“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”
-Jay Gould: 19th century American railroad tycoon
Donald Trump may or may not be many things, but it seems exceeding difficult to believe that he would have been ignorant of the shit storm he was walking into with his so-called ‘Muslim Ban’.
That Trump would immediately barrel forward with an initiative on such questionable legal and constitutional footing, with such widespread opposition, begs the question of just what his prerogative is.
Perhaps he really was unaware of the cause and effect of his actions, or, more likely, simply didn’t care. But this is not an offensive statement on the campaign trail. If Trump intends to govern on shaky legal footing in a way that overtly antagonizes people into the streets, then it really may well be The Gift of Trump.
When the Obama Administration was deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, or sending refugees back to the countries from which they fled in order to “send a message,” there was little, if any, coalesced public opposition.
When the W. Bush Administration was dismantling the Constitution and generally becoming synonymous with ‘war crimes,’ they enjoyed widespread political support from Republicans and much of the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.
Trump will likely receive no such political favor and, more importantly, will apparently receive no such apathy from the general public.
There is, however, a somewhat darker option. Perhaps Donald Trump learned something crucial from his predecessor.
The criticism that President Obama faced, especially from his most fanatic opponents, was largely centered on the accusations that he was a Kenyan Muslim communist. The effect that this had on ‘the left’ was fortification. To them, ‘Kenyan Muslim’ was code for “black,” and ‘communist’ was just an exaggerated description of Obama’s progressive policies. No matter how many times Obama abandoned ‘the left,’ any criticism would feel like a concession to the froth-at-the-mouth detractors.
And so, the Obama presidency, while a failure on progressive policies, was a rousing success to the corporate agenda — wars, further erosion of the Constitution, deeper inequality.
When Donald Trump, in the infancy of his presidency, announces such an antagonistic initiative, maybe he is doing more than just inflaming opposition. When this opposition appears almost ravenous, perhaps justifiably so, and goes immediately to hyperbole, calling Trump ‘Hitler’ and a fascist dictator, Trump may intend this to have the same effect on his supporters that ‘alt-right’ taunts had on Obama’s supporters.
It is an unpleasant thought; Trump’s supporters, fortified by ferocious opposition, giving him an unconditional pass for any act of debauchery he may desire.
But it is a precarious maneuver to attempt, especially in a time of mass-engagement and mobilization.
Should Trump continue to govern as he indicates he will with his ‘Muslim Ban,’ perhaps the ‘Trump Revolution’ may not quite be what his supporters thought it would be.
This piece was originally published on Medium.