Commentary: They’ve had a chance!

“As an octogenarian and a political junkie, I’ve lived through many a presidential election. But I’ve never seen anything like the 2016 contest.

It had an unprecedented crowd of Republican candidates. The ultimate Democratic field included an old Socialist who had never been, in a real sense, a Democrat. We now know that Russia was an active partisan participant in the fray. And the loser had approximately 3,000,000 more votes than the winner.

The GOP group included an uncommon type. He was a liar who had never held public office, was a repeated bankrupt, a reckless abuser not only of his opponents and women, but anyone else who crossed his path (like a federal judge – because his parents were Hispanics). He was a major peddler of the vile falsehood that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. This is but a fraction of his moral outrages. A resume like this, until the day before yesterday in history, would have doomed a candidate for dog catcher. Today he’s president of the United States. How could this be?

There are many who were angry with the status quo and with the more customary politicians who had failed, in their cases, to have delivered the goods. Some had lost their jobs due to economic shifts. Others had long endured stagnant wages while the Wall Streeters rolled in vulgar wealth. Donald Trump capitalized in this mood and delighted in using low tactics and glowing promises, apparently to these voters’ pleasure. Wonder where, for the duration, they stored the religious beliefs said to sustain them? And did they really believe the Republicans, who have carried water for the rich as long as we’ve known them, would take care of the little guy?

Some slack might be given to those electing Trump who have been dealt a rotten hand by the economy. That cannot be said for the traditional Republicans, relatively well off and educated, who crawled aboard the Trump bandwagon (or more accurately, manure spreader) with their eyes wide open.

Once winners and losers gained composure after the shock of election night, the victors assured the world that Donald Trump would perform much differently as president. Give him a chance, they pleaded.

What have we seen? One of the most consistent practices of this new chief executive is the pathological need to lie. Has it been harmful? The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, long the mouthpiece of conservatives and Republicans, had this to say the other day:

“We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.”

One of the Trump promises was the most rigorous vetting of immigrants. Yet the vetting of those he named to the highest offices must have been casual at best. One of the top level has already been forced to resign and others have withdrawn.

The first order of business for Mr. Trump and the congressional Republicans was the repeal of Obamacare. The House Republicans had the time and energy over seven years to pass bills killing that program about 60 times. Strange that with the vigorous support from the president (the ultimate deal maker), they were unable to pass one single proposal ending Obamacare and enacting Trumpcare. A blessing it was. The legislation would have been a disaster for the Trump faithful and, indeed, for all lower income people.

The Trump orders governing immigrants and refugees, both the first and second editions, have been halted by the courts. There are serious investigations under way into possible connections between Trump operatives and the Russians. There’s the president’s budget, with severe cuts and in some cases elimination of programs of vital importance to Trump’s base.

It should come as no surprise that ignorance and incompetence in government and governing have resulted in rare chaos and worse in the administration. Much of the cabinet is made up of billionaires, whose experience has been primarily making money.

My batting average in political predictions is shaky. But I am confident that, within a year, many of those same Republicans will be so appalled by what is going on that they will join the rest of us in resistance.

Bob Lowerre is a retired attorney who resides in Woodstock.