Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting and seeing

Back in November I wrote about a conversation my parents and I had with one of the nurses who was taking care of Dad.

In her view, the media was biased against Trump and took things out of context to make him look bad. She didn't like the appointment of Steve Bannon, but she wanted to keep an open mind and see what Trump was actually going to do.

The conversation devolved into whether Trump was going to take us on a path like Hitler did with Germany. She was insistent that "It's not going to come to that." And of course, she may turn out to be right.

Our question was, "What will you do if it does come to that?"

And her answer was essentially, "But it won't."

Which isn't a great answer, but on reflection, we weren't asking the best question, either.

Because presumably, there's something short of full-on Hitler that's still very, very bad, and somewhere that the U.S. shouldn't be going.

I still see this idea on Facebook threads: You need to keep an open mind. He hasn't done anything yet. Give him a chance.

The question for anyone who says that is the same as what we should have asked Dad's nurse. "When will you have seen enough? Can you tell me now what action of Trump's - something less bad than flat-out opening up concentration camps - you would consider an unacceptable weakening of democratic practice?"

But even that is asking too narrow a hypothetical, because even if he weren't making noises about curbing the press, even if he ends up leaving democratic norms unscathed, there's still a raft of policy decisions he will make and his decisions on those have the potential for disastrous consequences.

Take climate change, for example. Obama didn't have us on a path for a real solution, and Hillary Clinton's platform wasn't going to get us there either. But they were at least trying to turn the ship in the right direction, within the limits of political possibility as they understood them. Instead we elected a man who has called the idea of climate change a hoax.

"Keep an open mind. He hasn't done anything yet. Give him a chance."
  1. How long do you propose we wait until we decide whether he's committing us to a disastrous acceleration of greenhouse-gas emissions?
  2. Can you tell me now what action of his would suggest to you that he really is going to go backwards on climate action?
Or health insurance. His nominee for Health and Human Services secretary is an opponent not just of Obamacare, but of employer-sponsored health insurance as well. The economics of health insurance are pretty simple, that that would be a disaster. The Affordable Care Act has problems, but it's basically the least the government can "run" health insurance while dealing with the problems of private health-insurance markets.

Meanwhile, the Congress continues on a path toward repealing the ACA, and Trump issues an executive order to undermine the administration of it right away, and neither Congress nor the White House have presented any coherent plan for what will replace it.

When will you have enough evidence that, at best, Trump and his party have no idea what they're doing in the realm of health care? And will you try to stop a process that will cost 30 million people their access to reasonable quality health care?

Or will you wait and see whether it really happens?

Any time someone says we should wait and see, ask for specifics.

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