To my liberal friends:
I know you’re disappointed as this week draws to a close. You not only didn’t want Donald Trump to win the election, you hadn’t seriously considered the possibility he might. I know exactly how you feel, having felt it four years ago and eight years ago (minus the delusion about the other side having zero chance of winning). And now you’re recoiling at seeing this:
Yet, a new era can be a time for turning over new leaves, and you have just such an opportunity now. Certain things you’re feeling are no doubt strange — maybe distantly reminiscent, as if you just might have felt them prior to Nov. 4, 2008 — but I encourage you to indulge a few of them to the fullest. (No, not that one. Put down your “Trump = Hitler” sign. Put it down!)
- Skepticism of executive power: You’re imagining President Trump (sorry: trigger warning! — did I do that right?) signing all manner of executive orders about immigration, financial regulations, environmental policy, and it makes you want to ask: What gives him the right? Can he really do that? What does the Constitution say? Welcome to the club! Some of us have been asking that for almost eight years, a few of us even longer. The short answer is: He might not be able to do that, except to the extent he’s rescinding a previous executive’s orders. (I realize this might not leave you with much to hang onto from the past several years. Sorry …)
- Limits on federal power: You may find yourself asking what gives Trump the right to tell cities they can’t be sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. What happened to federalism? Shouldn’t more decisions be left to state and local governments? Yes, yes they should. Let’s talk more about that sometime, maybe over a picnic lunch next to that dry creek bed on your uncle’s farm which the current administration declared a “waterway” subject to federal oversight.
- Protecting the loyal opposition via the filibuster: I realize eight years (Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2015) is a long time to be totally against a parliamentary procedure as an affront to the wisdom of the Founders (whose views should totally not be considered when judges interpret the Constitution, natch) and the end of self-government as we know it — only to turn around and defend it to the death now. But hey, at least you got it right in the end! It is true that the Senate doesn’t need to act like the simple majoritarian body the House does. That said, don’t be surprised to see some of your own, ahem, innovations concerning the filibuster ca. 2007-2015 being put to use in the near future.
I could go on, but those few newly fervent beliefs are a good start. Repeat these things over and over: Checks and balances … a limited central government … gridlock is good. If you forget any of them, wander on over the conservative side, where you’ll hear some of us repeating them, too.
Just make sure you commit them to more than short-term memory.