While President-Elect Donald Trump has been an absolute horror show—hate crimes spiked in the wake of his election, his picks for the Cabinet have been universally terrifying, and he seems to have little to no interest in actually governing—there have been some silver linings to his ascendancy to the nation’s highest office.
Here are five.
Romney was one of Trump’s harshest critics during the campaign. The former governor of Massachusetts and failed contender for the presidency in 2012 railed against Trump throughout 2016. His speech on March 3 against then-contender for the GOP nomination was full of snide criticism and distaste, mocking Trump’s business acumen and calling the real estate mogul out for his lies.
“Here’s what I know,” Romney said. “Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.”
But Romney, whose campaign in 2012 relied on dog whistles and a full embrace of the worst of conservatism embodied in his pick for Vice President Paul Ryan, came crawling to Trump when the job of Secretary of State was available. Trump indicated that Romney might get the position and Romney dined with him, took meetings with him, and sang his praises outside of Trump Tower.
Of course, Romney never had a prayer. Trump announced Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil, as his pick last week.
Watching Romney grovel in front of Trump was an enjoyable spectacle.
A quixotic attempt to deny Trump the presidency through the Electoral College has led to a number of concerned citizens calling for a movement of Hamilton Electors to vote against their states’ winner. The logic—as far as there is any—to this movement is that it’s what Alexander Hamilton would do.
And that’s true! Hamilton wasn’t a fan of the people electing their leaders directly. His elitism precluded allowing the citizens total enfranchisement. That’s not really a good thing, despite the attempts of anthropomorphized 1980s rap cliche Lin-Manuel Miranda to rewrite Hamilton’s story.
Even if thwarting the will of the people, which is arguable in light of the popular vote totals, was the correct route to take, the Hamilton Electors have suggested two terrible replacements: the aforementioned Romney and John Kasich. Romney’s lack of principles in the face of power is detailed above, while Kasich is Trump rewritten politely: same policies, genteel delivery.
So why is this a silver lining? Because it proves that moderate liberals and conservatives don’t care about actual policy or democracy. They only want to see their preferred candidate in office. It doesn’t matter what those candidates do, it only matters how they do it. It’s a revealing look at the exact class of people who got us into this mess.
Christie must have thought he had struck gold on election night. One of the first of Trump’s primary opponents to endorse the billionaire, Christie had stuck close to Trump throughout the general election and defended him on numerous occasions as scandal after scandal rocked the Trump campaign.
Christie was put in charge of Trump’s transition team before election day, mostly as a ceremonial position for an event nobody realistically thought would happen. Once Trump was elected, however, Christie was stripped of his position and kicked out of the inner and even the outer circles of Trump’s orbit.
It all comes down to Christie’s grandstanding prosecution of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father for tax evasion, fraud, and illegal campaign contributions a decade ago. Not merely content with arresting Charles Kushner, Christie perp-walked the real estate magnate in front of cameras, humiliating him.
The arrest and prosecution of the elder Kushner launched Christie’s political career; Christie’s embrace of the younger Kushner’s father-in-law destroyed it. A poetic end.
If Christie was loyal, Giuliani was fanatical. The former Mayor of New York City was Trump’s most die-hard surrogate on the campaign trail, defending his friend from all manner of righteous, fact based attacks.
His speech at the Republican National Convention was equal parts a horror show, a comedy, and a glimpse into the befuddled mind of an elderly man losing touch with reality. His glasses-askew grumpiness in response to mockery from Hillary Clinton at the Al Smith Dinner in October solidified his reputation as a man about whom something was a little “off.”
Giuliani made no secret that he wanted the Secretary of State position, lobbying on news media and in person. Slowly but surely, however, the Trump team forced the Mayor out of the running and out of the Tower. The defeat was final in an interview with Neil Cavuto, in which a deflated Giuliani tried to put a brave face on the fact that he had been publicly rejected from any position in the Trump White House.
It’s hopefully the last we’ll hear from Giuliani, who rode a wave of popularity stemming from being the Mayor of New York City during the 9/11 attacks for 15 years. The dubbing of Giuliani as “America’s Mayor” after the event was particularly difficult to watch for anyone who had any knowledge of his tenure in New York, punctuated by a full throated defense of the NYPD no matter what they did— including shooting Amadou Diallo 41 times as he reached for a sandwich and torturing Abner Louima in a prison cell.
Hold on— hear me out.
The next four years are going to be hell. It’s going to be a fight unlike any other we’ve ever known to stop the assault on our values, our environment, and our marginalized brothers and sisters. But it’s only going to be four years.
If Trump had lost, we’d be looking at four years of Clinton. That would mean a neutered left and a surging reactionary right wing. After four years of Clinton, the country would look the same as it looks now. Good economic numbers, little actual economic benefits for the people in the country. The people would want change more than they do now, after 36 years of failed neoliberalism.
And Clinton would face a challenge from someone like Ted Cruz, who is far, far more dangerous than Trump. He knows how to get things done. He’s smart. He could be a much greater threat than Trump.
Trump’s presidency won’t get another term. Already, he’s losing his base of supporters with his Cabinet picks and coziness with Wall Street and big business. Four years of the kind of corruption and ineptitude a Trump administration will bring to the country will ensure that he serves one term and that his toxic politics won’t survive re-election.
As long as we don’t all die in nuclear annihilation first.
You can reach Eoin Higgins on Facebook and Twitter.