Dealing with Trump

I’m posting this list of suggestions for dealing with the election of Donald Trump not because I think anyone would listen, not because I think anyone should listen (I can certainly be written off as a cisgendered guy of some limited success, none of which is in the political realm, and a bit of a loner not suited to organizing), but because I need to get these things out of my system, and posting them as individual responses to individual posters will merely create friction, generating more heat than light.

First off, don’t try to tell people it’s going to be “all right”.

Even if you believe that the upcoming administration is not going to deliver on most of its promises, there are a large number of them, any one of which could be disastrous, even deadly, for people, either immediately or in the long term. Whether its the person who loses the health insurance that was keeping them alive or the future humans suffering from the long-term environmental damage of rolling protections back, this is not “all right”.

(Saying “America will survive” also misses the point, as it puts the continued existence of an abstract political entity ahead of the people such an entity is intended to serve. America survived during slavery, lynching, internment camps. That should not be seen as a victory.)

Having said that, we should also not treat every goal the President-elect stated during his candidacy and every horrible outcome we can imagine as a done deal.

Not everything will happen, and this is not just because we’re dealing with a man who had a history of not following up on promises even before he became a politician. Yes, the one party controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, with a balanced Supreme Court with an opening, looks intimidating. However,

  1. The Republican party is not monolithic. It has people within it who believe strongly in some core conservative principles, and some who are simply hungry for power, and many who balance the two in varying degrees. While the party was good at unifying the votes in recent years, that was when the goal was to gain power by cutting power from the Democrats. That goal has been achieved, and thus is now gone. More inner dissent, both from those who feel freer to hold to principles and those who see that the fight to gain personal power means a battle within the party, is likely.
  2. The Party does not fully control the Senate. Even when monolithic, they don’t have the 60 vote supermajority needed to get many things done.
  3. Even the conservatives on the Supreme Court are not unified administration thralls. Getting five conservatives on the court does not mean the Republicans win everything they bring there. In particular, Chief Justice Roberts seems independent of the political tides. That does not mean that every division of where federal control ends or what can be mandated will fall in your preferred way, but it should at least prevent some of the more egregious efforts to roll back first amendment protections for the press or government targeting of individuals on the basis of religion.

Yelling at people about who they voted for seems not only unlikely to help, but counterproductive.

People are unable to rescind their votes (or lack thereof) at this point. It may feel cathartic, but it is likely to make the target of your attack defensive, more likely to shut you out and make their support for the administration something that is part of their identity that they have to defend.

At this point, the question in play is not “Trump?”, as that has already been answered in the affirmative, and is not likely to be revisited for four years. Instead, the question is a series of policies that can and should be individually addressed. The folks who voted for Trump largely do not think he is flawless (as the many votes against him in even the Republican primaries shows.) The final vote was between him and another, not-flawless candidate. You can put forth arguments against various individual policies as the issue at hand (“stop-and-frisk is a bad thing because…” “we need trade agreements because…”) without it seeming like a blanket attack on Trump and everyone who voted for him (even if you understandably have such blanket feelings.)

Do not knee-jerk reject everything that Trump may support just because Trump supports it.

If he declares it National Be Nice To Puppies Day, don’t start kicking the puppies. Acting like that will make it hard for people to take your legitimate objections to policies seriously. Do not call for your Senator to try to auto-block everything Trump may support. This does not mean give Trump the default benefit of the doubt, the man’s tendencies should at least cause you to question everything… just take the time to answer that question.

(Yes, the simple shutting-down-anything-Obama-supported seemed to work for Republicans, but the Republicans had very different goals; there’s a significant portion of them for whom stopping the government from functioning is at least a reasonable if rough description of their goals. And I would like to hope that the ultimate goal of most of the people reading this is not to serve to grant the Democratic Party power, but to serve to do good for the American people… for which Democratic power may well serve better than Republican power, but that power should always be recognized as a means, not an end.)

The fact that Trump has walked back a stance does not mean that we no longer have to worry about it. Flips in one direction can be undone by flops in the other. If he’s no longer talking about, say, registering Muslims, he is still the person who is quite capable of thinking that’s a good idea. And trying to shame Trump out of anything seems to be a misreading of the man.

It is very easy to keep one’s eyes solely on the federal level, particularly in this social media world, where the federal thing is the one thing that everyone is talking about. However, a lot of what might be achieved/needed will be at the state level. For one thing, many of the changes that one might worry about are in Federal requirements that states act in a certain way. For example, they are less likely to simply make same-sex marriage illegal than they are to get a realigned Supreme Court to rule that states are not required to offer or recognize such marriages… in which case, it is the laws in each state that will control the situation. Or for voting problems: gerrymandering is done on the state level, voter ID laws are on the state level.

Building alliances almost by definition means accepting people whose focus or methodology may be different from yours. As long as they’re pulling in the same general direction, they’re on your side. Allow them some room to be who they are. Do not discount the energy of the youth nor the gained knowledge of the old. (I got to watch both the shock of the young who didn’t think the bad times could come, and the sadness of the old who know to well what those times look like. There are good hearts in a bad moment on both ends of that spectrum.)

If you must err, err to the side of love… whatever that means in the moment.

I could be wrong with all of this, probably am with some of it. But it’s the best I can do.
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Published in: on November 15, 2016 at 6:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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