In astrophysics and orbital mechanics, there is a pretty common technique used to magnify the propulsion of a space vehicle. It is called a “gravitational slingshot” or a “gravity assist” maneuver. It’s been used since the Mariner 10 probe in 1973. Using the relative movement (e.g. orbit around the Sun) and gravity of a planet or other astronomical object (you can use a comet if it has its own gravity) to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, one can save propellant, time, and expense. Gravity assistance can be used to accelerate a spacecraft, that is, to increase or decrease its speed and/or redirect its path. It’s like accelerating into a curve in a car to get “thrown” out the other side.
If you have seen the Matt Damon movie, The Martian, this is the move the crew of the Hermes used to get back to Mars to pick up Mark Watney.
One might ask what this has to do with the price of tea in China…well, there’s this…
Democrats fully expected to take over the Senate in the recent 2016 presidential election – they didn’t.
In total, 33 Senate seats will be up for grabs in 2018, 25 of which are currently occupied by Democrats, or Independents who caucus with the Democrats. Only eight available seats are currently occupied by Republicans. Not good odds for the Donks, especially if the first two years of the Reign of King Cheezus goes well.
Democrats and “progressives do understand the long game; they have been chipping away for decades. They don’t see change in 4 year presidential term increments, they look 40 years out. They realize that American politics are rarely an exercise in paradigm shifts, a rapid lurch to one side or the other. Political evolution, slow and steady, is the process by which long term change is implemented and cemented. Was 2016 a tectonic shift – I doubt it. More than likely it is just a reset before the the next battle. It can start the transformation but it won’t BE the transformation any more than Obama was the singular transformational event for the Democrats.
Voting for the lesser of two evils does of course guarantee the election of an evil, we can all agree on that – and a two party system does propagate this potentiality. I will voted Republican in 2016, maybe not because I am fully supportive of the nominee but because of a more general support of a philosophy. I wish that were not the case but electability must be considered due to these absolute rules of politics: 1) you can’t govern if you can’t get elected, 2) you can’t change government from the outside, therefore, 3) electability is important, 4) true political change is a long term proposition and 5) we need the presidency AND control of Congress to make any structural changes. This may appear to create a “Sophie’s choice” sort of thing for conservative Republicans who must choose a candidate by electability over being a perfect conservative but only if we singularly focus only on the next election.
Pragmatism does not mean compromising on conservative principles; it means that the focus is on the long term implementation of conservative policy by winning elections with people who know how to play the long game. It means planting the seeds of conservatism the same way that Democrats have planted the seeds of progressivism.
So, that brings me back to the gravitational slingshot. Trump, like Obama, seems to be one of those rare poltio-astronomical objects with an ego big enough to have its own gravity. One wonders if we will see the event horizon of the singularity because we have now seen alternating elections of dark matter and matter.
Can conservatives put up with his authoritarian, executive order shtick long enough to craft and agenda that can slingshot conservatism past populism and back into high orbit? I think there is a possibility to take the economy, Obamacare and SCOTUS, three things that impact the most people and leverage them to slingshot in to an impossible to defeat Senate majority where conservative principles would mean something again.
Perhaps Trump is that conservative slingshot. Many Republicans didn’t want Trump – not all of them “elites” – but we have him, now we need to see if we can figure out how to use this to play the long game.