The first easy solution to an impossibly thorny question I remember President Donald Trump promising was on health care, in 2015: “You’re going to have such great health care, at a fraction of the cost, and it’s going to be so easy!” Trump said, over and over again, and he didn’t stop at health care.
According to Trump, every problem the nation faces is simply solved. Just let him at it.
The common thread that ties together Trump’s platform for changing the nation is that all problems have simple and easy solutions. They only evade us because we’ve put eggheads in charge, past leaders who are fools, desrving of nothing but disrespect.
That’s how you start saying that putting poisonous disinfectant inside people’s bodies might cure the coronavirus, or ultraviolet lamps could.
“It gives you a corona cure and delightful tan, too … and it’s so easy!”
Or that malaria drugs that Trump has pushed for months, that studies now suggest may in fact double the rate of coronavirus fatalities, are a cure the eggheads just can’t accept.
The big conspiracy theory, one that helped get Trump elected and may help get him elected again, is the idea that fancy book learning and highfalutin language are not methods of expressing wisdom or knowledge but instead are ways of obscuring the easy simplicity of the world. This makes sense to a lot of people, this political theory of “justjustjust.”
Just make the damn illegals go home and get in line.
Just make the federal government stop wasting our money and cut taxes.
Just make China (Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Israel, Palestinians) pay for it, build it, kill it, buy it, stand down, shut up.
Just get rid of Obamacare and bring on the great, cheap coverage.
Just build the wall, and just make Mexico pay for it.
Just find a cure for that coronavirus.
Just put the thugs in jail.
Just stop the drugs at the border.
It’s only once Trump is actually forced to contend with complex issues, and fails, that he realizes they’re toughies, and tells his followers so.
“Who knew health care was so complicated,” he asked, and this childlike amazement at such moments would be charming, were he not a president who does not realize what most 9-year-olds do: This stuff is hard.
There are a lot of problems that ought to be easier to clean up. One Trump was right on, for instance, was trade with China. Telling a country that’s robbing you blind, “Stop or you can’t sell products in our nation,” should have been our stance toward China for the past 30 years and Trump’s simple thinking helped him see that. And there are other problems with simple fixes.
Government offices ought to be open nights and weekends.
The IRS should just send you a bill for your taxes if you don’t itemize, like American Express does. They know what you owe.
Baseball shouldn’t allow designated hitters.
Traffic lights should turn green for us when no one is coming.
But the problems Trump babbles about easily dispatching, health care, high taxes, wars, pandemics, paying off the national debt, educating people, and dealing with immigration, economics, environmental policy and crime ... it’s all fantastically complex, and that’s why he hasn’t gotten anywhere with most of it.
The big promise broken was that fixing all our problems would be simple. And you’d have to be simple to fall for it twice.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.