By Peter Fenn | Opinion Contributor USNews & World Report
Jan. 30, 2017, at 4:35 p.m.
Anyone who expected Donald Trump, or the likes of White House strategist Steve Bannon, to conduct a government that was reasoned, deliberate, thoughtful, fact-based, collaborative or even somewhat rational or professional should have had their heads examined.
For those who felt that it was time to “blow up” our government, discard the advice and counsel of those with expertise and experience and issue dictatorial declarations from day one, they have their man. And for those who thought campaign rhetoric was just another way to vent anger and frustration but would not result in devastating policy to match the blowhard candidate, you were hopelessly naive and voted to install someone who is going to do what he said, and more.
The main tactic of the Bannon-Trump administration is to flood the zone with one action after another without vetting, without serious explanation, without consulting Congress or even those within their own administration. They then follow up these executive declarations with tweets and invective directed against one perceived enemy after another. The desire to create chaos, regardless of the consequences, follows on from the writings of Bannon and the speeches of Trump.
The theory is simple: Flood the zone. Put so much out there, so fast, that all the press and the public can do is react as one outrage after another sucks the oxygen out of the room. So, as the furor builds over the ban from seven Muslim countries, they announce that a Supreme Court appointment will be unveiled earlier than planned on Tuesday. This all resembles a cynical magic trick, where our eyes are kept shifting to the next shiny object.
As Republicans become concerned with one policy and begin to coalesce around alternatives, the Bannon-Trump administration changes the subject. The Republicans will now have a nominee to the Supreme Court to focus on, with likely unanimity. Some will breathe a sigh of relief that they aren’t being asked by the press about the previous outrageous actions – silliness over ego-driven inauguration crowd estimates or spending hundreds of billions we don’t have on a wall we don’t need or Bannon’s takeover of the critical National Security Council or the horrendous immigrant and refugee ban or any of the other executive orders that weren’t vetted or discussed outside the Eagle’s Nest.
Inside the Eagle’s Nest, they are counting on this disruption to further their “alternative facts” and put the press in the position of creating much sound and fury that they say signifies nothing. They will use the demonstrations and the marches to isolate vast numbers of Americans in opposition to “making America great again.”
Trump’s inaugural address indicates that his presidency will be just like his campaign.
The worst thing we can do is play their game – lose focus and allow them to move on to the next atrocity. Or, for that matter, overly engage in the silly tweets that are emblematic of Trump’s outrageous narcissism. We must build our case and our own movement against his policies, engage experts and lawyers, go to court, go to the media (mainstream and social), continue protests, contribute money, volunteer on the front lines, convince those who may have voted for Trump and Republicans now in elective office that our fundamental values, and even our country, hang in the balance.
In short, we must flood the zone ourselves. We must not lay back and assume that someone else will step forward, that traditional means of waiting two years until the next election will suffice, that we are in normal times. And let’s be clear, we need a growing consensus among the vast majority of Americans and a large coalition of Republicans that what is taking place must be stopped – now. If Trump cannot be convinced to alter his policies, his behavior and his method of governing, removal from office should be considered. At the very least, his policies need to be blocked and investigations conducted into his actions. This is not about Democrat vs. Republican, this is about taking our patriotic duty as seriously as ever.
What we are facing with this administration has real and sustained and, possibly cataclysmic, impact. Whether we are talking about fundamental civil rights and civil liberties, voting rights, destroying our health care system, dismantling environmental protections, upending international alliances or undermining human rights around the world, Bannon-Trump is not playing around the edges. And neither should we.