‘Just give him a chance,’ they say.
The craven rush by the Democrats to insist that the nation should take a wait and see approach to the Trump Administration is disgraceful, cowardly, and repulsive — all the more so because it is being put into sharp contrast by words from people like Senator Harry Reid and the California State Assembly. The desire for a peaceful transfer of power has been confused with the belief that in order to accomplish that transfer, the nation must collectively roll over, pretend to be starting with a ‘clean state’ (the Huffington Post, pathetic excuse for a news outlet that it is, even erased their standard Trump disclaimer on articles and justified it with the claim that it was necessary to start things on even footing).
Peaceful transitions between presidential administrations have indeed been a key component of US democracy, but it is not necessary to enable bigotry and hatred in the process. With the GOP taking over the federal government and holding gains in many states, as well, the Democrats — as effectively the sole opposition in our de facto two party system — have a moral and ethical obligation to take a stance against intolerance. When people talk about feeling betrayed by Democrats and self-avowed liberals, this is an example of why.
What advocates for ‘just give him a chance’ are missing here is that this is not about simple political disagreements. It’s not that people don’t support Trump’s policy priorities or that they have concerns about his stance on a number of key pieces of legislation — though they certainly do, and a man who has vowed to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, shut down the EPA, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and engage in a rampant swath of destruction across the US policy landscape should certainly be cause for worry. It would in fact be both appropriate and legitimate for Democrats to signal to the electorate that they are aware of these problems and intend to work to combat them. Certainly the electorate is aware, judging from the tide of protest pouring across the United States.
But what the Democrats are doing is far more sinister, and it’s important to accurately label it as what it really is, which is collaboration. In the days since the election, hate crimes have spiked in the United States. Swastikas and racist graffiti are littering overpasses, businesses, vehicles. People are reporting arson and beatings, harassment ranging from tearing a woman’s hijab off to attacking a woman for using American Sign Language in a coffeehouse to grabbing women by the crotch and calling them ‘cunts.’ Trump appointed an actual Nazi to his transition team. People of color in the United States are living in a heightened state of fear, never knowing when a simple bus ride is going to end in a torrent of racial epithets while white passengers stand impassively by.
This is not about policy. This is about ideology. What is happening in the United States right now is happening because this is a country with a deeply-entrenched history of racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and disablism. But it is also happening because these deep currents of hatred have been enabled, vindicated, boosted, heightened by the Trump campaign, which was founded on that hatred and rode to victory on a wave of vile, deplorable people. People who called that out during the election were punished for it and in a post-Trump landscape, all of their worst fears have been brought to life.
Perhaps historically, transfers of power between conflicting administrations — like the Bush and Obama administrations — were a bit fraught and challenging, but they were ultimately grounded in the knowledge that both sides had a fundamental desire to protect the integrity of the United States, and that both wanted what is best for America. They may have disagreed on what that was, but President Barack Obama never spent over a decade screaming at President George W. Bush about his birth certificate. President Barack Obama wasn’t on record making crude comments about nearly every social group imaginable, nor had a slew of women come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and assault. President Obama didn’t have a racketeering trial scheduled within weeks of the election. President Obama’s campaign wasn’t built on a team of staff and surrogates who reveled in building two Americas — a white, wealthy, privileged one, and then one for the rest. President Obama didn’t vow to immediately repeal all of President Bush’s executive orders, or pledge to eradicate civil rights from the US landscape, or profess a plan to overturn landmark Supreme Court decisions.
In the past year, as Donald Trump went from laughingstock to mildly alarming to deeply worrying to president-elect, this election proved itself to be unique, a war not just of policy questions but of deep, fundamental ideological divides. Now the Democrats tell us that we’re being divisive and ought to give Trump some credit and be nice to people who have opted to work with his administration — after spending months correctly noting that he is a monstrous human being with disastrous plans for America.
I do not need to give Trump a chance. I do not need to have sympathy and understanding for the poor, oppressed white people from middle to high income brackets who turned out in droves to support him. He had his chance during the election and if people think that being elected will somehow change him, they clearly understand little of human nature and even less of Donald Trump. This is the time to fight, to coordinate, to figure out how best to stave off the horrors that Donald Trump is about to unleash on America. It is not the time to make nice with people who want to kill us, and let’s be clear: Donald Trump has plainly indicated that he would vastly prefer that a huge swath of the country simply not exist.
Many Americans will be making tough choices about who they want to spend time with and how they want to invest their energies in coming months. That likely includes cutting off friends and family who out themselves as passengers on the Trump train, as it’s hard to imagine sharing a holiday table with someone who supports a man that thinks you should be eliminated, unless you have a shocking degree of privilege and rest confident in the likely mistaken belief that Trump’s policies will never touch you. Why, when we are encouraging people to protect themselves by cutting off hateful individuals in their lives, would we then tell them to embrace the most hateful of all?
No one needs to give Trump, or his supporters, a chance. They’ve shown their true colours and those who don’t trust or want to associate with them have good reason to do. May we have more Harry Reids and fewer Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warrens who turn tail and pledge to work with Trump, repeating the false rhetoric that this election was about class rage, not racism, in the coming months, because the people with the integrity to speak out now are the ones who deserve our respect — not the president-elect, and certainly not the people who have smoothly rolled over for him without a second thought.
Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund/Creative Commons