No doubt, we live in interesting times

Have you noticed since the results of the Nov. 8 election, we have experienced shifting paradigms?

  • Tuesday, December 27, 2016 11:18am
  • Opinion

Have you noticed that since the results of the Nov. 8 election, we have experienced suddenly shifting paradigms? All of a sudden what was the norm has become passé and obsolete. New ways of perceiving reality have forced themselves upon our thinking. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air about what changes will be coming to this nation and to the world after Jan. 20 and the inauguration of a new president.

From an article called “The Age of Post-Truth Politics,” author William Davies writes: “The sense is widespread: We live in an age of post-truth politics.” Even facts once accepted as non-arguable are now up for debate. Truth, for some, has become what a person feels and perceives to be true, not what really is factual.

Whereas in previous presidential inaugurations there were five major groups coming to demonstrate in Washington D.C., now there will be 20. Many Democrats are frightened that their rights and the rights of immigrants will be taken away and millions will be deported. American Muslims find themselves dealing with uncertainty, wondering whether they will be forced to sign a registry because of their religious beliefs. The future of Social Security and Medicare as we know it may change, bringing even more insecurity.

For the 47 percent who voted for Donald Trump, this change that is brewing is good. The federal government has been in gridlock and America is no longer great. We have to regain our status in the world. We need to take care of ourselves before we deal with the rest of the world.

Have you read about the Chinese reaction to Donald Trump’s 10-minute phone conversation with the new Taiwanese president and his subsequent tweet? It is hard to believe that 140 characters in a tweet can upset long-standing accepted norms of behavior going back to the 1970s with the Chinese over the status of Taiwan.

Trump’s argument has some merit; since President Nixon we have officially accepted the fiction that Taiwan is part of China and not a fully functioning and independent democracy. We sell billions of dollars of weapons to a nation that does not officially exist.

Trump’s view is that every interaction within government and with other nations is the beginning of a negotiation. We must then expect hard, strong statements to be his first position. He has shaken up his opposition as planned.

There is a law in physics that every action creates an opposite and equal reaction. If applied to American politics, expect the next two years to be tumultuous. Expect battles with left-wing demonstrators protesting Trump’s positions and decisions and counter-demonstrations from Trump supporters. Expect a Republican Congress to push back against a strong-willed president.

Be prepared for an extremely acrimonious fight over the appointment of the ninth Supreme Court justice to replace the late Justice Scalia. It requires 60 votes to end a filibuster in the Senate over a Supreme Court appointment. The Republicans only have 52 votes.

That means another law of physics will come into play that I was taught by a doctor after I broke my nose as a 12-year old: “When an immoveable object comes in contact with an irresistible force, something’s got to give.” Either we will spend the next two years – at least– with eight or fewer justices, or there will have to be some compromise, or the Republicans will use the nuclear option and get rid of the filibuster. I am betting on Republicans using the “nuclear option” to change the requirement to a bare majority to appoint the next chief justice.

Ronald Reagan, when he first became president, came on strong. One of his first acts was to fire all the striking air traffic controllers. I expect something as startling to occur in the early months of 2017. It could be on the national level or with foreign affairs or both.

Where we end up during the next few years will not be where we are now. That much is certain. Hold onto your hats, changes have only just begun. One person or a small group with a strong enough will can and will alter our nation. That has always been the lesson of history, which we will see repeated in our lifetimes.

There is an ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” There is no doubt that we do.

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