‘Surprisingly Uneventful’

Despite all this ruckus over immigration, I still stand by my earlier prediction that the Trump presidency will be ‘surprisingly uneventful’. All of this commotion will blow over. Silicon Valley is like the 5-6th branch of government (along with the federal reserve, the Ivy League, and Hollywood), given how much influence tech firms are exerting in this immigration debate. Never before has there been so much debate over a singe issue. In a way, this debate is bringing the nation together (in term of everyone discussing the same issue) and is an additional example of how America is the center of not only the economic universe but also the political one.

It seems some on the far-left actually want Trump to be more extreme, if it means weakening the grip of Silicon Valley on the economy and society. They want Peter Theil to not have his Trump cake and be able to eat it too. Some on the left are happy to see that the sainthood of Google is not, after all, immune from the dirty grind of politics. They, the far-left, also want people to stop using Uber. These immigrants, in way, are pawns for the left’s war against Silicon Valley and wealth inequality. Both the ‘left’ and ‘right’ have grievances with Silicon Valley’s tech elite; for the left: wealth inequality, boosting rents and making housing less affordable in certain regions, possible worker exploitation (Apple factory conditions, Amazon warehouse working conditions), ignoring or overlooking data and user privacy concerns, insularity; for the right: pro-immigration (H-1B visas), promotion of liberal and secular cultural values (such as Tim Cook’s outspoken support of gay marriage), and also insularity and elitism.

Recently, Scott Alexander got some push back by some readers because the ‘Muslim ban’ seems to contradict what he wrote in his hugely viral earlier post Are You Still Crying Wolf, in which Scott admonished the media for trying to create a link between Trump and Trump supporters with racists, when no such link existed. Scott is correct to stick with his guns, and that this ban is not evidence of ‘racism’ (a word which in recent decades has since so diluted and all-encompassing as to be practically meaningless anyway). Furthermore, it’s likely to be constitutionally legal. Entry into the US for non-citizens is a privilege, not a right, and under exigent circumstances can be temporarily revoked.

A major concern raised against Scott is that because Trump’s executive order occurred only within the first nine days of his presidency, one can extrapolate that at such a rate things will be considerably worse by his 1460th day, the final week of Trump’s first term. Muslim entry bans today, internment camps tomorrow? As a silver lining for the left, another possibility is that that this executive order is ‘peak awfulness’. Consider 911, which occurred within just the first nine months year of Bush’s first term. Making a similar extrapolation, some expected WW3 and nuclear war by the time Bush left office (assuming the presidency as an institution still existed), but in retrospect 911 was just a outlier – a really bad event that 15 years later hasn’t even remotely come close to being repeated.

But going back to the original point, by ‘surprisingly uneventful’, I mean a boring and uneventful presidency, similar to Obama’s presidency. Both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ probably need to temper their expectations about Trump. For a presidency to be exciting, the stakes have to be high. The Bush presidency was exiting, as there were two high-stakes issues and one medium-stakes one: 911, the invasion of Iraq (medium), and years later, the financial crisis. Obama continued where Bush left off, but by then most of the heavy lifting had already been done–the financial crisis and bear market ended just months after Obama’s inauguration, and in 2011 Bin Laden was killed (thanks to the intelligence work of the Bush administration). ISIS is problematic, but not as bad as Al-Qaeda, in that ISIS’ targets tend to be overseas, sporadic, and less carefully planned, not domestic. Since the financial crisis ended, the news cycle has been dominated by low or medium-stakes events. WW2 was high-stakes; Syria is low/medium stakes because America as a nation isn’t being threatened, nor at much risk. Trump’s ‘ban’, despite all the leftist outrage, is low-stakes.