• Pat Opperman


With the 2016 election in the rear-view mirror; analyzed in excruciating minutiae by every pundit, blogger and alleged expert across the world, one would expect to enter December with blissful holiday anticipation.

Politics would be relegated to its normal back shelf. It’s time to catch up on what else is happening in the world and get on with life.

This year is different. The people are riled up. Weeks after the election, they are still paying attention to Washington.

It is not just because we elected a publicity-seeking, narcissistic performer. There is real interest in what is going on. People are still demonstrating their passion on the streets of America.

It is safe to say that this would not be the case had Hillary Clinton been elected. Ah yes, Hillary. Her team had already scheduled transition meetings. No doubt, there were prepared lists of candidates who were already vetted and “safe”.

Appointments would have filtered out through mundane press releases to a largely apathetic audience. Most of the names would be recognizable and boring.

There would be few surprises. America would blissfully drift into holiday mode around stuffing and football.

Instead, Trump is shuffling people in and out of Trump Tower and leaking names that are prompting shock, dismay, and amazement.

He trots out his loyalists, the favorites, and lets the press report on their past transgressions. Then he tweets about how they are being unfairly judged by the biased media.

Then he mentions some of his largest detractors, the underdogs, as candidates under consideration just to make us wonder if he really is objectively thinking about who best fits key roles.

Would you like to see Mitt Romney as secretary of state? Don’t bet on it. Romney’s highly-publicized visit bears resemblance to how Trump publicly listed Ted Cruz as a leading candidate for Attorney General before nominating his only Congressional endorser, Jeff Sessions for the post.

Last week’s Trump tweets included a boast about how “only he knows the finalists” for each position. Sound familiar?

It appears Trump is staging his latest reality show, with the future of The United States at stake. His appointments to date have done nothing to calm the nerves of his opponents or even those preaching to give him a chance.

With the exception of Reince Priebus as chief of staff, every person named to the Team Trump has a history likely to offend somebody based on religion, sexual status, and/or racial biases.

It is as if Trump is more interested in getting an audience to tune in than he is about fielding an effective team.

Ultimately, that is what might save American democracy as we wistfully remember it. Trump’s knack for making people pay attention has the potential to change what has been the norm for too many years.

The days of Washington business muddling forward virtually unnoticed and unreported could be over. Whether it stems from fear of Trump, excitement, or just a morbid curiosity, people will be compelled to monitor events in the Capitol.

That is what gives me hope for the future.

We have already seen a younger generation moved to demand change. Bernie Sanders’ supporters and Trump supporters may have different ideas or ideals, but they also have a common denominator: they want things to be different.

Neither group has shown any hesitation to fight and speak out. Both camps mobilized previously unnoticed and untapped volumes of voters.

As both Trump and Sanders ply forward with their respective agendas, there is no reason to believe these newfound activists will slow down in their enthusiasm.

But Sanders is getting on in years and Trump has never been known for his attention span. What will keep the impetus for change from fading to oblivion?

Somewhere in those crowds are the future leaders of America. The more people who become emotionally invested, the more leaders will emerge from the masses.

That is simple Math and probability, but the thing that is most exciting is that these leaders will be different. Their standards and expectations are new.

Leadership does not mean conforming to the norms. This is not one new young congressperson about to be overwhelmed by establishment rules.

This could be a wave of new, young politicians who are bent on reinventing the system and giving the government back to the people.

Somewhere along the line, democracy was lost in the United States. Today, it is run as an oligarchy under the control of lobbyists pushing the causes of big business and the wealthiest few.

The way to get our democracy back is through protests and a mass uprising. Trump’s plans for America can keep that uprising going and might just save America.

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