There is no silver lining to Trump’s victory. We have to weave one of our own.

Pundits and ordinary citizens are seeking a silver lining to Trump’s election victory. The social psychologists tell us that such “situational optimism” is probably healthy. It promotes resilience, though it’s not particularly grounded in reality.

–Millions may lose their health insurance.
–Climate change deniers will play key roles in environmental policy.
–Senate Republicans will be rewarded for their procedural intransigence with a Supreme Court majority.
–Undocumented immigrants face greater cruelty and uncertainty.
–An ignorant isolationist with the appallingly resonant slogan “America first” now controls our nuclear arsenal, and will set diplomatic and military policy on NATO, Ukraine, the South China Sea, and Syria.
–A President of conspicuous grace and personal integrity will be replaced by a personally cruel, grifting demagogue.

Trump’s election has already and inflicted permanent damage on our country. There’s no getting away from that. But those of us who lost Tuesday can still build something from the wreckage. My latest Washington Post essay notes some concrete things we can do.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

7 thoughts on “There is no silver lining to Trump’s victory. We have to weave one of our own.”

  1. Trump supporters are the darndest people. A Facebook friend who has been liking Trump for more than a year is urging him to take prompt action on climate change. He is an ardent conservationist who is big on solar panels. Don't rule out the possibility of connecting with some of these folks. Reality is stranger than fiction.

    1. I noticed with surprise on some sites during discussion with some pretty hard-nosed Trump supporters that they "bracketed" climate change as a separate issue they were willing to risk, while liking (what I thought were) more racist aspects of his programs. The last few years have been disastrous for climate denial on the evidence front, with a run of warm years that blow away the "pause in global warming" deniers made so much of.

  2. The first test for civil disobedience will be the effort to finger and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Sheltering and aiding them may be criminalised. How many personal risks are you Americans prepared to take? Would you adopt a child, or enter into a marriage of convenience, or sign a false affidavit? I am a Brit living in Spain, thankfully escape these dilemmas, and will try not to judge. But resistance may prove costly.

  3. Gotta rethink the policy menu too. Frank Pasquale has a good post up at Balkinization on the political failure of the "Rube Goldberg neoliberal" ACA, compared to the simple and concrete benefits created by the New Deal. I know, I know, even the public option within the contraption was too far for Lieberman, and Medicare for all was impossible. Vermont has not managed to introduce single payer. But in planning for the future, KISS. The key NHS principle – medical care free at the point of delivery – has survived a whole string of Tory governments. The Bismarckian public health insurance schemes of Germany and France have been similarly robust. The common feature is that they are genuinely universal. Rich and poor, old and young, all eat from the iron rice bowl. It the rich are prepared to pay for boutique services, private rooms, and flowers, fine: but they still have to pay for the basic state package.

    1. There is no way to do health care reform in a way that is both simple and that appeases enough interest groups that you could get it through Congress. Like it or not, and I don't, the U.S. system has far, far more veto points than do European countries, especially Britain. U.S. Senators are practically independent agents unbeholden to their party. Doctors consistently score much higher in terms of public trust than politicians do, so any reform that angers the AMA will be drowned in a tsunami of letters of outrage to legislators, and there's no mechanism to keep those legislators on board.

      Also, it would be nice if we could retire all usage of the word "neoliberal." It no longer has any meaning beyond, "I'm a liberal and I dislike the policies espoused by this other liberal, so I'm going to compare him to Margaret Thatcher without understanding that the term meant different things on each side of the Atlantic."

Comments are closed.