Barring a miraculous intervention by a thus far absent deity, Donald Trump will be inaugurated next Friday. The focus of our attention needs to be on diminishing his ability to do harm. Trump has already done great damage to this country, for example by nominating the despicable racist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be Attorney General. The office of the President carries with it enormous power, and Trump will inherit that power in six days. But there are a number of ways in which his power can be circumscribed or limited. It might be useful to list some of them, simply to clear our minds and focus our efforts.
1. Far and away the greatest power we have is the ability of the already elected Democrats [and, on occasion, a sprinkling of Republicans] simply to block or derail actions that require Congressional approval. Our first effort, therefore, must be to bring all possible pressure to bear especially on the Democratic Senatorial caucus to stand firm. They must filibuster any Supreme Court nomination -- anyone whom Trump might conceivably put forward. The present 4-4 split is infinitely preferable to a return to a 5-4 right wing majority. We must aso stiffen our representatives' resolve to oppose the dismantling of the social safety net. I think if the Democrats stand absolutely united and force the Republicans to own all the damage they inflict, we may be able to block a good deal of it.
3. Second, by all available evidence, we have an energized left wing in America that is eager to find ways to oppose Trump. It is vital that this sentiment and energy be mobilized and channeled not only into protests but also into local support for candidates up and down the ballot. If the mobilization is sufficient, it will encourage viable candidates to decide to run for office. It is even conceivable that we could retake the House in 2018, which would completely alter the power balance in Washington.
3. Although none of us, I assume, is able to contribute directly to the ridiculing and delegitimizing of Trump in the public sphere, we can hope that these efforts continue, because, as I have suggested in this space, that ridiculing will make it much more difficult for Trump to actually use the vast and cumbersome Administrative bureaucracy to accomplish his ends [assuming he actually has any ends, other than cozying up to the Russians and making money for himself.]
4. What can each of us do today, this week, in the next month? Well, as you know, I shall be flying up to Washington for the Women's March the day after Inauguration. Few of us have the leisure and money for that sort of gesture, but there are satellite Women's Marches scheduled in many cities around the nation. Try to go to one of those, if you happen to live in one of the cities where a coordinated demonstration is planned. Choose an organization that speaks to your convictions and donate a bit, maybe only a few dollars on a monthly basis. If, like me, you have the habit of stopping in to Starbucks for coffee and a biscotti, forego one such treat a month and donate the $5 you save to a political organization. Write to or call your Senators and Representatives, urging them to act appropriately on whichever issue concerns you. Again and again, I read that several hundred calls to a DC office make a disproportionate impression on Senators and Representatives.
Most important, get into the habit of doing these things. We are at the very beginning of a long march. It will take countless steps, repeated endlessly, to get us there. A habit of small political actions is more effective than a single heroic gesture.