The Trumpian Ego


by Nick Taylor

The shock is wearing off as the implications of President-elect Trump beyond his crassness and bigotry and sexism begin to sink in. Already we hear that his threat to prosecute Hillary over the security failings of her private email server while secretary of state was essentially “just politics.”  And his statement calling for a ban on all Muslim immigration disappeared from his website. (It was later restored.) Maybe soon we’ll hear a lot less about a wall.

The one thing we know for certain about Trump is that he essentially believes in nothing beyond the satisfaction of his ego. I find this encouraging.

He won’t want to fail at the biggest job of his life. The early signs about his choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency aren’t good. But what if he can win more praise for moving aggressively to solve climate change than ignoring it, especially if that praise comes from people whose esteem he values? Isn’t it likely that that’s what he will do?

Trump is a Republican by convenience, not conviction. He defied the party establishment on major issues. He said Social Security and Medicare should be preserved unchanged. He defended funding for Planned Parenthood and said it does a lot of good. Unlike his vice president-elect, he doesn’t seem concerned that gay marriage and transgender rights are advancing. If Democrats do a better job of massaging his ego on their matters of agreement, it bodes well at least on certain issues.

We might not get a liberal Supreme Court justice out of Trump. But if a respected moderate appointee won him bouquets of praise from the broad middle of the political spectrum, would he go that route?

That probably means those of us who opposed Trump should resist reminding one and all that he was in fact the loser in this race. He won the electoral vote, a vestigial remnant from our founding designed to inject sober-minded responsible citizens between the people and demagogues who might inspire them to foolishness or worse. “A disaster for a democracy,” Trump called the electoral college after the 2012 election. Now it’s put him on the road to the White House.

His public statements so far have been gracious and appropriate, the words of a winner. Let’s not poke that fragile ego by harping on the news that more voters cast ballots for Hillary.

One thing is sure in the wake of this election, and it’s not a bad thing.  It’s a big wakeup call to both parties that half the people in the country are fed up with Washington, overrun with lobbyists that put the business and banking and technology and fossil fuel agenda into the ears of Congress. Citizens suffered in the terrible recession that started in 2008, and the people that caused that suffering went scot-free.

Companies paid fines, nothing more than one of the costs of doing business. Nobody went to jail. No executives in handcuffs were paraded in a perp walk to spend time behind bars. None of them lost their freedom or the comforts of home. Americans saw that and they made up their minds that it wasn’t fair, that both parties were to blame, and that something had to be done.

Trump is their vengeance. But maybe, just maybe, there’s hope in the idea that he’ll turn around Mario Cuomo’s phrase that you campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. If there’s flattery to be found in statehood and actually making government work, who knows, maybe the ugly prose of Trump’s campaign will be replaced, maybe not with poetry but at least the occasional rhyme..