The first Star Trek “reboot” took the bold act of altering the past in a famous fictional timeline. The new movies have the freedom to reinvent, while we watch the movies, fully aware what “really” happened. This got taken to extremes for “Into the Darkness”, when the last half hour echoed word for word the greatest Star Trek movie ever made with a character swap, but it’s still pretty clever.
Ever since Trump won in November, I’ve felt like we’re all living through an alternate timeline. Like Tom Hanks’ “Doug” said in that sublime Black Jeopardy skit, “Come on, they already decided who wins even before it happens”. Everyone of any importance knew Hillary would win. Jobs were accepted. Plans were made.
But while I see it as a reboot, an opportunity to rewrite the future, all the people with any voice or influence think of the election as Yesterday’s Enterprise. Just as the Enterprise C slipped through the temporal rift and forestalled the truce between the Klingons and the Federation, so too did a whole bunch of voters escape the notice of the Deep State. Which is a good thing, because otherwise the Deep State have taken action before the election . Trump would have been doped up and stuck in bed with a dead transgender Muslim and a live boy peeing on him. Not that this would have cost him the election, but at least they’d have grounds for an arrest.
Instead, most of the elite institutions were stunned by the actual voters making a choice that defied all their warnings, their manifest horror at Trump’s candidacy, never mind his primary triumph. They haven’t stopped trying to convince us of our mistake.
A couple weeks ago, I was really upset at the many corners of the media openly and excitedly debating whether it’d be better to use impeachment or the 25th Amendment to rid themselves of this meddlesome Trump–where even the opponents to the idea concurred that Trump was a witless boob, inept and obviously unfit, that impeachment was reasonable or that the fish rots from the head.
When I realized that the feeling was….familiar. Flashback to a year earlier, back in March and April, when anti-Trump elite GOPs were debating the best way to rig the convention, gleefully mocking Trump and his voters as Cruz stole his delegates, happily contemplating a Kasich-Cruz alliance. Deep in the stunning beauty of central Idaho, I was struggling to enjoy spring break because I knew, beyond any doubt, that the media and institutional powers of the conservative movement would do anything within their power to deny the voters’ choice.
At some point, I realized the idiocy of letting this nonsense get to me and went hiking. Well, walking around a mountain and going up a few hundred feet. It felt like hiking.
But Trump triumphed. We got to mock Nate Silver’s open dismissal of Paul Manafort’s prediction of locking up the nomination as “delusional” when in fact the job got done earlier than expected. We had the fun of watching the delegates boo Ted Cruz. We all enjoy reminding Jonah Goldberg that he followed Bill Mitchell on Election Day “for kicks”,confidently expecting to retweet Bill’s pained realization of Trump’s obliteration.
Despite all those earlier outrageous, determined efforts, here we are on what, the fifth catastrophe that the media predicted will wipe out Trump’s presidency? Shrug. They’ll find something else. Why get angry? It didn’t work last time. So I let go of the anger, and enjoyed the drama queen Comey telling his tale.
I don’t understand those who are disappointed in Trump’s achievements. Bush 43 had near total control of Congress and got No Child Left Behind. After 2002 he had full control of Congress and passed Medicare Part D. From 2005-2007, he did everything possible, including race-shaming, to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform. A few days after 9/11, he arranged a photo op with Muslims to make sure no one had Bad Thoughts.
Meanwhile, Trump is appointing judges, deporting illegal aliens, and building the wall.He’s letting the military take it to ISIS and Syria. He’s rolling back environmental policies and stepped out of the Paris Accords. He’s ringing employment to the industrial regions that supported him–maybe not as much as they need, but more than they had. I don’t like Betsy much, but at least she’s doing some interesting evasions on IDEA and special ed.
How much virtual ink has been spilled on the deportations, on Paris, on the environmental policies? How many politicians before Trump wouldn’t risk media disapproval? He’s shown what can be done. That’s an invaluable service.
