This morning on Morning Joe, Bob Woodward called out Joe Scarborough for endlessly focusing on Donald Trump without ever asking the serious questions, like “Can Trump govern?” This is a common sanctimonious trope of the “serious people” in Washington over the past few weeks: “let’s stop focusing on Trump so we can get back to the ‘serious’ election process with the ‘serious’ candidates.”
I’m disturbed by Trump as much as the next guy, but let’s get real here: the current process isn’t that serious without him.
When it comes to domestic policy, no candidate would be able to honestly answer that they “can govern” that much better than Trump because domestic policy is, for the most part, controlled by Congress and Congress is fundamentally broken. First, Congress is flooded with corporate lobbyist campaign contributions that distort the legislative process and disconnect the legislative process from the general public sentiment. Second, Congress’ members are so taken by Washington paychecks that over 60% of those from the last Congress that aren’t in this Congress are lobbying their former colleagues for the sake of private interests. Third, Congressional districts are so gerrymandered that in many places, the candidates are choosing their favorite voters instead of the voters choosing their favorite candidates. Finally, politics has become so deadening, available voting technology has become so suppressed, present vehicles for citizen engagement have proven so lackluster that tens millions of Americans do not have their voices heard on election day to hold Congress accountable. Does Woodward want Trump to get out of the way so that he has time to promote one of the only serious candidates, Lawrence Lessig, who actually has articulated a serious plan to fix Congress? Doubtful.
When it comes to foreign policy, actions by the previous two Presidents have resulted in the deaths of ~150,000 Iraqi civilians (which, at the absolute least, includes ~4,000 children), ~26,000 Afghan civilians, ~200 children in drone strikes, and ~6,000 American troops. Do the serious people in Washington want Trump to get out of the way so that they can bring in Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai to ask the other Republican candidates if these 180,000+ deaths unconnected to 9/11 were all just the cost of ‘defending our freedom’? Do they want Trump to get out of the way so they can finally listen to the folks at The American Conservative magazine, who are bravely standing up to their fellow “conservatives” to say “enough is enough!” to the mass-produced, government-issued death that the previous two administrations have rained on Middle Eastern humans without apology? Doubtful.
So, in my book, we might as well have the Donald in the race, because he takes time away from his opponents, who are not only tremendously unserious about what America needs right now, but — worse off — are treated too tenderly by a Beltway press that takes them too seriously.
Who then is a serious person in politics right now? I have some ideas about who that might be in the short term (see: Lessig, Lawrence; Sanders, Bernie; Webb, Jim). In the long term, though, it’s the same answer it has always been: YOU. As a hopeful candidate in 2008 once said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” This today is as true as ever.
Grip your trowels, hit the garden, and start planting, weeding and watering. Citizen action: there isn’t anything in politics more serious than that.