Somewhat less entertaining than Pascal’s Wager, but infinitely more practical, when you get down to it.
Side note: Yes, I’ve been AWOL for a couple months, but the holidays pretty much crush the will to live right out of me these past few… decades, and there’s literally been so much to write about in the last month alone that I’d just thrown my hands up in despair at my inability to keep up with the tide of lunacy sweeping across the nation. I’ll try to do better going forward, though this Canutean dilemma will probably overwhelm me from time to time regardless.
The travel ban. I feel like I should make that into one word, “Travelban”, like it’s some sort of terrorist organization or something. Which, depending on your perspective, I suppose it is, since it’s spreading fear and uncertainty while destroying lives.
So there’s that, I guess.
Trump’s made a wager in this, and while it’s still something worth fighting, on the grounds of scaling back executive power if nothing else, please understand that it’s a pretty safe bet and you’re likely screwed no matter how it turns out.
If the courts ultimately uphold the Trump ban, Trump wins. He gets the ban, demonstrates that he has the power to take such actions, and thanks to the magical notion of “precedent”, which your average legal scholar and/or politician treats with much the same reverence as the Ark of the Covenant, he’ll have the ability to expand his power even further.
If the courts strike down the ban, but don’t expressly limit the power of the Presidency in regards to such matters, Trump can still win, because that’s where the real meat of the wager kicks in. At that point, all he needs is one incident. involving one person, from just one of those countries and he’s got the Democrats by the balls with a grip fit to crush walnuts.
The only condition where Trump loses is the one where only a few of us, those who would like to see the power of the Presidency curtailed, actually win, and that is unfortunately the least likely outcome. Because if the courts go that far, then they’ll be opening the door to an endless wave of challenges that will hamstring the President, not just Trump, for decades to come. And they don’t want that; they like the President having ridiculous amounts of power, they just don’t like it when he’s not one of theirs.
Incidentally, and this is only tangentially related, if you’re suddenly up in arms about Trump’s executive actions, where were you when Obama deported even more people than Dubya, eclipsing the sum total of people deported in the entire previous century before those two took office? Why are you upset now, but not when Obama enacted visa restrictions on people coming from, surprise surprise, the exact same countries in Trump’s travel ban? Or when he straight up had an American citizen killed in a drone strike. And then killed the man’s 16 year old son in yet another botched drone assassination two weeks later. If this shit only bothers you when it’s the other side doing it, you are part of the problem.
Note to self: Finish rambling screed about hypocrisy in the coming weeks in order to achieve some small measure of catharsis.
But back to the point.
Trump’s Wager is a shockingly safe bet. And it’s one that the opposition cannot help but take, because refusal to accept it means that Trump wins by default. I’d credit the man with a degree of canniness, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure he’s not just bumbling through the whole process like a toupee’d bull in a china shop.
Because the odds aren’t horrible that, in the next four years, someone from one of those seven countries is going to do something stupid in the United States. The much-derided (and deservedly so) “Bowling Green Massacre” was an attempted, and foiled, terrorist plot concocted by a pair of Iraqi refugees, and did result in Obama enacting visa processing restrictions that functionally amounted to a nearly six month ban on such individuals entering the United States. The fact that the would-be Bowling Green terrorists appeared to be trying to ship weapons and funds back to Iraq wouldn’t really matter for Trump’s hypothetical terrorists following in their footsteps; just about any sort of incident will do.
It doesn’t even have to be “proper” terrorism. Something along the lines of the New Year’s Eve mass sexual assaults in Germany could easily be turned to his advantage. And once an event happens, and “the Democrats” struck down his travel ban…
Good lord, the political dividends he will reap. Win or lose period, he strengthens his hold on his base. After all, he’s been enacting the policies that he said he would, following through on campaign promises (distasteful though they may be) at a rate equaled by few other Presidents, and he’s just getting started. If the Democrats throw roadblocks in his way, obstruct his policies and hamstring his initiatives, well, that’s not his fault now is it?
I mean, it worked for the Tea Party.
But an incident involving anyone from one of those countries, even if they were already here before the ban, gives him a blunt object with which to hammer the Democrats in the court of public opinion, and you can rest assured it’s a weapon he will use with great gusto.
The worst part of it, for the opposition at least, is that thanks in part to the rhetoric of Trump, and largely to the rhetoric of the right wing media over the last few decades, and in no small part due to a series of ridiculously stupid blunders by networks like MSNBC, Trump is shockingly resistant to bad press. The established narrative is, of course, that the press is in the pocket of The Left and as such they’re Trump’s opponents by default; anything they say or do to deride him or his policies is just leftist propaganda, the media slavishly following the will of their shadowy liberal elite overlords.
Trump has actually maneuvered his opponents into more than one no-win situation over the last year, which is part of why the man confuses me, because I’m fairly certain that it happens entirely by accident but… Maybe not. Maybe he’s just playing the part of a jowly orange buffoon with the emotional development of a four year old solipsist, and in reality he’s just a cynical manipulative monster bent on personal gain at the expense of the nation.
Time will tell, I suppose. Assuming we survive.