by Joan Vennochi · March 15, 2017
When it comes to battling Donald Trump, no ground is sacred.
I learned that at my mother’s funeral. Walking out of church, I stopped to hug a relative I seldom see and thank her for attending. As the casket was being lifted into the hearse, she segued to the subject she said she really wanted to talk about: the anti-Trump letter-writing campaign she had joined and the urgent need to declare the president mentally unfit.
What a surreal moment. For me, it captured the insanity of these times and the boundless — some might say, hapless — passion of the Trump resistance. My mom voted for Hillary last November and used the same word — “terrible” — to describe Trump and the travails of life after a series of falls that ultimately led to her death, at age 92. Yet if the question for the living is how best to end the era of our discontent, I wouldn’t recommend lobbying the bereaved.
I agree with fellow Globe columnist Alex Beam: Get used to Trump. He’s not about to self-deport out of the White House and, for now, impeachment is a liberal pipe dream. Meanwhile, he’s delivering on campaign promises his opponents find hateful. But until Trump backers come to hate Trump policies, the wailing from the other side is little more than Shakespeare’s sound and fury. Rather than signifying nothing, however, all that noise signifies something very specific to Trump backers: Trump Derangement Syndrome. And there’s some truth to it.
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Consider the flaky “Ides of March” campaign to inundate Trump with unfriendly mail. Does anyone really believe the king of mean tweets will be fazed by snarky postcards sent by voters who despised him from the start? Trump feeds off that kind of negative energy.
It will do nothing to undermine the Trump presidency. For that to happen, a Trump policy must actually hurt Trump voters — now, not in the future.
The immigration crackdown doesn’t hurt Trump’s base, unless somehow there’s a personal connection to someone affected by it. Trump’s commitment to deregulation will eventually have a trickle-down effect on health and safety, but not overnight. In the meantime, the industries freed from regulatory chains are ecstatic.
The firing of federal prosecutors won’t upset Trump backers, either. Political appointees don’t seem to get it, but everyone else does: The changing of the political guard means the guard changes. Pouncing on Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway is pure Beltway entertainment, with no serious downside for Trump. Remember: The ethics fuss over Conway’s promotion of Ivanka Trump merchandise resulted in booming sales for Ivanka Trump.
Note to Rachel Maddow: Tax returns showing Trump paid any taxes at all help Trump.
Trump’s links to Russia are not game-changers for Trump supporters either — not until Putin does something that hurts US interests in a way that is easily understood. The Ukraine is far away. Maybe a takeover of Space Mountain?
When it comes to causing measurable harm to Trump backers, the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act has real potential. According to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the GOP House replacement bill would cause 24 million Americans to lose health coverage over the next decade. According to the CBO report, poor people between 50 and 64 would be among the biggest losers, and many live in states that supported Trump. Yet, if mostly poor people lose coverage, a lot of nonpoor people won’t care at all. Because on the other side of the equation is a deficit reduction of $337 billion a year.
Trump prevails until his own backers turn on him. The resistance needs patience, discipline, and boundaries, or runs the risk of looking just as crazy as Trump.