Culture

Stephens: A conservative imagines the Trump presidency that might have been


Where would we be now if we had a truly politically incorrect president? Donald Trump is supposed to be politically incorrect, but, for the most part, he isn’t. He’s mainly just a jerk.

Jerkishness is often mistaken for political incorrectness, in the way that blind luck is easily mistaken for great skill. They’re fundamentally different. Political incorrectness is an expression of intellectual independence. Jerkishness is a personality defect. The former requires a sense of inner rectitude. The latter reveals an absence of inner boundaries.

Politically incorrect people are prepared to deviate from their own party, ideology or personal interest for the sake of a moral principle. Jerks are always in it for themselves alone.

Andrei Sakharov and Liu Xiaobo were politically incorrect: honest men in dishonest systems. Trump is a dishonest man in a country with an increasingly tenuous grip on the concept of honesty itself.

With this in mind, let’s imagine an alternative history for a (politically incorrect) Trump presidency.

January 2017: Shortly after his inauguration as president, Trump fulfills a campaign promise by releasing his full tax returns. In a statement, the president says he’s releasing them for two reasons.

“First of all, if our dishonest media ever gets a hold of them, and they will, they’ll lie about what’s in them! And second, they show just what’s wrong with our tax code. As a real estate developer, I make no apologies for taking advantage of every loophole. As president, I will close these crazy holes for the sake of the American people. #IAloneCanFixIt. #MAGA.”

February 2017: Infuriating movement conservatives, Trump resubmits 64-year-old Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, saying he wants to uphold the principle — denied to his predecessor — that a president has the right to nominate a candidate to fill a vacant judgeship at any point in his administration.

But he does so as part of a deal in which one of the court’s older conservative justices steps down from the bench in favor of Neil Gorsuch, 49. The subsequent retirement of Anthony Kennedy and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg mean the court regains its conservative majority, with three younger justices, by the end of Trump’s first term.

May 2018: In the face of a migration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump proposes a grand-immigration bargain with congressional Democrats: full funding for a border wall, in exchange for a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Later, he expands the proposal to a $2 trillion infrastructure bill with “Buy American” provisions, in exchange for expedited environmental reviews for federal projects and a repeal of the Jim Crow-era Davis-Bacon Act, which has long inflated the labor costs of public works.

July 2019: In a telephone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump makes no mention of the Biden family.

February 2020: Warning Americans that the novel coronavirus risks becoming the greatest global health emergency of the century, Trump tells Americans that we can beat this, and keep the economy strong, by adopting common-sense social-distancing measures: avoiding crowded public transportation, sports arenas, concerts and bars. Going further than …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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