Election Day + 3 #1: Trying to Make Trump Normal

There’s a kind of normalizing going on, which I suppose is human and psychologically essential in dealing with this election. “Maybe Trump won’t be so bad. His victory speech was conciliatory.” Or try this one. “Maybe Trump won’t be so bad; he’ll be surrounded by the Republican business wing and foreign policy establishments, which are pretty sane.”

On that last, has anyone noticed that the first names to come to the surface for key appointments are the small band of devotees who defended Trump during the campaign: Rudy Guliani, with his vicious attitudes toward Muslims and African Americans, Chris Christie of Bridgegate fame, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who knows the Keystone pipeline would come into the U.S. from Canada but has no idea there are already 35 energy pipelines now functioning that go the opposite way? Then there is Newt Gingrich, whose confrontational style during his last appearance in national office set the stage for today’s uncompromising, fight-to-the-death politics. Gingrich wants Trump to go after union protections for federal employees, to break the back of unions just as Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. Messy while you’re doing it, but when you win you’ve neutralized a big block of potentially Democratic voters.

On being conciliatory: Trump’s business model is very clear, and it has worked for him. He overpays for projects, either because he doesn’t know the difference or because he impulsively just wants something, like the Plaza Hotel. He uses borrowed money. When the underlying business fundamentals don’t support the operation, he blusters and threatens to walk away unless his creditors discount what they are owed to pennies on the dollar. Often it works. Even when he loses the project, like the Plaza, he comes away with something. That’s how he’s accumulated his wealth, whatever it might be — only billions if you allow him the highly inflated brand value of his name.  Ask anyone who’s bought property in a Trump-branded building if the price was worth the premium they paid for having his name on the outside in gold.

Does that sound like a conciliator to you?

There is no question, because Republicans control all three branches of government and in January, the Supreme Court, that Trump et al will do whatever they want. For decent people, for people who wanted our votes to affirm an open, welcoming, inclusive society based on merit, there’s nothing “normal” about it. Am I saying that a vote for Trump wasn’t a decent way to vent voter anger and frustration? Yes, actually.

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