The inauguration of a new president next week threatens to make a lot of Americans feel uncomfortable. Rather than take pleasure in their pain, I believe we should regard them with kindness and concern. Their fears may be well-founded.
Just to be clear, I am not talking about the losers in the election. I am talking about the winners. The losers will regroup with new energy and purpose, because you can’t keep a good phoenix down in the ashes of its own destruction. That pesky bird always rises and squawks up a storm.
The winners do not yet understand what a cruel fate awaits them. With their customary class, they are too busy calling the losers crybabies. On Inauguration Day, their champagne corks will be popping. They won’t realize that champagne bubbles rise and burst and theirs will mimic their illusions. Pop, pop, pop.
Mark my words. The winners are the ones who deserve our sympathy. They own it now, the whole dash darned lot of it, the economy, domestic troubles and world tribulations. Who would want to own it?
Everything comes back at you. After Barack Obama became president, do you remember how any reference even mildly suggesting criticism of George W. Bush was hooted down in a fit of right-wing political correctness?
Why, I’d write a column daring to say some obvious truth — such as Obama inherited a totally tanked economy from his predecessor — and a choir of trolls would leap into defensive action: “You’re blaming Bush again,” they’d sing.
Fair enough. So, come Jan. 20, blaming Obama won’t be permitted either. I am sure the winners will want to abide by their own precedent. However, they may find this spoils the fun.
As best as I can tell, the whole point of being a conservative is to seethe with resentment at what those horrible liberals have done. But if the liberals are not in charge any more, who can you blame but yourself if things don’t go well? This creeping realization will be the long shadow falling over next week’s triumphant celebration.
In fairness, it is possible that President Trump may be successful because the man’s only predictable trait is to be totally unpredictable. I sincerely wish he does surprise us by doing some good. But it is also possible that human ears might vibrate like hummingbird wings and make a person levitate. In both cases, it’s possible but unlikely.
As nobody can predict the future with certainty, and many failed pundits should be sitting on street corners right now with signs saying, “Will comment for food,” how do I have the temerity to suggest that Trump won’t succeed? Not to boast, but temerity is my strength.
Besides, it comes down to character. You either believe character is the foundation of success or you don’t. As to Trump’s character, I would rather take the word of a shady salesman in a used-car dealership behind on the rent than trust the new president on anything.
What I don’t know is when exactly his supporters will realize they have been sold a star-spangled clunker. Will it be when the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act causes chaos in the health care system and leaves millions of Americans without coverage?
Will the duped ones wake up when regulations are rolled back and they discover that people who breathe, drink and eat don’t personally profit from poisoned air, fouled water and tainted food? Will it be when the Great Wall of Trump turns out to be a sorry little fence and we, not the Mexicans, are paying for it?
Perhaps they will get wise at last when they discover that all the billionaires and millionaires in the Trump Cabinet are not really populists but will do what these worthies have done throughout recorded history — in short, shove the average working guy with the sharp end of a stick.
When these misfortunes unfold, thanks to the elected bull (elephant) in the china shop, conservatives cannot claim the excuse that Trump is not a conservative. I used to say that about him but he has made conservatism into his own crude image. Now it rises and falls with him.
Pity then the winners, whose hopes are vulnerable to death by a thousand embarrassments. To be sure, the losers were surprised by their own Pearl Harbor. But as Admiral Yamamoto supposedly said, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
Reg Henry is a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org