A path out of chaos by @BloggersRUs

A path out of chaos

by Tom Sullivan

Keeping people in his orbit off balance is how Donald Trump maintains his sense of being in control. The actual outcomes of his ventures never mattered to him, Jack O’Donnell, who once ran a casino for Trump in the 1908s, told the New York Times in January. What did matter was finding a quick way to declare himself the victor and damn the collateral damage.

Trump did just that with the Carrier plant he claimed he saved in Indiana before taking office.

Now chaos is finding him. The stock market has been a roller coaster ride for the last two weeks. As usual, when it's up, Trump takes credit. When it's down, someone else is to blame (often, the Federal Reserve). Should the economy fall into recession, this administration has a "dream team for mismanaging" it, says the online headline for Catherine Rampell's column. With the economy flashing warning signs of a recession, Trump knows a faltering economy means faltering chances for his reelection.

An unnamed Republican close to the administration tells the Washington Post, “He’s rattled.”

So are some of his supporters. One New Hampshire Obama/Trump voter, Chad Johansen, tells the Associated Press he's experiencing "Trumpgret" today:

The Republican president has done little to address health care issues for a small employer, he said, and the Manchester man remains on edge about how Trump’s tariffs could affect his business, which employs fewer than 10 people. Beyond that, he said, unrelenting news about bigotry and racism in the Trump administration is “a turnoff.”

“The president’s supposed to be the face of the United States of America,” said Johansen, who voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2012. “And supposed to make everyone be proud to be an American and stand up for everyone who is an American. And I don’t feel that President Trump’s doing that. I feel like it’s chaos.”
Republican "by nature," Gino Brogna, 57, cannot vote for Trump again. He felt his 2016 vote was "necessary," but now feels Trump cannot be trusted to keep his word.

A few people AP spoke with felt Trump gets partial credit for the economy, but not Gary West, 71. The retired steel fabricator now drives a school bus. "Maybe the guy that’s got a million dollars he’s helped," West says. "But I don’t feel like he’s helped me at all."

Any prospective Democratic candidate will have to deliver. And quickly, possibly against a GOP headwind in the Senate.

The Week's Ryan Cooper believes Trump has delivered for the conservative elite. Aided by Republican ruthlessness in Congress, like Reagan and George W. Bush before him Trump has wielded executive authority to accomplish "extreme goals achieved through procedural maximalism and tendentious legal theories." As I have written before, their theory of governance is to find the line, step over it, and dare anyone to push them back. No pushback means a new "line." Rinse, repeat.

Cooper does not want to see Democrats adopting similar goals. But a Democrat in the Oval Office in 2021 has "every right to fight fire with fire when it comes to say, protecting immigrants or the environment, attacking monopoly power, boosting unions, and so forth." Not doing so would simply endorse voters' sense of Democratic timidity and to misunderstand the "basic logic of playground bullies" behind Republican tactics:
Many Democrats seemingly believe that a totally one-sided demonstration of good faith will win them Responsibility Points among the electorate. But what it really shows is that they are suckers who are easily bullied.
Voters will tolerate bullies who will fight for them. It's what these voters in New Hampshire thought they were getting. They won't vote for suckers.

The trick for a Democratic president facing a Mitch McConnell-led Senate will be to outwit the bullies and get things done for workers, maybe even big structural change, without it feeling like more chaos.

Molly Hensley-Clancy at BuzzFeed News provides a fascinating account of how, working below the radar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren managed to cancel loans for 30,000 students defrauded by Corinthian Colleges and other bankrupt for-profit schools. Taking on not just the industry but her own party, Warren looked for statutory weaknesses she could exploit to accomplish her goals without legislation:
“Her theory of change is that you focus on one or two levers, and you push them hard,” said one former government official who worked with Warren on higher education. “She intuitively was like, 'That's the lever.'”
Warren used an “inside/outside strategy” to at once "hammer the administration publicly at the same time she worked behind the scenes with those government officials, acting, many felt, as an ally." When Barack Obama took office, he quickly dismantled his grassroots army rather than allow it to become its own locus of power. Warren wants to cultivate one bigger than ever.
“There’s a part that’s savvy of it — when you channel that outrage, it gets press attention and social media hits, and it built the pressure on institutional actors,” said another former department official. “It’s not that she’s excited to have more social media followers, to be on the TV more. It’s that she sees the building of public will as a way to bend the system towards the interest of working folks who haven’t gotten the kind of protection from the government before.”
Hensley-Clancy writes:
The battle over Corinthian is emblematic of Warren’s unique approach to power: an intense focus on microscopic details alongside an at times bullheaded push for the government to act as an agent of what her campaign now calls “big structural change.” And it is a road map of what Warren’s presidency could look like — particularly if she finds herself pitted against a Republican Senate.
The article is worth your time. Indeed, it might be worth the time of whichever candidate Democrats nominate. Unless a landslide flips the Senate, the next Democrat in the White House is going to need to be bullheaded and creative.