Sometimes overlooked in reflection on the dark rise of Donald Trump to the presidency is that the anger felt by much of the Midwest and the Rust Belt that enabled him (along with Russian interference) to pull off his tiny-fingered prestidigitation throughout the primary season and ultimately in the general election was not only based on a feeling of economic powerlessness. After all, the economy was in fairly good shape throughout 2016, especially compared to the relatively recent economic crisis that closed out the Bush presidency and lingered for years.
Trump created for his Fox News and MAGAmedia fanbase a fictional system so hopelessly corrupt, personified by Hillary Clinton, that a vote for anyone but him would be essentially worthless because only a bastard outsider could “fix” what swampy Beltway creatures ruined in their lust for power and corporate lobbying largesse (nevermind that these people were, and still are, mostly obstructionist career-politician Republicans). That just under 66 million Clinton voters saw through the sham was made meaningless when the previously reliable “blue wall” fell in what appears to be questionable fashion, thus handing Trump the electoral college “victory” despite securing about 3 million fewer votes.
The desperate hypothesis that Trump had the ability or desire to fix anything, other than the game to his own ends, turned out to be a disastrous miscalculation of still unknown – but seemingly monumental – proportions. The realization by the midterms that Trump did nothing more than continue his late career antics of leveraging his Apprentice branding to get away with theft by deception after flailing through a clownish “career” in the NYC real estate game and losing all his daddy’s money, led to a huge House pickup for Dems, who then swiftly brought oversight back to Congress.
The unquestionable avatar of rookie Democrats is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has not only shown a deft hand at chopping down the Trumpy dupes who challenge her, but recently scored a big win calling out systemic corruption during a hearing which became a viral video and has racked up 38 million views and counting on Twitter alone. Her argument on this topic is substantive, concise, and most importantly, widely accessed, at a time when Trump takes up so much oxygen it’s hard for anyone else to get a breath. That’s a unique talent that transcends ideology. An intelligent, credible response to corruption only helps as Dems battle Trump on issues like Russia and his deranged immigration policy.
AOC’s presentation was in relation to H.R. 1, a resolution to, among other things, make the release of presidential tax returns mandatory while introducing a range of ethical reforms meant to address systemic abuses. While legislation that benefits people rather than huge lobbying interests like the corrupt NRA face an uphill battle as long as the Senate and presidency remain in GOP hands, getting millions of eyes and ears on issues that matter only helps the Democratic cause as the House fights back.
Chuck is a former community reporter, columnist, and Army veteran