Magazine | January 23, 2017, Issue

New-Year Trump Fears

For many who believe that thinking “long-term” means going from a month-to-month cell-phone service to an annual contract, 2016 was horrible. Why? Because some musicians died and Hillary lost. If Prince and Bowie had not perished and Clinton had thumped Trump, 2016 would have been an awesome year. Amirite, Aleppo? Oh, right. Sorry. Well, better luck next year.

Every year is a sack of gold and lead — 2001 was looking okay until the second week of September, as I recall, but there was always something worrisome on the news. There’s always a story like this: Separatists in East Grupacia bomb police station in hopes of rejoining West Grupacian rebels to form Lower Grupacia. Or there’s the disease story: “Once thought vanquished, E. stromboli reappears as public-health threat in Gambia,” which lets New York Times readers feel special, as they care for a moment about Gambia.

Every year: North Korea blows something up. A beloved pop-culture icon perishes. One of these years you will read that Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist, has died, but only because their touring jet was hit by a North Korean missile. Sad, yes, but he had been battling stromboli.

The very people who hope 2017 will be better keep telling one other that it can’t be better, because the New Dark Ages are upon us. Because they lost! You might notice that the Right responds like this to a presidential defeat:

“Well, drat. Four years of incremental diminution of liberty and the permanent expansion of the state, with some foreign policy based on a Pollyanna view of human nature and a misguided trust in international institutions.”

The Left’s response to a loss: Here comes Super-Hitler.

As many have noted, the Left’s reaction to the Trump victory has been enough to push right-leaning Trumpophobes into the MAGA camp. Many conservatives are still wary, but they’re not expecting the utter ruination of American society. The Left is like Mom when you walked into the kitchen after she waxed: Oh, I just fundamentally transformed that floor and now you’re tracking regulatory reform everywhere!

Progs will have to remain in a state of fury and fear for the duration of the administration, just to remind themselves that they are better people. They’re the smart ones, the only people who see the horrible future — armies of swaggering young men in brown shirts and red caps, pushing around helpless marginalized people while the soundtrack plays either mindless martial music or mournful ethnic dirges, depending on the decision of the documentary editor.

Here’s what they’ll fear, and what will probably happen:

Fear: Surge in hate crimes. Actually, that’s more of a hope. “See? See? What did we tell you?”

Probable reality: A surge in stories that say “Man who said he was beaten by 250 Trump supporters in Trump masks chanting ‘Trump!’ retracts story after security-camera footage shows him alone, reading his phone, and walking into a pole.”

Fear: Trump will roll back LGBTQ rights and set back the fight for bathroom equality, because Mike Pence will blast him with high-frequency Jesus Beams.

Probable reality: People will go about their lives, learning that it is not necessary to feel the president’s approval to be happy.

Fear: Trump’s antipathy to the Environmental Protection Agency means that all the regulations will be repealed and the air and water will go back to the filthy state of 2007.

Probable reality: Mar-a-Lago gets a waiver to increase chlorine in the pools.

Fear: Trump will force California to remove the signs on every building that say, in essence, “The State of California has determined that there are substances inside this building that might possibly give a rat cancer if it ate nine pounds of the stuff daily.”

Probable reality: Ever heard of federalism, kids? No? You’re going to love it.

Fear: He will institute some National Youth Cadre, meaning that kids in their formative years will be forced to join some government organization.

Probable reality: The Junior Jaycees see a small bump in membership.

Fear: He will abolish the Department of Education, and abolish public schools!

Probable reality: What was that about kids in their formative years forced into government organizations? Anyway, the Education Department has fewer students than a community college’s “Esperanto for Blind Mimes” course. The ED didn’t exist until 1980. Yet somehow we invented flight, built the Hoover Dam, and went to the moon. Saying it’s responsible for education is like saying there wasn’t any atomic fission in the sun until the government created the Department of Energy. Speaking of which . . .

Fear: As DOE head, Rick Perry will let frackers frack wherever they frackin’ want! We will do nothing about climate change and probably jail people who make solar panels.

Probable reality: Yes, the U.S. will produce more energy. We will sell it to other countries and lots of people will have good jobs. Hint for understanding the last election: Millions of people think that’s all a good thing and are pretty sure the people who think it’s a bad thing have jobs like writing captions for Buzzfeed stories like “These 37 Soy Puddings Will Make You Glad Your Abortion Fell on a Tuesday.”

Fear: Russia will replace the U.S. as a significant influence in Europe and absorb the Baltics.

Probable reality: Well, you have something there. But look at you, all hawkish and anti-Russkie ’n’ stuff all of a sudden. When the scales fell from your eyes, did they sound like two manhole covers falling on a sheet of steel?

In short, their worst fears will not come to pass. Which might be their greatest fear of all.

James Lileks — James Lileks writes the Athwart column for National Review magazine and is a frequent contributor to the National Review website. He is a prominent voice on Ricochet podcasts.

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