Winter Sunlight

oh ... no

I had a realization today about the POTUS. It's kind of awful -- maybe not the worst kind of awful, more like MASSIVE FACEPALM awful, but it explains so much. And it means the last week's trash fire of executive orders is not going to stop. It's just going to keep going on until he manages to horrify enough people to get impeached, basically.

I had this hit me while I was reading about the H-1b visa program, which is widely used in the tech industry to gain skilled employees for computers, engineering, etc. Apparently the next executive order coming along is rumored to be an order either eliminating or severely restricting this. I literally could not figure out a single reason why an executive order would target it. The refugee ban was cruel, inhumane, and bigoted, but it plays specifically to certain elements in his core base. This one, though ... it's not going to ~stop terrorists~. What the f*** is it for? To punish California? To retaliate against tech companies who have started criticizing him? Because enough of his base hates foreigners that they just want "less foreigners" and don't even care if they're from countries like Norway and Ireland?

Those things may be true (and how scary and depressing is it that it's now entirely plausible we now have a president who will pass executive actions targeted specifically at punishing individual businesses for criticizing him, BECAUSE WE TOTALLY DO). However, apparently there has been talk of overhauling the H-1b program for years. Some industries don't like it because (they say) it encourages companies to reduce costs by bringing in overseas workers who can be paid less while they fire and replace American workers with higher salaries. Some advocates want stronger protections for Americans. Don't get me wrong, it's still isolationist/protectionist, but it's a version of it that's nothing new; labor unions ask for stuff like that ALL THE TIME.

And if it were implemented in a sensible way (via legislation that was thoroughly discussed and carefully drafted, with protections for existing workers under the old visa program) it could end up being able to keep the best of both -- bringing in new talent without causing people to lose their jobs.

However, based on the last week, if something like this does come along, I THINK WE ALL KNOW THAT'S NOT WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN.

And the sheer cognitive disconnect between "overhaul immigration rules" (not an unreasonable thing for a country to do) vs "issue an executive order banning certain kinds of visas" (???) made me have this thought:

I think he thinks being President is like being CEO of a company. You give people orders and they do them. If your company has a problem, e.g. the profits in one area are low? You come up with a solution, give them orders, and they're supposed to obey those orders or get fired.

(I should note: this is being a shitty CEO. But we already knew that's the kind he is.)

BUT THAT'S NOT HOW A FUCKING DEMOCRACY WORKS.

If your problem is that the US immigration system needs overhaul, which it very well might, the democratic solution is to draft some bills, and debate those bills, and send those bills back to committee, and compromise on those bills, and eventually end up with a new law that incorporates some kind of consensus arrangement between all the people who worked on it. It takes years and everyone has ample warning of what's coming because most of those drafts have to be posted publicly, the media talks about it, and so forth.

The You-Know-Who solution is to pass an executive order commanding it. Because he thinks that's what a president does. And because he's HIM, it's going to be a poorly thought-out, vaguely worded bill that was scribbled up in the dead of the night without ever talking to any of the people who run any of the agencies that would be affected by it.

That's the kind of boss he was! I think we can all see why his businesses kept failing!

The executive order is supposed to be an emergency action to allow the president to bypass the usual lawmaking system IN EMERGENCIES, because sometimes there are situations where you can't wait for something to work its way through a committee. Presidents have increasingly abused it over the years to get away with congressionally unpopular actions. But if I'm right, executive orders are going to be how he addresses every problem anyone puts in front of him, no matter what it is. Immigration? Crime? High deficit? Failing industry that he wants to keep around? Successful industry that he wants to get rid of? Want to drill more oil? EXECUTIVE ORDER.

It's also quite possibly one reason why he's putting unqualified people, even people actively opposed to an agency's goals, in charge of any agency he doesn't like. Because THAT'S WHAT YOU DO when you are a (shitty) boss and you want to get rid of one branch of your company but don't want to admit that's what you're doing. You put someone in charge that you want to get away from the profitable areas of your company, or someone who's known for a slash-and-burn management style, or whatever. Then you're in a win-win situation, because if against all odds that division actually succeeds, then it's turning a profit again, and if (more likely) it implodes under crappy management, then you can point to it as a total trash fire (which you created) and if you THEN eliminate it and fire all those people, it's not going to create the hard feelings that it would if you got rid of a part of the company that's only sort of unprofitable and/or that you don't want to keep around because you don't agree with their mission statement anymore.

So, on the one hand, this is terrifying, but on the other hand, I think this is VASTLY more likely than most of the even more terrifying conspiracy theories that have been flying around. I don't think he is staging an intentional coup (although that's kind of the effect). He is currently drunk on power, running the country the way he thinks a person runs a country by issuing an executive order to address every problem he sees, and firing and/or eliminating any person or department he thinks isn't pulling their weight.

