In times like these, what should we hope for?

I intend to continue my series on LDS doctrines we don’t believe anymore next week. But while researching those posts, my attention was yanked back to the present. You know that ancient Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times?” It’s not actually either ancient or Chinese–I believe it was invented by a British foreign minister, a typical piece of faux Orientalism–but it’s still potent enough. Our ‘interesting times’ include the impossible-to-wrap-our-heads-around fact that someone somehow elected a thin-skinned blustering whining lying infant as President of the United States.

His continued residence in the White House is, at best, an affront to civilized values, and at worst, apocalyptic, given his role as caretaker of America’s nuclear arsenal. (If you want to be good and terrified, may I suggest a recent article in the New Yorker, that details Trump’s friendship with billionaire Robert Mercer, who apparently believes that a thermo-nuclear holocaust would be survivable, possibly ecologically beneficial, and in any event, no big deal. I don’t seem to be able to link to it, but it shouldn’t be hard to find.) Anyway, I can’t help but think that nuking, I don’t know, maybe North Korea without sufficient cause would be bad for Trump’s re-election prospects. Is that what I should be hoping for? Obviously not.

This is the problem. What should we be hoping for here? We want Trump gone; does that mean we long for the Presidency of Mike Pence? We want Trump out; does that mean we want some catastrophe?

To illustrate, Ezra Klein has a good piece in today. He talks about the Republican health care bill that was supposed to come up for a vote today and didn’t. Let’s suppose that at some point Paul Ryan is able to get enough votes to send the bill to the Senate, where it also passes. Let’s further assume that the CBO scoring on that bill is reasonably accurate, and 24 million Americans lose their health insurance. Klein believes, with good reason, that the Republicans will be blamed for everything that goes wrong with health care in this country. If a hospital closes, it’ll be the fault of Republicare. If employers raise premiums on the health coverage they offer, it’ll be blamed on the Republicans in the House. There will wrenching, powerful stories about human suffering and needless deaths; all that will be considered the fault of this misguided bill. With justification.

You broke it, you buy it. Republicans will own health care in this country. Klein then makes some fairly reasonable assumptions. 2018, Democrats take back the House. The Senate math is tough for Democrats in 2018; it may not be possible to impeach Trump. But any reasonable challenger in 2020 should take back the White House. And then we’ll see a Democratic health care bill that fixes all the problems with Obamacare, and pays for it with a tax increase on rich folks. And that is not the outcome Republicans want.

But for all that to happen requires the Ryan bill to fail to deliver even adequate health coverage for a lot of Americans. It increases human suffering. And people will die. Klein estimates that the AHCA, if it fails as badly as the CBO estimates, will result in around 24,000 people dying younger than they should.

So is it worth 24,000 needless deaths to get rid of Trump?

That’s my conundrum. If Trump fails as President, there will be real life consequences. Politics is important; policy is important. Bad policies can lead to serious problems. Lives could be ruined. People could die. Is that what we want?

If Trump fails, it will be bad for America. I’m a patriot; I love my country. Do I want Trump’s failed policies to harm America?

That’s why this Russia stuff is so intriguing. If the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the results of this election, that would be bad. It would constitute treason. And we absolutely have to find out if that’s true. There’s no shoving this under the carpet; we need to know. Well, that’s tantamount to treason; that would be really bad. And maybe people need to go to jail. That would be fine. But it’s in the past; any damage done has already happened.

In the final analysis, I suppose I want President Trump to succeed, because I want my country to do well. But since there’s essentially no possibility of Trump actually being a good President, given his temperment and policies, then I want his failures to not hurt too many people. And realistically, that’s probably too much to ask.


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