Friday, January 13, 2017

The Trump Survival Guide, by Gene Stone

The overblown reactions to Trump's election victory have been remarkable and amusing to watch.  The weeping and wailing, the scare-mongering, and the plans--by the press, elected officials, and activists--to work against Trump's agenda are, in my my memory, completely unprecedented in American politics.  Sure, there have been unhappy losers, but the intensity of the reactions to Hillary Clinton's electoral loss beats them all.

Gene Stone has written a guide to help those who want to respond to and work against Trump and his agenda.  The Trump Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Living Through What You Hoped Would Never Happen covers twelve policy areas.  Each chapter is laid out something like this:
  1. Historical background of a particular policy, with emphasis on how George W. Bush and the evil Republicans tried to block progress and screw up America.
  2. The many ways that President Saint Barak Obama, the Holy and Infallible, worked to make the United States and the World better by his many unassailable works and pronouncements.
  3. The many ways that the evil usurper President Donald Trump will assail human rights, good governance, and common decency, overturning Saint Obama's good works and dragging the United States to oblivion.
  4. Ways that you, the citizen, can work to preserve sanity and work toward good policy even under the reign of Trump.
Obviously, I am exaggerating.  In case you couldn't see through my subtle elocution, Stone and I don't see eye-to-eye in evaluating the Obama legacy and the prospects of the Trump presidency.  You can certainly figure out from the title that Stone's agenda is quite liberal.  So it's not surprising that his policy proposals and suggestions for action are all quite liberal, and that he does not leave any opening for opposing views.  An objective analysis this Survival Guide is not.  I say this as observation, not criticism; partisanship has its place.

As much as I disagree with Stone's policy positions, I do have to give him some props.  The introductory background portion of each chapter is actually pretty decent.  He gives a quick nutshell, something like a Wikipedia overview.  Also, Stone's calls to action are very reasonable.  He lists some organizations to support, books to read, and offers a few practical suggestions for action.  But nowhere does he say march in the streets, block highways, chain yourself to a desk, or any other obnoxious "activism."  (Although I suppose some of the organizations he lists have been known to do such things.)  His assessment of Obama's presidency, unsurprisingly, is overly generous, and his predictions of the Trump presidency overly critical.  He talks about the "horrific possibilities" of the Trump presidency, but does call for us "to be disciplined and try to confine our attention to [Trump's] actions."

The Trump Survival Guide was not as ridiculous as I thought it might be when I picked it up.  Some keys to survival will be to realize that, like all politicians, campaign rhetoric is toned down to more accommodating positions once someone is elected to office, and once in office, a president's agenda has to go through many filters.  As Stone says, "most of Trump's drastic plans, if he chooses to implement them, will not be easy to accomplish."  His closing advice is worth heeding, no matter whether you're on the left or right: "Appoint yourself the ambassador for the America you believe in." Amen to that!

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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