It’s impossible to get one’s head around the continuing series of outrages and embarrassments. The President-elect declaring that the won a “landslide,” when of course that’s a lie and everyone knows he just squeaked by. The President-elect telling China that the United States doesn’t want its sea-going drone back, and he’s not even in office. The President-elect’s selection of a climate change denied to head the EPA. If one thinks this is bad so far, the horror hasn’t even started. The sick feeling that most of the country feels right now must be what it’s like to be a passenger in a plane that’s lost control and is diving to destruction; or maybe it’s the sick feeling of being a passenger in a plane that’s been hijacked and you know it’s being flown into a building, intent on destroying itself and democracy, because that’s what’s happened. Is happening. Will continue to happen for the foreseeable future.
So how do we react? The realists among us will see that we are headed toward doom, but if we care about our country, we will do whatever we can do to fight against this destruction, even if we believe that the fight will be helpless. When the historians of one hundred years hence look back at how American democracy – how the United States itself – came to an end, I will want them to see that there were those of us who did not accept this sitting down.
But there also those among us for whom the impending horror is so overwhelming that they cannot accept its reality. There are those of us who still dream that this can be put right somehow. If, for example, as I’ve been told, we only talk to those Trump supporters and listen to their real concerns and establish a dialog, why then we might achieve a better understanding and head the country in a less dangerous direction. I do not assert moral blame to those who reason this way, because their fear does not allow them to see things as they really are. When it is too terrible to realize that one’s country is falling down around one, that one is personally in danger from the white supremacists and the anti-Semites and the Confederate-flag wavers, one imagines something different. One needs to keep reality at bay so as not to go crazy. I can understand that reaction, but, sadly, this failure to perceive and admit the truth is the same kind of failure that led so many people to doubt that Donald Trump could gain the Republican nomination, let alone win the election.
I will try to say it clearly. There are two types of Trump supporters. There are those who believe his lies and agree with his message of hatred, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, and there are those who are willing to tolerate these lies and traits in the hope of some other personal goal that they feel Trump’s presidency will advance. If there is a moral line between these two groups, that line is vague at best, but for me the two groups are equally evil and dangerous. What’s the difference, frankly, between the thug who paints a swastika on a synagogue, for example, and his neighbor who is willing to look the other way? What’s the difference, frankly, between the Republican-controlled county zoning board that denies a permit for a mosque on specious, religiously-biased reasons and the voters who put them in office? There’s no difference, not really.