Donald J. Trump has been known to describe himself as a “common sense politician,” as opposed to a traditional partisan ideologue. He is not wrong. He is now a walking and talking embodiment of the empirical impossibility of introducing common sense to the dysfunctional cesspool of Washington. 100 days in, I’ve seen enough to know I’m witnessing a controlled political experiment that will illustrate our worst fears as traditional republicans in a two-party system. A place where common sense is exceedingly uncommon, where results are as rare as a lunar eclipse and happen under similar lighting conditions.
President Trump is not a contradiction, it just looks that way to those immersed in the beltway scene. I recently spent an hour a few feet from the man as he gave a furious and surgically strategic speech to a capacity crowd in deep blue Harrisburg, PA. Shoulder to shoulder with the masses, I joined the fray in expressing my outrage towards a rogue and irresponsible media. I joined in the somewhat good-natured cat calls towards the congressmen present for the lack of resolute and actionable results. For a few shining moments we all once again embraced the promise, the tantalizing precept that a common sense, deal maker could usher in a new era of American prosperity. Then, with tragic and swift speed, that precept was challenged yet again by the news of another six month budget extension. Ostensibly, it appears an even-handed deal sparing both parties the political suicide of embracing a government shutdown. Deeper, though, we see the hallmarks of classic beltway capitulation…common sense meeting the immovable object.
The president didn’t pick this team. He didn’t draft them or sign them as free agents. He didn’t pick the coaches and he can only make strong suggestions as to the game plan he wants to deploy. His “team” is named Congress, and they’re pretty much the Cleveland Browns in the world of politics. Nonetheless, the president must own this team and find a way to win. Only this metaphor fails to reveal the deep divisions of power that cloud our current political landscape. Trump can’t unilaterally replace Speaker Ryan. It doesn’t work that way (but that doesn’t stop me from internally visualizing the act on a daily basis as a part of my meditation exercises). After all, even if you want to fire a head coach, make sure your GM isn’t his best friend from back home. Continue reading “The Great Experiment: Making Sense Common Again”