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NOV. 17, 2018

CANDID PERSPECTIVES

America Flipped, But Still Divided; Trump? The Same

by Emil GUILLERMO

On the day after one of the biggest turnouts ever for a U.S. midterm election, the president of the United States won’t let reality spoil his view of life through Trump-colored glasses.

He saw the 2018 midterms as a “tremendous success,” according to a tweet.

That’s where he was succinct.

But then he gave a news conference to let people know in person how he really feels.

Trump boldly stated, “I think people like me. I think the people like the job, I’m doing frankly.”

That’s even though exit polls showed these mid-term elections were really a referendum on Trump himself and his reckless style of blunt governing. Whatever attracted voters in 2016 was rejected by voters in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin which gave Trump his margin of victory in 2016. Those voters led an anti-Trump switch back to the Democrats throughout the nation.

Here’s how a normal objective person would see the mid-term elections of Tuesday night:

In a resounding rebuke of anti-immigrant, hot rhetoric, a record number of voters returned the Democrats to power in the House of Representatives, flipping the required 23 Republican held seats, and adding perhaps as many as a dozen more as post-election counting continued.

It also saw that the anti-diversity tone of the president is a losing one. The first Muslim women, the first Native American women all won seat in the House.

But the victory was not total, as voters at the same time gave Republicans an even wider majority in the Senate.

So while the Senate, the presidency and the Supreme Court remain in Republican control, a real check on power was restored with the Democratic majority in the House.

On Tuesday, America stays divided, but in a new way, where the president nor the Republicans can no longer avoid the oversight scrutiny from powerless Democrats as they did in the first two years of the Trump presidency.

At his news conference on Wednesday, Trump was hardly holding out an olive branch.

It was more like he was swinging a blunt stick, as he continued to insist what a good night he had.

“I’ll be honest,” Trump said. “I thought it was close to a complete victory.”

And then, he implied the way things worked actually could be good for deal-making.

“I really believe we have a chance to get along well with the Democrats,” Trump said. “And if that’s the case we can do a tremendous amount of legislation and get it approved by both parties.”

But will the temperature lowered in the name of bipartisan progress?

“I would love to see unity, and peace and love, and any other word you’d like to use,” said Trump. “And obviously I think we had to, especially at this juncture, wait until after the midterms were over, and now they’re over. If they would cover me fairly which they don’t, I’m not saying this in a hostile way, I get extremely inaccurate coverage, I could do something fantastic and they can make it look not good.”

The president rambled and repeated how he “would love to see unity.”

But it was also the very press conference where he personally berated a CNN reporter for being rude (Jim Acosta was aggressive, but not rude). We’ve come to expect the unfair beat down of CNN from Trump.

But the way Trump went after Acosta that day was over-the-top Amok, and not in a good way. And then Trump took away Acosta’s press pass.

CNN, of course sued, and just this week a federal judge ordered the White House to return the pass as a possible violation of the First Amendment, and a definite encroachment on Acosta’s 5th Amendment rights of due process.

Trump can’t just pick and choose his news media. Who does he think he is, Duterte?

I certainly didn’t expect Trump to continue his rampage at that presser, going after an African American reporter from PBS for asking a question about Trump calling himself a nationalist which the reporter said “emboldened white nationalists.”

The president was rude and interrupted the PBS reporter, calling it a racist question.

He had to answer to a very fair question. Trump could only talk about his poll numbers with African Americans. Still, he couldn’t get over the initial question.

“That’s so insulting to me, that’s a very terrible thing you said.”

Sounded fair to me. The reporter didn’t imply he was racist. It’s just that the president didn’t want to answer a tough question. So he attacked the media and made himself into a victim.

Another reporter asked the president whether he’d change his tone. If he was serious about bipartisanship, especially after the divisive anti-immigrant tone he used in the final weeks of the campaign, could we see a softer Trump?

Trump said: “I would love to have, I’d be very good at a low tone. But when things are done not correctly about you, written about you, said about you, on television, or wherever it is, you have to defend yourself. I would love to do very even toned, much easier than what I have to do. I have to go around. Going around is much easier than facing somebody being treated unfairly. But when you’re not treated unfairly you really have no choice. I would love to have an even, modest boring tone, but you know what, when you have to fight, all the time fight because you’re being misrepresented by the media, you really can’t do that.”

That’s how the president sees it.

He still hates the media. And he apparently didn’t learn much after a night that finds him staring at a House of Representatives with subpoena power that it’s sure to use judiciously in oversight.

But it almost guarantees Trump is ready for a fight against all comers not just in the coming year, but the next election.

And as for those Trumpy Filipinos—the most Trumpy of all Asian Americans?

They’re happy too.

On election day, I contacted my pro-Trump Filipino friend, a University of Santo Tomas doctor with a major U.S. clinic in the Midwest. A Trump supporter from the beginning, he’s been my barometer for how the most Trumpy Asian Americans—Filipinos—felt about the president.

As the votes were being counted, with indicators showing a mild anti-Trump semi-blue wave, Dr. Roy Flores was still pretty confidently Trumpy.

“I have become more and more a fan of Donald Trump,” he told me. “These midterms are a referendum on how well the president is doing and will be a preview of 2020.”

The Trumpy are just fine with the administration.

So, as I finish this column, we know that despite the midterms results, the Trump norm continues.

Trump’s just asked for and got Attorney General Jeff Sessions resignation.

It signals we’ll be feeling the harsher realities of the end of one party rule, sooner than later.

The signals are there from the day after the elections.

Expect the partisan divide to only worsen because now the Democrats aren’t powerless as they watch Trump trample through our democracy.

That’s definitely something to be thankful for as we approach the holiday.

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EMIL GUILLERMO is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes from Northern California. He recently won the 2015 Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American Journalists Association California.

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