It’s been a long 100 days. Those first couple weeks made it seem like we might not even make it this long, what with mass protests and daily revelations about cabinet officials and their ties to Russian puppet masters. But it’s amazing what you can get used to. Now it’s another day, another ridiculous tweet, another set of cynical Spicerian fabrications, another wave of outrage–while the few actual executive appointees dutifully grind away at the last protections for the marginalized against predation by the privileged.
We have learned a few things I think. First, the incompetence has been a kind of blessing. Think of where we’d be if the White House were not full of backbiting half-wits thrown together merely through their pledge of fealty to an illiterate narcissist. The ideological incoherence has also helped. Imagine if the right-wing nationalism had not been self-sabotaged by Bannon’s anarcho-nihilism. It could have been a lot worse (and it may still be). Yes, having a distractible toddler in our highest office is often frightening, but that lack of focus also means we are still part of NATO, there’s no trade war with China and Seoul is not a nuclear ash heap (for now).
We’ve also definitely learned some things about the current state of our democracy. We’ve seen that when a president is forced by a partisan congress to legislate through executive action, much of that legacy can be quickly unraveled by the next administration. We’ve learned that basic standards of political discourse and practice can be flauted, and yet the central checks and balances continue to function.
I hope we’ve also learned to avoid reductionist dismissals of those who voted for this flimflam man. Was it racism, or economic insecurity, or sexism, or Fox News, or social marginalization or rebellion against the condescending finger wagging of coastal elites? Yes. It was all of these things. And while many liberals bristle at the idea of having any sympathy for the people who got us into this mess, we now know that a lot of damage can be done while we write off fly-over country and reassure ourselves that we are ultimately on the right side of history.