On Friday January 20, 2017 an amazing event will take place. The peaceful transfer of political power is a routine event in the United States of America, but less common in other parts of the otherwise troubled world. In the United States, the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another after as much as two years of a really divisive campaign is a common occurrence and a hallmark of American democracy.
On Friday January 20, 2017 the American government will change hands peacefully. But this year this peaceful transfer will have a different feel to it. The Trumpians are gaining power and because of the unpredictability of the new president and unfamiliarity of the people he has chosen to be in his cabinet, no one knows what to expect. In fact, those with expectations are expecting the worst policies and performances from Trump and his Trumpians.
During the campaign Candidate Trump broke every conventional rule one can think of; some of the most (normally) damaging information imaginable was revealed about him; he was up against one of the most experienced political machines in America headed by a woman in the year of the woman; and still he prevailed.
Now we are learning that the reason Trump prevailed is that just as he predicted, the system was rigged. At a July 27, 2016 news conference, Trump publicly asked Russian computer hackers to hack into Hillary Clinton’s account to find the missing 30,000 emails. The Russians, we are learnings heeded the call.
Beyond that, however, Trump won because a large segment of the voting public (The Trumpians) were able to disregard their principles in favor of their interest in keeping the American government focused on their concerns, to the detriment of diversity.
This coming transfer of power is different because it feels like the U.S. government is being transferred into the hand of aliens from outer space. The Trump cabinet is composed of military generals and billionaires, people whose feel for the common American citizen is so remote they might have well have come from Mars. Oh, and also on the Trump team will be a man who is often described as a “brilliant brain surgeon” but who sounds so much like a babbling idiot on subjects of governance that he lowers the value of the metaphor “brain surgery” that is often assigned to anything brilliant (as in “It’s not brain surgery!”).
The most attentive young Americans, say 14 years and younger, may remember the first inauguration of President Barack Obama because of the historic excitement the election of the first black president caused. Many of these young people can remember only a black president, too young (and lucky) to remember much of the George Bush presidency. So they will have only the Obama model by which to judge the Trump presidency. What will their conclusions be when they get a chance to compare the dignity of Barack Obama to the brutishness of Donald Trump – a black president to a white one?
This transfer of power will feel different because like the gang of street ruffians who knocked over the applecart at the farmers’ market, Trump and his Trumpians have tipped over the tables of norms we are accustomed to, norms that reassure us of our stability. Trumpians use linguistic techniques that seduce, persuade and easily lead other Trumpians, and even the politically neutral, astray. None of the values the American people have long believed in holds true any longer. Now it is okay to ridicule our soldiers, especially the most unfortunate among them, those who had been captured and tortured by our enemies. It is fair game to mock the disabled. Misogyny in even its most despicable forms is forgivable and even rewardable. Trumpian spokespeople are capable of making convincing arguments for these positions to other Trumpians, because a Trumpian is a person who cannot be reasoned with.
This inauguration of Donald J. Trump will be a sad day for many Americans, and perhaps history will prove that it was also a sad day for America. It will in any case be a transfer of political power like none other in the history of the country. It just feels weird; like it will be the forerunner to a great catastrophe – something is going to happen and even Trumpians can feel it, even Trumpians know that the bottom is about to fall out, but they don’t care. After all, it is how you make America great again.