Hope and Change — Sound familiar?
Barack Obama’s theme in the campaign that resulted in his election in 2008 was “Hope and Change”. He repeated that theme over and over during the campaign, also saying “We are going to fundamentally change America”. Now, as he leaves office after an eight-year term, whether Americans have more Hope or less depends on which Americans you ask. As for Change, few could argue that it has certainly come about on the ideological front and on the international stage [with many dissenters saying “OK, but not that kind of change”!] — but that on the political front, the establishment not only has not changed, it has gotten worse through even heavier polarization and entrenchment.
So is real change on the horizon now?
[and maybe I should add, “… And if so, will it be change for the better?”]
In a recent post in one of the blogs/sites I follow [www.FACTn.org], the author [a good friend of mine] pursued an interesting question: Will the Trump Revolution bring real change?. His post pursued the question from a Christian Worldview perspective, and as readers of my blog posts know if they have accessed applicable pages at this site, I share that perspective [see applicable links at this site: Who I Am; Why I’m Doing What I Do]. However, since I created this site to appeal to anybody who would listen to me regardless of whether or not they share my Christian Worldview, I’d like to take a shot at pursuing the same question from an “It is what it is” perspective, just applying simple logic to our Current Paradigm and [using what we have learned so far about it] the unfolding New Paradigm [for a refresher on the paradigm shift underway, see these pages at this site: A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway; Election Aftermath – 1].
When it became apparent in the final stretch leading up to the 2016 Republican convention that Donald Trump could actually become the nominee, I began to hear a lot more references to him [by Republicans] in which the term RINO [Republican In Name Only] was used. That term had been used early on in the primary campaigns to describe “mainstream” candidates like Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, John Kasich, et al [at that point, the prevalent thinking was that Trump was a flash in the pan and wouldn’t be in the “finals”; otherwise, those who used that term to describe Bush, Perry and Kasich [et al] would have called Trump a RINO, too, because although he didn’t fit into existing categories well, his positions on issues in the “core conservative mantra” were not strong enough to suit them].
I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term DINO used to refer to a person fitting the parallel profile in the Democrat party. My guess is that this avoidance [by Democrats] is intentional because of the potential attachment of the word DINOsaur to that acronym — which would create an imagery of obsolescence that Republicans could use as fodder in their campaign speeches. Be that as it may, the acronym is certainly applicable to “mainstream” Democrats [of which Hillary Clinton could be considered the poster child], and is no doubt thought of conceptually by far left Democrats [like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren] whether they articulate it or not.
RINOs, DINOs, SCHMINOs …
For reasons I have stated in one way or another in several previous posts, I firmly believe that the two-party system in the Current Paradigm is definitely on the demise as the New Paradigm continues to move into place. The only thing that remains to be seen is how long it will take for that demise to be complete. I doubt that it will be complete during Trump’s first term, but if his radical approach to things continues, I do believe it could be completed within a second term if he is re-elected.
Under the scenario that can begin unfolding after Trump’s inauguration [which I hope will unfold], terms like RINO and DINO would be meaningless. That scenario would result in passage of major legislation that can fundamentally change the entire outlook for this country while concomitantly putting in place a sustainable long-term fiscal path. That scenario is within reach because the two-party system has already been damaged enough to at least open the door for resolution very soon of the gridlock issues that have made our government dysfunctional [see Dysfunctional Government at this site] for at least the last four to six years. Four things favor the scenario I’m projecting:
- Lack of a closely-aligned philosophical mindset within the Republican majorities. A nearly monolithic alignment would be necessary to overcome what will clearly be a solid alignment among Democrats against at least some, maybe many, Republican initiatives. Far-right Republicans seem to have been learning very quickly that a far-right, ultra-conservative agenda will do nothing but make the Republicans fail at every turn even though their party now “controls” the House, the Senate, and the White House — and drag their newly elected president down with them. The math that computes to this situation is simple: moderate Republicans [RINOs in the eyes of some] will not go along with far-right initiatives, and far-right Republicans will not go along with more moderate agendas [and in the Senate, in situations where Democrats are voting in lock step with each other, it only takes three Republicans to side with them and block a bill].
- A more closely-aligned [albeit not completely monolithic] philosophical mindset within the Democrat minorities. The far left wing of the Democrat party does not so far seem as able to exert as much influence on that side of “the center” as is the far right wing of the Republican Party to exert significant influence on that side of “the center” — the result being that Democrats seem more monolithic than they actually are. As 2020 approaches, I expect this will change, and the “Sanders” part of the “Trump/Sanders Phenomenon” [A Major Paradigm Shift Well Underway; Back To The Future; Come, Let Us Reason Together …] will surface again through some other candidate [e.g., Elizabeth Warren, or more likely, somebody of her ilk but much younger — or, maybe even Michelle Obama].
- A 2018 mid-term election cycle that favors Republicans unless Trump’s first term is viewed as a disaster at that point [i.e., more Democrats than Republicans will be up for re-election in 2018, many of them in Republican states]. Based on what’s been in the media recently, it appears that Democrats are gearing up to make Trump’s first term as unproductive as possible, setting the stage [in their view] for major shifts to Democrats [particularly the Senate] in 2018 and 2020 and a White House win in 2020. If Trump’s first term is viewed negatively by most Americans in 2018, and no better or even worse in 2020, that strategy might prove successful. Conversely, if Trump’s first term is viewed as at least “OK” in 2018, and at least as good or even better in 2020, that strategy will seriously backfire and paint Democrats as obstructionists, possibly resulting in even more power flowing to Republicans.
- A President who does not think like practically all his predecessors have, and who may actually: a) threaten vetoes of some legislation even when originated by and supported by a majority of Republicans in both Houses; or b) support some legislation even when originated by and supported by Democrats but opposed by significant numbers of Republicans [but not enough to block passage].
Unfortunately, there is at least one potentially major “fly in the ointment” that may present significant problems vis-a-vis #1 above. At least three Senators [possibly more] probably have their sights set on a Presidential run in 2024 for sure, possibly in 2020 — Paul, Rubio and Cruz. To the extent they see contentious initiatives as opportunities to exert disproportionate influence and keep themselves in the media, they may “take a stand” on some bills on the Republican agenda [Senator Paul has already done this during the very first week of the new Congress in casting the only dissenting Republican vote on the first bill designed as part of repealing the ACA — on the grounds that it does not contribute toward addressing the national debt crisis].
The stage is set …
The bottom line is that the stage is set, probably better than it has been in recent history, for good negotiators to get a lot done — and remember, the ability to negotiate well was a major theme in Mr. Trump’s campaign; it is also evident that he has filled Cabinet and other top staff positions with people he believes possess this ability. For initiatives that Democrats will probably be unified in their efforts to block [like repealing the ACA], Republicans will have to negotiate intensely among themselves if there is no clear consensus at the outset on the details [because in these situations, almost monolithic Republican support would be required in the Senate]. Furthermore, they cannot assume that Trump will sign all bills that passed both houses without any support from Democrats [which means they must have regular dialog with him during development of those bills to ensure that the versions heading to the finish line address any concerns he may have with them].
It will be very interesting to see whether there is early evidence [say, in the “first 100 days” everybody seems to be focused on lately] that the scenario I’ve described in this post is unfolding. I hope it is.
Charles M. Jones