For liberals, the shadow of Donald Trump looms far larger than the man

Since I still take in a fair amount of non-political entertainment, particularly from Comedy Central and similar outlets, it hasn’t been hard for me to pick up on the trend towards doom and gloom among liberal “thought leaders” this year. The tears shed on election night last November have dried, only to be replaced by a feeling of depression. Everything is terrible. The world is a much darker place. “Disaffected communities” are living in fear under a new authoritarian regime. It’s an endless refrain on many outlets.

This idea showed up yet again when long-time talk show icon Phil Donahue showed up on MSNBC to declare that the country had fallen into the modern equivalent of an Edgar Allan Poe story. (The Hill)

Former talk-show host Phil Donahue on Saturday reflected on President Trump’s administration, calling it “the darkest political moment in American history.”

“This is the darkest political moment in American history,” Donahue said on MSNBC Saturday. “Who’s going to argue that?”…

When asked about whether he thought Trump could be impeached, Donahue said that Trump is too popular and it wouldn’t be a good decision for lawmakers’ popularity. Donahue compared Trump to Elvis saying his base “will not tolerate criticism” of the president.

Yes, clearly President Trump has ruined everything so you can all mope about, dreaming of the beautiful American landscape which has fallen into ruin. But just to make sure that we’re all on the same page here, precisely what is it that’s changed since noon on January 20th of this year? I’m not trying to pester you too much during your period of mourning, but could you provide me with some specifics?

I’ve heard endless commentators talking about how various people are “living in fear” under the new regime… particularly gays, minorities, women, Muslims and puppies for all I know. But how is life currently any different? To answer that question we’d have to look to a list of the President’s accomplishments. I suppose the easiest, big ticket item would be on immigration. Refugees, illegal aliens and, one presumes, legal immigrants are all facing hard times under Trump, right? But the numbers don’t really support it. The Travel Ban remains a huge topic of discussion but it never even went into effect until a couple of weeks ago. And how about those “deportation forces” that have everyone living in fear? Actually, while the number of arrests of illegal aliens has gone up in some areas as part of more aggressive investigations, the actual number of deportations is pretty much the same as it was under Barack Obama. The laws are the same. The numbers are pretty much the same. The only thing which has really changed is the reporting on the subject. (The press was famously shy about talking very much about deportations under the previous administration.)

LGBT issues? Are gays suddenly being discriminated against under a raft of new laws and policies? Aside from failing to release a gay pride month statement (as if that affects anything) what has changed? We’ve seen the rolling back of one portion of Title IX for school bathroom policies, but apart from that this is the President who is apparently still moving forward with “transgender soldiers” and a host of other Obama era political detrius.

Really, the only area where you could point to any substantive changes would be on environmental regulations. Yeah, a couple of pipelines were approved and some other hugely burdensome EPA regulations were rolled back, but not much else. And is that really the driving factor determining day-to-day life quality for any measurable number of Americans?

Let’s be realistic here. Aside from foreign policy “tone” (not starting new wars or breaking alliances) and a couple of executive orders, Trump hasn’t managed to change much of anything in terms of the quality of life for anyone. It’s true that Trump has signed more bills into law thus far in his term than any president in decades, but most of them – outside of relaxing regulatory burdens – are more symbolic than game changing. (Though we did manage to name the Federal Building in Nashville after Fred Thompson.) Progress on major, kitchen-table issues like tax reform and health care have been stymied thus far. More people have jobs right now than at any time in recent memory and the anticipated armies of jack-booted storm troopers dragging all of the CNN and MSNBC news desk anchors off to reeducation camps have failed to appear.

The idea that these are “dark days” and that things have gotten so much worse is entirely a matter of perception, driven largely by the media. The day-to-day realities of life for virtually anyone in the country grind on much as they have for quite some time now. The chief difference is “all the feelings” and how liberals talk about life. Hating the president has grown from something of a cottage industry under both Bush administrations to a social justice juggernaut in 2017. But for all the running declarations that the doors are about to be kicked in at any moment, it’s simply not happening.

Angry and depressed people tend to die younger and experience a host of health problems which they might have otherwise avoided. Try to relax a bit and wait until the President actually does some of the things you’re so sure that he’s planning before you spiral into despair. And yes, Phil Donahue, I’m talking to you, too.