Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Consequences of Trump’s Victory Are All About Probability

             We elected a random policy generator president.
            Sure, it may seem to many of us that president-elect Trump has been intentionally ambiguous about many of his policies, in order to keep his foreign and domestic rivals guessing, so he can stay one step ahead of them. Others among us may believe that he is simply the ultimate flip-flopper, and that he only changes his views when it is politically expedient, and necessary to gain support.
Still others believe that he is genuinely indecisive, and that he lacks knowledge about many policy topics. Perhaps he is like many young people today; maybe he stopped taking things seriously a long time ago, so much so that now, he can't even tell when he's being sarcastic, and so he paints himself into a corner until he has no choice but to double-down on his often outrageous and dubious assertions. And maybe the fact that he repeatedly gets away with it, is the fault of a Fourth Estate that keeps giving him 72 hours to change his mind before he gives an interview that’s to be taken as his final say on the matter.
But one thing seems certain: Donald J. Trump is a walking illustration of particle physicist Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle; the less you know about his position, the more you know about his momentum, and vice-versa. As a comment on a political spectrum meme recently explained, “Trump is too high-energy and all-over-the-place to stay in one quadrant”. Politically speaking, Trump is an unpredictable particle; God only knows where he is going, but he is going there fast.

The meme

Another similar meme
After all, this is a man who simultaneously campaigned on the promises of achieving "universal health care" while also "getting rid of" the state lines that inhibit the freedom of interstate commerce in health insurance purchase. Therefore it should come as no surprise that he has backed off from his pledge to repeal the deceptively-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, vowing to keep in place the part of the law which requires plans and issuers that offer dependent child coverage to cover young adults until they turn 26 and qualify for open enrollment.
So too is he the man who, during his campaign, described himself as "100% pro-life", even going so far as to consider the possibility that women could be punished in the event that abortion were to be outlawed; whereas 17 years ago he told Tim Russert that he described himself as “very pro-choice” and “strongly for choice”, adding that he hates the concept of abortion, but did not wish to ban the arguably infanticidal procedure known as partial-birth abortion which he now supposedly wants outlawed. Recently, Trump has stated that Roe v. Wade can be overturned, and that he intends to nominate Supreme Court justices who would seek to do so.
Not only that; Trump has backed off of his pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to the Hillary Clinton e-mail case, and ensure that she go to prison. What’s more, he has also backed down from his promise to overturn the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges - in which the Supreme Court ruled that states be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and recognize same-sex marriages which are valid in other states – calling it “settled law”, and adding that he’s “fine” with gay marriage.
But we’re not finished: since early 2016, some have speculated that Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border will not be a physical one, but merely a “symbolic” wall; among them Trump foreign policy and terrorism adviser Walid Phares, who in September told Paris-based news channel France24, “Trump’s wall is only symbolic, and the candidate only launched this extreme policy proposal to raise attention.”
This came the month after Trump asked an audience in Austin, Texas whether undocumented immigrants with otherwise clean criminal records, who have lived in the United States for several decades, should be deported. The spontaneous crowd-sourcing poll, which he conducted eight times in a row (in order to get a clear answer) revealed that that audience slightly favored allowing them to stay, but did not favor allowing them to become U.S. citizens. That night, Trump said he agreed with a man in the audience who favored deportation, adding “We’re going to come out with a decision very soon.”
Additionally, Trump’s support of the Fourth-Amendment-ignoring proposed “No Fly, No Buy” legislation (although he acknowledges that some people on no-fly lists and terror watch lists do not belong there), seems somewhat at-odds with his support for expanding the legality of concealed-carry permits.
Trump’s apparent inconsistency on abortion, Obamacare, same-sex marriage, deportation and the wall, and gun control, demonstrate a stark contrast to the principle behind his stated position on the taxation of businesses; that is, the principle of providing the kind of certainty that leads to safe and stable investments in domestic employment. On the other hand, these so-called “positions” seem to fit his foreign policy theme of intentional ambiguity.
So what are we to make of a president-elect who wants to privatize public infrastructure, and outlaw flag burning, while also keeping gay marriage legal and promising to turn the Republican Conference into a “workers’ party”? Is Trump indecisive, is he a moderate, or is he a shrewd negotiator determined not to let anyone read his poker face?
Perhaps he is simply Door Number Three from the game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. Maybe he is a pretty pink box covered with question marks, sitting on the desk of “Simpsons” billionaire C. Montgomery Burns, for which his supporters are willing to trade away not only Door Number One and Door Number Two, but also the freedom to make a decisive, informed choice between them.

"The box, the box!"

Speculation abounds regarding whether Trump’s difficulty getting along with the Republican and Democratic establishments will hinder his ability to get his policy objectives through. So too are many asking whether his supporters will let him get away with betraying them on the issues of health, abortion, marriage, immigration, and guns, if that is indeed what he even intends to do.
Donald’s Trump’s indecision and doubling-down – coupled with his disagreements with his often unruly supporters, and the division which his Austin audience revealed in August – demonstrate that he is a Schrödinger’s Candidate; that he has let the cat out of Pandora’s Bag, but is having trouble putting it back into the tube of toothpaste.
On the other hand, maybe Trump is the cesium atom, the American public is the cat, and we’re in a quantum superposition of states until Inauguration Day. Maybe we’re in the midst of a transition period, in which America – in a demonstration of faith, through a single capricious vote – has already been made the Great-Again which it never wasn’t, but we also just experienced the worst thing that has happened to this country since 9/11. And what are the odds that that is true? As a wise man once said, “Don’t ever tell me the odds.”
So the questions remains: “Random number generators have won wars, but can a random policy generator fix a broken country? Will Donald Trump, the Human Wonder-Waffle, unite what is arguably the most divided electorate this country has ever seen? Will he manage to forge even a tentative alliance with the quasi-nihilistic so-called ‘moderates’ of each major party’s establishment?” In this writer’s opinion, we find our answer in what yet another wise man once said: “Sticking together is what good waffles do.”

Two patriotic Americans of opposing political parties
break bread in a symbolic gesture of cooperation


            Readers interested in exploring this topic further may wish to look up the definition of the word "demarchy"; or visit this page, featuring an article about Trump's relationship to the aether):

Originally Written and Published on November 16th, 2016

Edited on November 17th, 2016

Addendum Written on January 19th, 2017

Expanded (second political spectrum added) on June 28th, 2018

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