waking nightmare. How do we get out of it? Hoping for a George W. Bush-style series of disasters that tilt the ballot to Democrats seems about all we've got. Trump makes W. look like Pericles by comparison. And he's got the nuclear launch codes. But his base is sticking with him, and vote suppression is going to be much more widespread than in 2006 or 2008.