Republicans Convinced Americans to Hate Washington — But Can They Run It?

The Undertakers, “That should cover it.” Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it,” Heath Ledger says in his Academy Award-winning performance as The Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington are in a similar situation. They have been maligning and obstructing the federal government for eight years now, questioning the legitimacy of the president, gumming up the works of Congress and even the Supreme Court. In the process, they eroded any faith the American people had in their leaders.

That strategy worked brilliantly. Americans hate the government and handed Republicans total control of the nation’s capital. In other words, the dog caught the car. Now what?

Now they are “the government” and have to deliver.

More than anything, Trump will be measured by his high-profile campaign promises, such as fixing the economy, “draining the swamp,” repealing and replacing Obamacare with something awesome and building a big wall that Mexico will pay for. After all, he was swept into office as a tough-on-immigrants outsider with business acumen.

The economy remains the number one issue for voters in the Rust Belt, which delivered the White House to the GOP. What these voters want is for Trump and his Republican majority to bring back well-paying, blue-collar jobs. Chances are they won’t — most of the jobs in any new or returning factories will go to robots. And then what? There is nobody left to blame.

Trump has said he can juice the economy to better than 4% annual growth. That’s a tall order. Economists believe that his tax plan would massively increase the debt, and his “America first” trade policy could quickly result in growth-stifling trade wars.

Another problem for Trump is that the economy typically goes through a recurring cycle of ups and downs — and the US is due for another recession in his first term.

If he does not manage to create as many well-paying jobs as promised, then he will feel even greater pressure to deliver on his other promises. But draining the swamp looms as a Herculean task — in particular because his transition team includes plenty of lobbyists and Washington insiders. 

As for imposing congressional term limits, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down that idea within 12 hours of Trump getting elected.

That leaves the great southern border wall, paid for by Mexico, and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Nobody really believes the wall will ever be built — and certainly not with Mexican pesos — so how is that going to play with Trump’s most loyal supporters?

As for repealing and replacing Obamacare, that is also much harder than candidate Trump made it sound. Killing the program outright would require approval from Congress, where Republicans do not hold enough seats to overcome Democratic opposition.

Just as important, no politician is going to want to tell the 25 million people who have insurance coverage thanks to the law that they will lose it without an adequate replacement.

All of this shows that it’s much easier for a dog to chase a car than to drive it.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Mitch McConnell  caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), John Roberts caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), coffin (US Marines), and check (Southern Arkansas University / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).

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  • truthmonger

    It is not the job of the President to create jobs. It is the job of the government to get out of the way and let us create our own. The total economy is the sum total of our individual economies. Top-down economizing never seems to work. Help the individual and you will help everyone. The best way to help is to stop hindering.

  • Midwesterner

    What a stupid article. Conservatives have always been wary of government. They rightfully recognize that it is force and its use should be limited.

    As Reagan said; “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

    This is not some new phenomena.
    And the talk of how Trump will not have the ability to bring jobs back. Elimination of the terrible trade agreements such as NAFTA is one step in the right direction. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t but favoring a few select globalized company as winners at the expense of everyone else is certainly worse.

  • David S

    Our FOUNDING FATHERS feared government. The bulk of America fears the government simply because they must deal with the government every day. The book “Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent” details how government overreach, massive numbers of federal laws and regulations, etc. have led to nearly EVERY AMERICAN committing 3 federal crimes a day (most without even knowing it). Don’t blame the republicans for getting everyone to hate/fear the government. If anything, blame the democrats who push more and more government into everyone’s lives, and the government itself for being nothing but violence, force, and economic destruction on behalf of their crony capitalist friends.

    “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
    – George Washington

  • JayGoldenBeach

    For such a broken government, there is no shortage of Republicans wanting to be part of it. For all the campaigns Republicans have won, they never try to fix the government.

    Same politicians eager for Americans to be ripped off by Big Business and Wall Street money-changers.

    • David S

      Big Business and the Wall Street money-changers were supporting Hillary with millions this time around. Both parties are fundamentally broken and must go. Government is the problem. It cannot be “fixed.”

  • Yong Liu

    hehe I like this

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