|Who is this man and what can he teach us|
about dealing with the Donald?
It’s not just Hillary Clinton voters – 2.8 million more than her opponent, easily matching the 2% national edge suggested earlier in national polls. With every expansion of his cabinet of Caligulas, with threats to core expectations about old age security, the environment, health care and public education, the unhappiness is now spreading among the free riders -- the 42% of eligible citizens who did not exercise their right to vote. I don’t have to call out “shame on them” because events are doing just that.
The dilemma is, how in the US do any of us proceed? Many are simply not ready for the collegiality, respect of the Constitution and reliance on giving the new president a chance embodied by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
For those leaning that way, Trump stepped on them with his rambling obfuscations.
From his New York Tower he is hurling cross-punches of cabinet choices and rally revels (denying these are plutocrat picks to the crowds, ignoring the crassness with which he fakes one way then lands on an extremist in the end).
|The comically prescient Aptil 27 cartoon from the New Yorker|
and a profile of the author behind it tinyurl.com/hwrqsod
To the constant cries of “You lost, we won, get over it,” most of the country seems not getting over it and not about to, sour grapes aside. They lump the folks who are happy about this state of affairs with degenerates from the 19th century who can’t face up to a modern multicultural America.
The “get over it” trolls don’t yet grasp the fear and dismay because many live in a fantasy world where it’s okay for Trump not to release his taxes or falsely claim three million noncitizens voted against him. Stuck in irrationality, they may never understand.
Now comes the likelihood that Russia was committing cyberwar to assure Trump’s success and even holding back on what it knew about the Republicans. That’s deeply disturbing even without knowing if the efforts were decisive. It’s even more disturbing that Trump and his trollops deny it happened. Recent polls do indicate some 60% of those who voted for Trump believe the exact opposite of the facts about unemployment, the economy, foreign interference and much more.
How do you fight a shape shifter? Some feel overwhelmed, as if America was under constant barrage. Many don’t have the courage to go to the mattresses in a street war – Trump after all is not yet the Mafia. Some can’t find a good system to respond and others feel torn between the respect for peaceful transition demonstrated by Obama and their anger that the very strengths of America (openness, belief in an exchange of ideas, trust among opposite parties) have been used to shatter our expectations. It’s no longer about a Clinton robbed of victory, but belief that Trump succeeded in large part by appealing to our most ignorant and most fallen angels.
And yet, you have to concede that some people had legitimate reasons to oppose Clinton and an understandable longing to wipe away the smug grins on the left. You have to acknowledge that genuine appeal for change played a role even while fearing that dupes and dumbness are the real victors. How do you balance all that and keep a fire for survival alive in your bosom – for four frightening years? Is constant rebellion wise or productive?
We’re already seeing the fallout of internal conflict among Trump opponents, including Republicans. Some 20 groups are organizing protest marches around Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration in D.C., a big march of women for the day after. Currently clearance for their licenses to protest are hung up awaiting Trump’s inaugural committee to release details of how they will create a “fabulous” show though so many name performers are refusing to participate.
(First small irony, the performers who won’t cooperate with Trump are slowing the process for the millions who also want to signal defiance.)
Yet that’s not the big news. It’s how many people who dislike Trump say these rallies and the online petitions are a waste of time. You’ve surely heard that doubt or seen that shrug about efforts to return the Electoral College slates to their original purpose (a corrective when the voters lose their way) and about efforts to make the winner of the popular vote the president, like all the other civilized democracies do. It is, after all, the second time in 16 years the popular vote has been ignored and this one is the biggest, clearest margin in history where the will of the people has been abandoned.
But even serious haters of Trump are asking “what’s the point?” These protests are simply gnats of annoyance not focused on specifics, they say. Remember how even recent mass protests focused on a specific – millions who marched against the war with Iraq and are only now acknowledged to have been correct – were dismissed by the media and the public in Bush’s era, demonstrating to many cynics how sophistication and hesitation about methods prevent enduring impact in the media or among the targets.
Well, let’s explore that. There was an interesting moment recently when Rep. John Lewis’ third memoir won the National Book Award – the first time a graphic novel broke through to the top.
|John Lewis before protests succeeded|
Look at those mug shots. Badges of honor.
|Another set of Lewis police profiles.|
|John Lewis today|
“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.”
Many citizens have an ill-defined moral objection to Donald Trump. It’s like what a noted Republican justice said about pornography. You can’t define it, but you know it when you see it.
But now it can’t be about a phantom menace Trump. It has to be a more watchful vigilance and an intelligent reaction rather than just general distress. His methods look horrible and actually a reversal of what he promised crowds during the election but actually he’s done nothing but threaten. It’s which Trump emerges from the White House and what fights selectively can be raised against his largely objectionable team of advisers (assuming he will ever listen to any of them).
The issue was framed in a New York Times opinion piece: “Those who can will need to speak out boldly and suffer possible retaliation.”
Yet marches around his January 20 inaugural are being waved off by some progressives as simply a satisfying blowing off of steam. I don’t agree, because there can be messages in millions, particularly if the pool of motivated then divides up to face particular threats to their core beliefs. Trump may try but can’t dismiss the millions who assemble in general alarm and then unify around specific dragons.
The lessons of John Lewis suggest there is a moral power that can resonate even into the gold-leaf chambers of Trump Tower.