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Is There Cause for Optimism on Trump?

photo-immigrant-rally-2-17There’s said to be an old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” We are certainly living in interesting times with Donald Trump.

I almost wrote “under Donald Trump.”

But the evidence has mounted in the chaotic three weeks of this administration of incompetent revolutionaries. And one thing is increasingly clear: While we will be living with Trump for several years to come, we don’t have to see ourselves as living under him or his rule.

The resistance to Trump’s overreach has been building since Day One of our new president, when millions of forward-looking Americans joined women’s marches against his backward agenda.

In the wake of the recent blitzkrieg from Trump’s White House bunker, those marches may now seem like ancient history.

But recall those photos comparing the Washington Mall crowd on Inauguration Day to Obama inauguration crowds, and to the masses that marched on Washington the day after Trump was sworn in.

Yes, a lot of those people looked silly in pussy hats. But the many messages of those marches – that women won’t be manhandled or mansplained away, that Planned Parenthood, child care, and climate change matter – those sentiments aren’t going away.

I’m probably like most politically moderate and progressive Americans: My reaction to the reality of a Trump presidency has vacillated with each news cycle. From disbelief to horror to denial.

From “I refuse to watch the news,” to “Who’s Don Lemon interviewing tonight?” From seeking refuge among friends, family, meditation and yoga, to going online to learn about the latest outrage.

One of the striking things about public dismay over Trump – his polls are at historic lows for a new president and the Muslim ban seems more unpopular by the day – is how many people have taken to the streets.

The women’s marches drew a huge coalition of the worried well into public spaces. Many of them had never waved a sign in public.

Even little Montpelier drew a crowd of anti-Trump marchers that was more than twice the population of the town – and big enough to shut down I-89 as people made their way to our capital city.

These days, my reaction to Trump has turned to optimism about the future. Let me tell you why.

First, the Woo-Woo Big Picture. Then the barricades and lastly down to business.

In the Big Picture, I take heart from writers like Eckhart Tolle and Barbara Marx Hubbard. They point out that natural and political evolution often occur in times of crisis.

British oppression of the budding merchant class prompted the American Revolution. It took a deathly civil war to end slavery. It will probably take environmental tragedies to force us to evolve to sustainable energy and wiser use of limited resources.

It’s possible that we are at another such evolutionary point.

Trump is about to give humanity a powerful primer in the dark side of racism, sexism, private greed, bully behavior, business unfettered by environmental concerns, and nationalism unchecked by the reality of other nations.

And as we used to say during Vietnam, the whole world is watching.

Now to the barricades.

In the wake of the women’s marches, the immigrant/refugee ban was greeted by flash demonstrations at airports — the very day it was announced.

Many more protests followed. A national campaign delegitimized Uber when it took advantage of a New York taxi drivers strike that was protesting the bans.

Locally, over 500 Middlebury College and community people rallied last week against the bans. College President Laurie Patton gave powerful voice to the widespread sentiment that Trump’s actions are deeply unAmerican.

Now 350.org and other green groups are planning to recreate the People’s Climate March that brought more than 400,000 people to New York in 2014. This time the action will be in Washington, D.C. on April 29.

Expect a crowd.

For those who don’t want to rush to the barricades, let’s talk about business. There are many reasons to think that Trump’s America will not be good for the economy.

Already, nearly 100 of our most successful tech companies have rushed into court to challenge Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-refugee policy as bad for business in a global world.

While the stock market experienced an initial Trump Bump, investors are now reevaluating. Will a president hooked on being unpredictable be good for business because he’ll reduce regulations? Or will drastic market shifts caused by chaotic deregulation unlevel the playing field (hurting entrepreneurs and small companies), and make it impossible to plan for reliable profits?

Will trade protectionism benefit American workers and companies? Or will it hurt our many exporter companies, prompt tariff wars, and impede the growth of U.S. companies that have benefited from trade agreements like NAFTA?

In healthcare (disclosure: I consult for health technology companies), the plans of Trump and the GOP to repeal the Affordable Care Act are already frightening hospitals, doctors, nurses, insurers and many others.

They worry that the 20 million people newly provided with health insurance — plus those who have gained Medicaid through the ACA — will soon be aced out of coverage. They know that when insurance coverage plummets, so does revenue to hospitals, doctors and indeed to most of the healthcare system that helps keep us well.

Like it or not, healthcare in America is a business. It’s now one subjected to enormous uncertainty about what Trump and the GOP will do.

Businesses hate uncertainty.

Consider those Three B’s together: the Big Picture of evolution; more people on the Barricades, and Trumpian threats to Business As Usual.

An insurgent president might survive one or two of those forces.

But when you’re a minority president — and when history, the popular majority and economic forces are against you – well, you’re gonna have a rough ride.

– 30 –

 

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