Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
If you are an elected official, party leader, or pundit who spent the last four months shouting about how Trump was not a normal candidate, that he was an existential threat, and an actual fascist — but yesterday got in front of a mic to moralize about “uniting behind our president” and how “we” can “work with him,” just sit down. That attitude makes you useless in the fight ahead.
Let’s do Trump one single, small courtesy, the only one he deserves: Let’s assume that when he promises to do something, he plans to do it.
Let’s assume when Trump says, “I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal,” and that he will “lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward,” he fucking means it. (And let’s accept what science says will happen when that carbon hits the air.)
Let’s assume that when Trump says he will “cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities” and “begin removing the more than 2 million” people in this country, he means it, and people we know are going to start disappearing.
Let’s just assume that ObamaCare will be toast, because Trump and the Congress he’ll be working with said it will be.
And, oh yeah, let’s just assume that when Trump expressed his contempt for women, incited hatred for a free press, and encouraged the scapegoating of immigrants and brown people — yeah, he meant that, too.
The difference between the calls for unity between 2008 and today can’t be overstated. In 2008, Republicans resisted that call to unity based on conspiracy theories and attributing some unspoken, “take your guns and eat your babies” agenda to President Obama that differed from his spoken words, to put it mildly. The resistance to unity this time from Democrats and other progressives and the crazy-sounding scenarios we say we fear exist because we are quoting the actual promises of Donald Trump; the pushback we’re getting on the right and these weak-tea sellouts on the left is a maddening assurance that he won’t do half of what he promised — and continues to promise — to do.
When a guy tells you he’s going to stab you once he picks up a knife, and then he picks up the knife, you better react like he’s about to stab you.
The worst attacks on women’s rights, on people of color, on Muslims, on the climate — these things are coming. Trump got ahold of the knife. It’s in his hand.
Normalizing him won’t save you. Citing norms of presidential behavior won’t save you. Stop soothing everyone and help them get ready to defend themselves.
We have the fight of our lives on our hands right now. This is not a question about whether we’ll hope RomneyCare works almost as well as Obamacare. This is about whether we are going to sit by while millions of people get deported, or targeted by bigoted laws, or have their land and water and air defiled and seized by rapacious fossil fuel companies. Whether we are going to give one last, worthy effort to save the future from catastrophic climate change, or caricature ourselves by removing all the protections from public lands and belch enough carbon into the air to turn out the lights on our biosphere.
We are in an ambiguous moment between campaign rhetoric and governance, but this moment is critical. Right now, the behind-the-scenes work of the transition is taking place. Trump and his organization are choosing who will head federal agencies, and staffing, in those cases, is policy. They are also deciding their priorities for executing that first 100 days agenda. In that time period, the *worst* thing you can do for your fellow Americans is to sing, “Kumbaya,” and pretend we are in normal times. We need to be baring our fangs and rolling up our sleeves and making sure they know they have a fight on their hands if they try to implement their agenda and that we plan to make it hurt.
We aren’t in normal times. We aren’t about to have a normal presidency. The ship just hit the iceberg. A “leader” who tells people to rearrange the chairs and make sure the band keeps playing is going to get people killed. Don’t go back below deck when the soothing voice tells you everything is fine. It’s not.
This is game time. Act like it, or go sit down.