Much of the rest is noise. Turns out many important people aren’t really concerned about what a president does, so long as he only has one scoop of ice cream at dinner while he carefully discusses his hopes for Michael Flynn’s future. Whatever charge the media flings, there’s a countercharge about a prior presidency. If I am too cynical about Washington, if there is a measurable difference between Trump and his predecessors in terms of the venal opportunism found in his government officials, you’ll forgive me if I’m unconvinced by the assurance of those “experts” who called for impeaching Bill Clinton, invading Iraq or Afghanistan, and/or electing the incompetent naif Barack Obama on the country.
Is Trump suited to be President? Beats me. Should he be hiring more people? Maybe. Is he upsetting European leaders? I certainly hope so. I don’t see him as a bully or a dictator. I’ve never been convinced by those who do.
Do I want more? Sure. Like most of his immigration restrictionist supporters, I’m unhappy that he’s still approving DACA waivers and extensions. I hope his daughter and son-in-law go back to New York. Would I like less tweeting, more thoughtfulness? Yes. Do I wish his cabinet didn’t look like the Goldman Sachs retirement weekend? Absolutely. Less emphasis on tax breaks and other GOP wishlist items? Indeed. But as far as hard asks go, just one: cease and desist any talk of firing Jeff Sessions.
Still, if Trump were note-perfect, he’d still be facing a huge, hostile force. Of all the institutional wisdom that Trump showed up as canard, the media’s power took the biggest hit. Trump showed conclusively that the media is only speaking to half the country (usually the left). No other conclusion is possible. The media has no influence over the people; it’s just preaching to its believers. Worse, the people now know that the media didn’t change a single mind. Profits are up, because their half of the country is enraged and active. But they’ll never again be able to pretend their reporting speaks to the entire country, or that they influence public opinion. They keep trying–the sob stories about the deportees, the stenography of various government leakers, the outright fake news (tells us again how Trump was under investigation, guys!). But the whole of the public remains curiously unmoved, despite the hype.
The media wants to change the world back to way it was. What’s happening now is all wrong, they’re not supposed to be here, they have to fix it. If they can just keep the pressure on and play for time, someone who “wasn’t supposed to be here” will drag the wounded Enterprise C back a hundred years to be destroyed. The timeline can be restored.
So it’s ungrateful and even a bit stupid to demand Trump alter every personality trait that got him this far. Trump has the perfect characteristics for moving America in spite of media outrage. He’s sublimely unconcerned about how things are done, comfortable with violating norms. Crass. Obnoxious. Unflinching. Self-absorbed. They might not be comfortable qualities in a roommate, but they’ll do nicely to protect him during the onslaught.
Because it’s going to get time to get everyone accepting the reboot. Note that political pundits still fixate on approval numbers. You know, the kind that comes from polls. Like the polls that predicted Hillary would win. Paul Ryan and other respectable Republicans are still trying to figure out how they can win media approval, win support from moderates, and improve their polling numbers.
They should take a page from Mitch McConnell’s book. Back when Ryan was playing Hamlet, McConnell quietly told his senators to do whatever they needed to do, and held on like grim death to that empty Supreme Court seat. These days, McConnell refuses to be gobsmacked by the intemperate Trump. Sure, he’d like less drama. But in the meantime, he’s getting it done.
I wish everyone in GOPVille would do the same. What I want, of course, are more people following Trump’s example. The first one to violate expectations had to be a billionaire who didn’t need donors with a willful desire to offend people. But with time, others will be able to build on his first steps. Others might be equally willing to brave disapproval but, dare I say, more temperamentally suited to government. Many of Trump’s policies have already become accepted–if not respectable, at least not reviled. Over time, more will. That’s my hope–that others build on his success, the knowledge that his policies have tremendous support. Embrace the alternate timeline.
That’s the best way of ensuring the changes will hold, that calls to end Trump’s presidency fade. Sure, the pendulum will swing back. I’m just hoping for more changes that permanently alter the landscape. Don’t let the media win and enforce the pretense that the alternate timeline didn’t ever happen. Let this be a genuine reboot where Christopher Pike gets a better death, rather than a temporary odd happenstance that had no effect once Enterprise C went back.
Of course, this advice could be coming from a Klingon who’d rather achieve total victory over the Federation than a treaty in which both sides move forward in peace. You takes your chances.
In case you’re new and missed my other political pieces (I usually do education):
(destiny quote from R. Stevens, dieselsweeties.com)