Thursday, November 10, 2016

A duty to oppose

If you know me—and, let's face it, if you read this blog, you probably know me personally—you know that I'm unhappy with the results of Tuesday's election, to put it in the weakest terms possible.  Over the last 36 hours, I've been fending off some of the darker aspects of my personality and experiencing some emotions that I don't often feel:  anger, fear, depression, anxiety.

About a year and a half ago, I challenged the Republicans to nominate Donald Trump.  I believed at the time that there was no way that the American people would see fit to put him into office.  It's sort of the equivalent of electing Elvis as president.  Sure, he's popular, but he's utterly without qualifications.  (Those who watched the 1990s Teri Hatcher-Dean Cain version of Superman will recognize the election of a "surprise, I'm alive" Elvis as a minor plot point.)

So, I guess, the lesson is "be careful what you wish for."

But make no mistake:  His election cheapens the Presidency.  And that he was apparently elected with the second-most votes cheapens his election.

Various responses to this development suggest themselves.  My first thought was to move.  That's not a hysterical reaction, steeped in hyperbole.  Rather, it's a pragmatic solution to a central question:  Do I really want to live in Donald Trump's America?  Why not move to Australia or New Zealand, or to Canada, or even Belize (where they speak English, not that it's a problem)?

See, for the first time in my lifetime, in Wednesday's early-morning hours, I felt ashamed to be an American.

I didn't feel this way when George W. Bush was elected, because even though I thought he was a buffoon, he did have significant experience at the business of governing.  In fact, I believed--and still believe--that Bush was and is a good man who tried his best, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, to do his job in a way that would benefit people.  While we have strong disagreements about the best way to do that, I believe that his goal was to leave things better than he found them.  He may have failed, but I'm talking about motivations.

Donald Trump, by contrast...I can't speak to what's going on inside his mind.  But his words, his plans, his rhetoric, his behavior—all of them point to a classless, uncouth person who lacks decorum, who acts exclusively in his own self-interest, and who is willing to access his constituents' darker inner hatred of others to achieve his goals.  He is a disgusting human being who has no place in the Oval Office.  Unfortunately, the framers of the Constitution failed to include "not being a disgusting human being" among the qualifications for the Presidency.

I thought we were better than that.  I thought we had finally turned the corner and moved past that.  Unfortunately, we have not.

I should make clear, of course, that I do not believe that everyone who voted for Trump hates racial and sexual and religious minorities.  But everyone who voted for him is willing to tolerate, activate, and use that sort of hatred, as long as it doesn't interfere with their goals.  In a way, that's far worse.

See, the problem with Jim Crow wasn't only that the laws and the policies themselves we so onerous and degrading--it was also all the ostensibly good people who stood by and let it happen, who couldn't be bothered to take a stand.

So let's not mince words:  Even if you don't personally hate black people and Latinos and homosexuals and Muslims and disabled people, and even if you personally think that women shouldn't be subjected to sexual assault and degradation, if you voted for Trump, you said, loud and clear, that you are completely OK with people who do think that way having access to the levers of power in this country.

And that, my friends, is a viewpoint that I find shameful, and I'm not afraid to say it.  If it offends you, tough. It's up to you to repent of that particular sin.

So, in the end, the most important question is, "What do we do now?"

The next four years are going to be tough.  Even if Trump ends up resigning or getting removed from office—I think the odds of that are far greater than any president in my lifetime (I was born more than a year after Nixon resigned)—the next guy in line is no better and is in many ways much worse.  So our goal is to spend the next four years limiting the damage that these people have caused us, as best we can.

We will not be able to do a lot to stop this runaway freight train, but maybe we can slow it down, and maybe we can make sure that if anyone has to feel the pain this causes, that pain is visited on the people who caused it.  I don't have specifics on that point, but I do have the general solution. 

We oppose everything.

We use every available lever, every parliamentary trick, every delay tactic, everything we have at our disposal, to oppose this hateful agenda.

We use the courts and the court of public opinion.  We protest. We sue. We kick and scream and yell.  We rise up.  We say no, even if it's something we might like.

We make them earn everything.

Above all, we stay and fight, because this is our America, too, and we have a duty to save her.

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