A significant portion of my midlife will be lived under a Donald Trump presidency.
Given that reality, I have advice for congressional Democrats: Take a page from Seinfeld’s George Costanza playbook, and “Do the Opposite.” See how it worked for George, like it can work for Democrats, here.
Democrats understandably will feel compelled to fight Trump and the Republican ruling class, and even though they don’t have the numbers, attempt to obstruct, as the GOP strategically did to Obama. Don’t do it. Resist the urge. Be compliant. Be like rubber.
Learn from these insightful, introspective reflections from George Costanza:
“It’s just not working.”
“Every instinct I have…it’s all been wrong.”
“Bald men with no jobs and no money who live with their parents don’t approach strange women.”
Democrats are now the bald men with no jobs and no money who live with their parents. So let the Republicans have their day…or four years. They’re expecting you to fight, posture, contest, provoke, make noise, level charges, hurl criticism, erect barriers, whine and complain. Don’t. Do the opposite.
Sure, try to do some nibbling around the edges of the Republican agenda, budget and bills, where maybe they’ll accept a stray amendment to shut you up. But otherwise, be the matador, and let the bull charge through your cape.
Let the Republican agenda unfold, whole and unfettered and unadulterated and without significant compromise. It’s the only way America will discover whether the GOP is imbued with brilliance or folly, whether Republicans have been blowhards full of hot air and empty rhetoric or they’re really onto something prescient, whether they’re firmly grounded or living in an alternate reality, whether they distinguish fact from fiction.
We have a baseline and trend lines to start with. Memorialize those. Let the GOP agenda play out over four years. Ensure nonpartisan experts analyze and document the results and make projections on future course. Four years should be enough time to indicate clear trends, if not definitive outcomes.
Only then will we know more conclusively whether the nation has suffered or gained, and who has done the suffering or gaining. Will people be hurt in the process? Possibly, but it will be the only way to know.
What will have happened to health care costs, health care accessibility and the ranks of the uninsured?
Will millions of manufacturing jobs have been created, or “brought back?”
What will the economic indicators show?
What will be America’s status in global trade and what will it mean to industry and the economy?
Will America be viewed internationally as a treasured ally or as an isolationist with a case of the heebie-jeebies?
Will ISIS still be living strong or dead?
What will have happened to families that include an illegal immigrant?
Will there be a Mexico-U.S. wall, and if so, at what cost and benefit?
Will America be more united or more divided?
Will the swamp be draining or flooding?
Will those screaming for change be better or worse off?
Will Americans perceive the country on the “right” or “wrong” track.
Will America be relying more heavily again on coal or “clean energy,” and what will be the effects of either path?
Will inner cities be revived? How will African-Americans in those areas answer Trump’s question: “What have you got to lose?”
We can then examine the evidence and facts (if indeed, either still have any currency), and know with a high degree of certainty where credit or blame lies. Then America will have a chance to make another judgment in a more transparent, less muddled environment on Trump and the GOP’s ideas and execution, out in the open, naked, with nowhere to hide and no Obama or Hillary to scapegoat.
It worked for George Costanza. It was unpredictable, confounding, paradoxically brilliant. Doing the same thing never worked for George. But doing the opposite…Anything could happen.