Selective Accountability: On Working With Trump

I don’t know if Donald Trump is a true narcissist, or if acting like a narcissist is just part of his branding. Once America collectively validated him on election day, that line was forever blurred. It no longer makes a difference. What I do know is he does not take well to criticism. I’m not saying don’t criticize him––go ahead and do that. But it’s at least as important to encourage him to do whatever good he promised.

Bernie Sanders’ message since the election has been clear: work with Trump on his left-leaning promises and “oppose him vigorously” on his uber-nationalist, neo-fascistic ideas. Trump ran on the hopes of blue-collar families, and all threats to labor rights ought to be treated as a betrayal to his cause. Bernie reached out to him on this basis to raise the minimum wage, a measure that would do a lot of good for American workers, but would further complicate Trump’s plans to bring production of Oreos, Ford cars, and Apple computers to the United States (as opposed to the much more affordable overseas labor markets).

“I was the first and only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.”

Recently, Bernie pulled up a real beauty of a tweet as the house sharpened its knives and took its first strike to national health care access via the senate budget vote. Holding Trump accountable to his statements, including those made via twitter, is a promising avenue to apply political pressure in the Trump era.

But it’s also a deeply just method. Trump’s twitter is toxic. Twitter is toxic. Alongside you and me and all our favorite celebrities, Twitter is inhabited by a marked white supremacist presence. Among such accounts you’ll find 35% of Trump’s followers. Megan Kelly went on Fresh Air to debrief details on her exchanges with Trump, and revealed that he threatened in private to “unleash his beautiful twitter account” on her. Nothing will feel more satisfying than to hold Trump accountable to something he promised in exchange for a hundred thousand shares and favorites. How often is it this easy to turn someone’s own political weapon against them? It will just take effort and attention.

Without the burden of a coherent political ideology, and with the chance to appear on practically every news-o-tainment show, Donald Trump was free to be extremely fluid in his predictions for his presidency. It was as though he could hire God himself to make anything happen as soon as he claimed the oval office. I hadn’t really considered that he’d get the chance to do anything, but now we get to (selectively) ask him to make good on such promises.

Researching this article lead me to pick through the shitheap that is Trump’s campaign promises. This WaPo list of promises includes no shortage of the dumb, fatuous, and racist, one or two war crimes and a heck of a lot of vague. I’m talking about his stated intentions to surveil mosques, ban Muslim immigrants, buy the Chinese president a McDonald’s hamburger, call Iran’s leader “baby,” allow Russia to deal with the Islamic State in Syria (either not realizing or caring our nations support opposite sides in Syria’s continuing civil war), target and kill the relatives of terrorists, renew waterboarding, and force specific companies like Apple, Ford, and Nabisco to move their manufacturing to America (a standard he has himself repeatedly failed to meet).

This list underscores an important fact when it comes to understanding Trump, that his supporters take him “seriously not literally.” They liked how unprepared he was, he who prepped for the debate by practicing “zingers” over cheeseburgers in lieu of reviewing relevant information. This kept expectations as loose as the waistband on the proverbial four-hundred pound hacker who Trump invented to cover Russia’s ass. Having a president who can write off so many of his campaign promises as just a joke disturbs me, but this article isn’t about me feeling disturbed. It’s about the good stuff.

Some good stuff stands out in the shit heap. Unfortunately much of it–most of it–is difficult to objectively argue to a man with little use for facts. In conjunction with cuts to Planned Parenthood, how does, “I will take care of women, and I have great respect for women. I do cherish women, and I will take care of women” translate into policy?

Things looked grim. And then what does he do? He showers gold upon us all in the form of this weekend’s promises: “We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” What leftist utopia have I stumbled upon? Things got even better when he went on to say drug companies would be beholden to the government in setting prices for their medicine. That promise gets all the sweeter when considering pharmaceutical asshole and Trump supporter, Martin Shrikelli, whose unending fifteen minutes of fame began when he bought and subsequently hiked the price of HIV medication. He’s also the owner of Wu Tang’s unreleased album, the release of which he leveraged against Clinton’s bid for the presidency, to throw his weight behind Trump.

But do I really think Trump is about to turn on Shrikelli and all the plutocrats whose taxes he promised to slash? No. I have almost no hope of it. But I also appreciate Megyn Kelly’s reading of Trump as a true populist, one who endorses whatever’s trending (unless of course, in the case of his position on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine, there’s some treasonous backdoor power making the call). But Trump is prone to taking many contradictory stances, as one would expect from a reality star who entered the running with few discernible policy positions or even a working knowledge of public policy. It helps too that he thrives on gossip and chatter, which tend to get funneled separately into separate media channels, such that his supporters hear what they want to hear and his critics see what shock us.

Here’s an interesting fact to never, ever forget about trump. An attorney of his revealed the policy among his bankruptcy lawyers was to never meet with Trump one on one, because he lied too much. “We tried to [meet in pairs] with Donald always if we could because Donald says certain things and has a lack of memory.” We the American public got a crash course in this cute trait of his throughout the campaign, and it will take public and vigorous re-reminding him of the nobler things he said to get any good done. Because to some people out there, vocal people too, it’s all the shit in the shitheap that they LIKE about him. And then there will be his cabinet members, assisting Trump in his vision for the US, with long stated positions in direct opposition to Trump’s most popular rallying calls.

There will be many vying for Trump’s attention in the years ahead: his dream scenario. It would be my dream scenario for the folksy wisdom that I discovered in North Dakota (on your right, dear read) to ring true.