Having endured a presidential election in which the winner lowered our national IQ each time he opened his mouth, we now face a president ill-prepared to operate in the real world. Fake facts, empty slogans and emotional outbursts proved to be a winning formula in the race. President-elect Donald Trump however now, to his shock and amazement, actually must govern.
For him, talk radio, right-wing advocacy groups, the Freedom Caucus and Fox Non-News evening programming, there is no differentiation between preventing something from happening and dispensing with it once it is in place. Legitimate opposition to President Obama’s use of executive orders to change immigration law is a far cry from turning around to deport those who self-identified and passed initial vetting. The facts have changed. In the context of Obamacare, there was good reason up front to reform rather than merely extend Medicaid, but having put millions onto Medicaid rolls (and millions more onto the exchanges) “repealing” Obamacare on Day One becomes nonsensical. If you are going to blow up the bridge, you better get everyone on it to shore first. Social conservatives who opposed same-sex marriage now live in a country in which the Supreme Court has ruled and gay marriages take place every day. There is no going back. And by the way, straight marriage has not collapsed in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. We ascribe no causation but divorce rates are at a 40-year low. Perhaps “traditional marriage” advocates should be cheering this:
The U.S. divorce rate dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years, according to data released Thursday.
Marriage rates, on the other hand, increased last year. In 2015, there were 32.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women age 15 or older, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. This represents a jump from 31.9 in 2014 and is the highest number of marriages since 2009, which suggests that marriage rates may be stabilizing after decades of decline.
On the divorce side, the 2015 rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women age 15 or older, which is down from 17.6 in 2014 and a peak of almost 23 divorces in 1980.
This phenomenon should be of particular concern in national security. In January 2017 Trump will enter office in a world in which sanctions have been lifted on Iran; Iran has successfully extracted “ransom” for multiple hostages; Iran has illegally launched multiple missile tests; Bashar al-Assad is still in power in Syria (thanks to Iran and Russia); and Iran has received $150 billion or so in sanctions relief. In this context what does “ripping up” the Iran deal on Day One really mean?
We would have to be prepared to reimpose sanctions, sanction our own companies and our allies for doing business with Iran, threaten to and be prepared to use military force if Iran proceeded with its nuclear program, etc. Even if you think all that is possible and desirable — we do not — it is a far cry from objecting to the deal up front (precisely because one anticipated all these terrible consequences). Trump inherits a world in which the Iran deal is a fact, and he must devise policies designed to achieve our original objectives, namely checking Iran’s regional aggression and forestalling it from becoming a nuclear power.
Critics of the JCPOA suggest a variety of approaches:
First, the Treasury Department could put further pressure on the Iranian economy and nefarious Iranian actors such as the IRGC by limiting foreign companies’ willingness to enter Iranian markets. . . . Second, the Treasury Department could clarify that — in the case of the Iran sanctions program — offshore dollarized transactions would be subject to U.S. jurisdiction . . . . Third, the new administration could adopt a more aggressive enforcement posture towards foreign companies re-entering Iranian markets in ways that violate U.S. sanctions. . . .
In addition to pushing Iran over its continued support for terrorism, ballistic missile development, and human rights abuses, this added economic pressure would also increase Trump’s hand if he were to decide that the United States should push to renegotiate the JCPOA. While these changes in U.S. sanctions regulations and guidelines would not be in violation of the current nuclear agreement, as they were neither contained nor bargained for in the JCPOA, they could be used in future negotiations as bargaining chips to obtain additional concessions from Iran, either related to its nuclear program or its continued support for terrorism.
Whatever tools he deploys must be used in the context of the existing JCPOA. We might, with clever negotiations and economic leverage get Iran to walk away from the deal but ripping it up is a campaign slogan, not a policy. Trump should know that those still mouthing his “rip up the deal on Day One” mantra are ill-informed, childish and/or trying to curry favor at the expense of solid advice. He shouldn’t hire them.
Governing is hard enough without having said a long list of ludicrous things along the way to a gullible echo chamber. As he departs from his fantasy list, critics of his ludicrous promises should cheer. We are gravely disturbed by a candidate who gets into office by lying and advancing nonsense. We would be even more disturbed if he stuck with his nonsense.