Give Him the Rump

The current White House occupant’s time in office has been about one thing over all others: Himself. How he has the best words, the smartest ideas, the biggest accomplishments, the greatest presidency.

As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, his campaign for reelection—like his 2016 run that put him in the nation’s highest office in the first place—will be all about him and how he alone can fix what’s broken in the country.

The curious thing, the dangerous thing, is that the opposition’s 2020 campaign is shaping up to be all about him too. Ask Democratic politicians and party officials and they will tell you the election is all about defeating him. Ask Democratic voters and most will tell you the election is all about getting rid of him.

This has to be very pleasing to him. If this election is all about him, he wins again.

This election not only needs to be about how to get the nation beyond the disruptions of a global pandemic but also how to guide the country through three revolutions we are going through all at once.

There’s the economic revolution driven by globalization and automation that is producing grotesque inequality as well as financial insecurity for millions of workers who labored in factories for family-supporting wages with health insurance and retirement pensions and watched their jobs exported overseas or automated out of existence. He has an answer for it: Slap tariffs on foreign products and those manufacturing jobs will come back here. Just saying his answer is wrong and he’s got to go will not be enough.

There’s the social revolution that is fast turning the historically dominant group in our society into a minority. He has an answer for it: Build a wall spanning the entire southern border and make Mexico pay for it. Just saying his answer is wrong and he’s got to go will not be enough.

There’s the ecological revolution that threatens life on this planet. He has an answer for that: The climate crisis is a hoax and we can go right on polluting without harm. Just saying his answer is wrong and he’s got to go will not be enough.

Democrats are united about who they are against. They are not united in the least about what they are for. One says Medicare for All and three others say nope it’ll never pass and besides we can’t possibly afford it. One says Green New Deal and four others say it would bankrupt us. One says student loan forgiveness and five others say sorry but we had to repay our loans. Never mind that their loans were puny compared to the debt students are buried under today. Never mind that no one ever bothers to ask how we will pay for the next war. Never mind that the effects of climate change, if left unchecked, will bankrupt us.

Back in medieval times, if you had the right bloodlines and knew the right people, you were given the privilege of an audience with the monarch. After properly genuflecting and kissing the ring, you could make conversation. But as you did, you lived in fear of being rumped. That’s when the king found you tiresome and turned his back on you. Rumping meant banishment from the royal court.

In a democracy, the citizenry is sovereign. When the national conversation needs to be about more than him, we can give him the rump. We can turn our backs on him and banish him from our thoughts. It’s not too late to make this election about economic inequality, health insecurity, environmental insanity and so much more.

Mike McCabe

March 18, 2020