Donald J. Trump is president-elect of the United States. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
Against all odds and against all forms of the establishment, he prevailed. He won, legitimately, including in many states that were thought to be safely blue. The pundits and the polls were wrong. There was more pent-up hunger for change – and also racial, ethnic and economic angst – than many models considered.
Trump will become this country’s 45th president. For me, it is a truly shocking fact, a bitter pill to swallow. I remain convinced that this is one of the worst possible people who could be elected president. I remain convinced that Trump has a fundamentally flawed character and is literally dangerous for world stability and injurious to America’s standing in that world.
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There is so much that I can’t fully comprehend.
It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.
Also, let me be clear: Businessman Donald Trump was a bigot. Candidate Donald Trump was a bigot. Republican nominee Donald Trump was a bigot. And I can only assume that President Donald Trump will be a bigot.
It is absolutely possible that America didn’t elect him in spite of that, but because of it. Consider that for a second. Think about what that means. This is America right now: throwing its lot in with a man who named an alt-right sympathizer as his campaign chief.
How can I make sense of the fact that the president appeared in pornos?
How can I make sense of the fact that the man who will appoint the next attorney general has himself boasted of assaulting women? What will this president’s vaunted “law and order” program for “inner cities” look like in an age where minority communities are already leery of police aggression?
How do I make sense of the fact that a man who attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage” will be the man who will nominate the next Supreme Court justice and scores of federal judges?
I can’t make it make sense because it doesn’t. I must sit with the absurdity of it.
I must settle this in myself in this way: I respect the presidency; I do not respect this president-elect. I cannot. Count me among the resistance.
I hope that there are areas where people in Washington can agree to actually advance America’s interests, but I’m doubtful. Trump has made multiple campaign promises, promises he will be obliged to keep, that would specifically do harm.
My thoughts are now with the immigrant families he has threatened to deport and the Muslims he has threatened to bar and the women he has demeaned and those he is accused of assaulting and the disabled whom he apparently has no problem mocking.
My thoughts are with the poor people afflicted by ill health who were finally able to receive medical insurance coverage, sometimes lifesaving coverage, and the fear they must feel now that there is a president committed to repealing and replacing it (with what, I don’t know), and who has a pliable Congress at his disposal.
When I think of all these people and then think of all the people who voted to make this man president – and those who didn’t vote, thereby easing the way for his ascension – I cannot help but feel some measure of anger. I must deal with that anger. I don’t want to wrestle it to the ground; I want to harness it.
I have spent much of my life and definitely much of my time writing this column championing the causes of vulnerable populations. That work only becomes more important now. Trump represents a clear and very present danger, and it is in the face of that danger that courage and truth are made more necessary and more perfect.
I strongly support and defend the peaceful transfer of power in this country and applaud the current administration for doing what is right and normal in America, what every prior departing administration has done: to make sure the transfer of power is as smooth as possible.
We need a Trump presidency to succeed to some degree – at least to have it do as little harm to the republic as possible – in order for America to remain safe, steady and strong during his tenure.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe Trump to be an abomination, but rather that I honor one of the hallmarks of our democracy and that I am an American interested in protecting America.
That said, it is impossible for me to fall in line behind an unrepentant bigot. It will be impossible for me to view this man participating in the pageantry and protocols of the presidency and not be reminded of how he is a demonstrated demagogue who is also a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and a bully.
That is not a person worthy of applause. That is a person who must be placed under unrelenting pressure. Power must be challenged, constantly. That begins today.