The short-term effect is "dictatorship in the making". But it means there IS no long-term plan. There is no chessmaster at the helm. If this is what's going on -- and it fits all the evidence -- I really don't think he or anyone around him is smart enough to consolidate power in a way that will allow them to hold onto it. And you can't eliminate HUD or the EPA or the Department of Education by making them suck at their jobs -- I mean, maybe long-term you could (like over 20 years) but we're dealing with someone who barely thinks 5 minutes into the future; all you can accomplish on that kind of time scale is to create a snarl of bureaucratic horror and leave a huge mess for the next person to clean up.

So basically I think we're going to see the blizzard of executive orders continue not because the administration is trying to snow us under and exhaust us (they're nowhere near that smart), but because that's how he thinks a country is supposed to be run. And because he has no long-term plan and no idea he's doing anything he's not supposed to be doing, it's going to go on until he manages to piss off enough people (which is happening at an astonishing rate) that the Republicans abandon him en masse and he either gets booted or pulls a Nixon and flee under a cloud of scandal.

So far he's angering the public WAY faster than he's angering Congress, which makes it depressingly likely that it's going to take months to start hammering through their skulls that this is a mess that's going to destroy their party and possibly their country if they don't do something about it. But look how many people he's managed to alienate already. Nixon lasted 2 years post-Watergate. At this rate, Trump's presidency is probably only going to last months if he keeps it up. He's going to leave the country in an awful mess when he goes, and a lot of people are going to suffer (people are already suffering under the refugee/country-of-origin ban) but I'm actually feeling weirdly optimistic about not ending up with a Trump dynasty out of all of this. If we can only manage to get Congress to WAKE UP before he starts any wars.


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Oooh! Thank you for that insight. It rings true. The problem is: if he gets impeached who becomes president? Pence, right?
Also: he might not intend to create a dictatorship but I AM sure there are smarter people around him who know how to play the game and work toward that goal or themselves into the right positions. And THAT worries me.
In between A LOT of people will be hurt by those orders and I could just cry.
Oooh, you know, that makes TONS of sense!! (Well, you know, as much "sense" as can ever be applied to ANYthing about the Orange One! *You* make sense, but he hasn't learned that trait yet. *insert massive eye rolls*)

I agree that I don't think they're coordinated enough to actually pull off anything all that detailed. Putin *might*, but even then, I think Putin is just a more controlled version of Trump in a lot of ways. More truly evil in some ways, versus Trump just being so insanely clueless and so narcissistic that he's just *sure* he's right, no matter what the topic is, and ending up being evil almost by accident :-)

GEEEEEZ. There's a reason that "may you live in interesting times" is a curse, and dayum, but we're living with proof!! :-P

(Also, could I quote you to some friends? Not spread your post all over public everything, but just to people I know and trust? B/c I really do think you're on to something with him/them!)
Thanks for the thoughtful analysis. I can see him thinking he's the boss of America.
Yeah, I was thinking something similar (Trump running his country like a CEO). Though it does not hold up because he has masses of advisers who will have told him that there will be opposition (e.g. from the judiciary) and he did it anyway. Because he does not really care whether or not it actually keeps foreigners out. All he wants is to be seen to panter to his electorate. To be 'see' getting things done and being powerful. He trusts that by tomorrow there will be 20 more news stories to replace this one, and many of voters won't actually follow-up on whether or not the ban actually sticks.

It's panem et circenses all over again.
I hope you're right. I hope he gets impeached or whatever it takes to remove him (short of assassination, I don't condone that). Though who will replace him? That must be a worry too. *hugs*
(Anonymous)
i enjoyed your comparison of trump = poor business owner.
consider, though: this company comes with a back up boss who is not only much less (visibly) crazy, but an assh*le who is so extremely right wing, many of his supporters publicly booed him on his own home state.
upside? this company is strong enough that even it's leaders can't ruin it.
down side? this company is so strong, it takes MORE than one idiot to really fu*k things up!

~robingal1 (from cellphone which can't log in)
Yeah, I've heard a couple other people with similar versions of this theory. Someone said that a lot of what Tump is doing – replacing many jobs for no better reason than they were hired by his predecessor, pushing through many changes very quickly, focusing on PR and the number of viewers and media reception – are all in fact very common strategies in hostile business takeovers. Which is... a pretty terrible way to be President, but as you say, it's a lot more hopeful than the "we're in the middle of a coup" theories.
Here's my fear: you're right about Trump, but you're forgetting Bannon. I think Trump has no long-term plan. I think Bannon DOES have a long term plan, and he's using Trump to get there. And his plan is largely white supremacy.