Two years ago, my former governor, Rick Perry, called Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency a “cancer.” But this was during the primary season, and Perry was being dramatic.
Nevertheless, Trump is now president and his administration is sick. The symptoms are felt throughout our republic and the world. But if we’re going to use a medical analogy, I prefer a less dramatic malady, say, a low-grade fever, which, unlike cancer, can’t kill us. And the body politic’s effort to fight it off may actually make us stronger.
But enough with the medical analogies. Even fair-minded Trump supporters must have some doubts about how well his first six months in office have gone. His administration is characterized by chaos rather than competence. In Congress, his party is drifting. And the president himself cannot stop making statements that are false, embarrassing or dangerous.
None of this is likely to change. But there are hopeful signs that the disarray in the White House is spurring other entities into action. Last Friday Reps. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, and Tom Reed, a New York Republican, described the efforts of the 43-member House Problem Solvers Caucus to develop a bipartisan plan to stabilize the health care marketplace.
The details of the plan can be found on the editorial page of the New York Times, and they sound like practical, good-faith thinking that could lead to a compromise between two significantly different approaches to health care.
But the important news is the Caucus itself, a bipartisan group that recognizes that, as the White House flounders and an overly partisan Congress dithers, the well-being of our nation requires good people to step up to fill the void.
Donald Trump is a bully, but citizens are showing the courage to stand up to him in the service of doing the right thing.
Here’s an example: When the administration forced Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to attempt to strong-arm Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski into line on the recent effort in the Senate to repeal Obamacare, she refused to be intimidated, reminding us that a president is just a president and that power in our nation is distributed among many.
When President Trump seemingly encouraged a room full of police recruits not to worry too much about roughing up suspects — “Please don’t be too nice,” he told them — he generated the cheers and applause that he adores.
But seasoned police officers and departments across the nation were quick to reject Trump’s ill-advised remarks. The reaction of the Suffolk County Police Department was typical: “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”
Finally, it would be difficult to identify President Trump’s most incompetent action since Jan. 20, but I might vote for his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Regardless of how Trump feels about climate change, except for reinforcing support from his base, he and the nation have nothing to gain from the withdrawal and quite a bit to lose.
But, again, other entities have stepped up to fill the space left by his bad leadership. Even as Trump has reversed efforts by the Obama administration to limit greenhouse gases, states such as California, New York and Virginia, as well as major U.S. cities, are acting on their own to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
And even Walmart has announced its intention to cut greenhouse gases in its supply chain by a gigaton by 2030. A gigaton is more than the annual greenhouse emissions of Germany.
So the Trump administration is sick, but it’s not cancer and it won’t kill us. Surgery is not called for. But resistance is. We made a bad choice on Nov. 8, 2016. As the Trump administration stumbles and bumbles, citizens and political entities must not be intimidated by a bullying White House.
Usually a bully is also a bluffer. This president calls for caution, but he is nothing to fear. And resistance to his dysfunctional administration could strengthen our republic.
John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.