Days of Change

Escalation | January 18, 2017

In the real world, a state that makes gun ownership legal and fairly easy has less gun crime than a state or city that restricts or bans guns. In liberal world, gun grabbing cities blame the states around them for letting guns in. Countries that ban guns entirely have less gun crime, but the crimes (and suicides) are committed with different weapons and can be more gory and violent.

States with open carry and allowances for guns in bars and even schools don’t see random shootings over petty disagreements. Even hotheads know that if other people around them have guns, firing one off in anger could lead to hot lead between their eyes. Mutually assured destruction is scary because it requires that most of the principles be sane, but it works pretty well.

There are two things about a Trump administration that worry me. One is that Trump and his supporters will continue to seek revenge on their enemies under the belief that they can’t retaliate. The other is that Trump and his supporters will continue to seek revenge on their detractors who are conservatives, Republicans, potential allies or all of the above.

The Trump jobs program currently consists of offering tax breaks to businesses that create US jobs and threatening companies that move jobs. Once in power, Trump will have to deliver on promises or threats and the GOP is already unwilling to impose tariffs. Trump can take his case directly to the people, but only 46% of the ones who voted picked him. If three Republican senators out of the half dozen who have axes to grind decide to take Trump on, the Donald may actually learn the art of the deal.

Then there’s his biggest enemy, the press. The media generally tried to get Hillary Clinton elected. If Russian hacking of e-mail and distribution of fake news did anything, it was to level the playing field. However, Trump won’t have Hillary Clinton to kick around anymore. She isn’t the alternative is Trump screws up. The people who picked Trump because they hated him less that Hillary could sour quickly if he doesn’t deliver on whatever they perceive to be his mandate. Even if the media is “against” Donald Trump, the people who are unwaveringly pro-Trump make up less than 40% of the population.

The potential with a combative Trump administration is a preference cascade. Trump attempts to change the law, the media point out problems, and House and Senate members start to fear voter backlash generated by the media instead of by Trump. Anti-Trump Republicans didn’t do that bad in 2016. If Trump can’t rule them by fear, he may not have a whole lot else. Then the media reports his failures and unwillingness to compromise and suddenly Trump is reduced to a meat puppet controlled by the GOP until the next presidential election. Or the Democrats take the Senate in 2018.

The good news for me is that the Democrats can’t do any damage. I’m just wondering if the Republicans can get anything done.

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