While running for president, Donald Trump behaved like a creep.
He demonized immigrants, insulted women, marginalized Latinos, savaged rivals, attacked reporters, mocked the disabled, threatened hecklers and even blamed former President George W. Bush for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
It’s no wonder that, a month after the election, some Americans detest the president-elect more than ever.
We need to get over it. Election night changed everything. If Trump fails, the nation will falter.
“Never Trump” people like me have to decide which is stronger – our hatred of Trump, or our love for this country.
I’ll go with love of country. And so, despite pressure from friends on the left to reflexively oppose everything that Trump does for the next four years as illegitimate and destructive, I’m going to give creep a chance.
It was a short walk. There were some good things about Trump’s White House bid.
Of course, there were also things that were very bad. Trump referred to Mexican immigrants – like my own grandfather – as rapists and criminals. He displayed vulgar language and predatory behavior toward women and refused to apologize. The list goes on.
Nonetheless, Trump did do some things right. He challenged the media, eschewed political correctness, self-funded his campaign, confounded the elites, crushed the GOP establishment and tapped into the concerns of working-class Americans who feel that the centers of wealth and power – New York and Washington – are plotting against them.
Trump also has valuable personal traits that the media and the political class will never give him credit for having, including what turned out to be a gift for understanding human nature. He seemed to know how we were going to react to things before we even had a chance to react. A brilliant pitchman, he knows how to sell us things before we even know we need them.
Meanwhile, the unfair media coverage of Trump’s campaign has morphed into negative reporting about his transition and kneejerk criticism of his Cabinet picks. For instance, supposedly, it’s disqualifying that Betsy DeVos – Trump’s choice for Education Secretary – has never taught students.
Since when is that the standard? In 1993, the teachers’ unions that have helped ruin public education gave high marks to Bill Clinton’s first Education Secretary, Richard Riley, who had been the governor of South Carolina but hadn’t worked in the classroom. Where’s the consistency?
Let’s be honest. Some parts of the president-elect’s most recent act – Trump in Transition – have been impressive. Trump was smart to dump Chris Christie as head of the transition and replace him with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. It was also wise to select retired Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary, retired Gen. John Kelly as homeland security secretary, Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary. Another shrewd move was to broaden the list of contenders for secretary of state beyond apparent front-runner Mitt Romney to include several talented individuals, any one of whom would be a good choice – while appearing to sideline Rudy Giuliani, who wouldn’t be. We still have no idea what kind of job Trump will do as president, but he is pretty good at surrounding himself with competent people.
Many Americans seem to agree. A new Bloomberg Politics poll finds that, post-election, Trump’s favorability rating has jumped to 50 percent, up from 33 percent in August.
Above all, we really need to stop questioning each other’s motives. The election is behind us. I don’t want to spend the next four years looking askew at my friends, neighbors and relatives who voted for Trump because allegedly they’re closet racists and “deplorables” who tremble at the future and want to return to the good ol’ days when white people ran everything.
As we should have learned over the last month, there are plenty of sound reasons that people voted for Trump, and against Hillary Clinton, that had nothing to do with racism, sexism, white nationalism or any other -ism.
Critics will say this is all part of some grand conspiracy to “normalize” Trump. That is the new n-word being tossed around by the left to avoid having to make sense of what just happened. It’s absurd.
I have bad news. There is no need to “normalize” Donald Trump. That already happened – when he was elected president.
Contact Ruben Navarrette at firstname.lastname@example.org.