Don’t talk to me about a nation unified under Donald Trump. Being conciliatory will not somehow make things better. I do not wish Trump well. At his inauguration, and throughout his presidency, I hope that people turn their backs on him, as a sign of disrespect.
It is not Trump’s politics that prompt this reaction, though I disagree with much of what he and his party stand for. It’s Trump.
The family business Trump ran was successfully sued by the federal government for excluding black tenants. He burst into national political prominence by peddling the racist lie that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. He called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” slandered a federal judge for his Mexican heritage, denigrated John McCain, insulted a Gold Star family, mocked a reporter with disabilities, urged his followers to violence, vowed to imprison his opponent, stoked an insurrection if he didn’t win, and was elected with the help of a hostile foreign government. He lies habitually and without compunction.
He boasted about sexually assaulting women. More than a dozen women came forward to credibly allege unwanted advances. His first wife, Ivana, stated under oath that he once ripped out handfuls of her hair and violently raped her, prompting one of Trump’s lawyers, in 2015, to offer this defense: “You cannot rape your spouse.”
The chances that Trump will ever merit respect are as remote as my coming home tonight to find monkeys playing banjos on my roof.
There is no equivalency—none—between my contempt for Donald Trump and the hatred many people feel toward Barack Obama. Only one is based on the content of the person’s character. Nothing in Obama’s personal conduct cried out for rebuke. Donald Trump is what he has always been: proudly ignorant and incurious, deceitful and mean, a bully to the core. His administration will be a long slog into inevitable blunders, embarrassments, and probably worse. Turning our backs on him before the eyes of the world is one way to save face.
Before the election, I said that if the people of this country elect Donald Trump, they deserve him. I take that back. Nobody deserves Donald Trump, not even his supporters. They are not all bigots, even if they support one. Some of them, I suppose, are good people. They just got hoodwinked by a lifelong con artist.
And, sooner or later, many of them are going to realize it.
Already, it is apparent that Trump’s promises will crash and burn. Mexico is not paying for the wall. Banning all Muslims from entering the country is too impractical to implement. We aren’t going to deport twelve million undocumented immigrants. Throwing twenty million people off Obamacare will not drive down health care costs. Tearing up the agreement to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons will not make the world safer. Torturing suspected terrorists and murdering their families will not curb terrorism. Denying climate change will not make it go away. Everything is not going to be so great that people won’t believe it.
A Trump presidency is not a lost cause, any more than the election of Hillary Clinton would have been a panacea. Our voices still need to be heard. But they must be voices of opposition—principled, nonviolent opposition.
Clinton and Obama have urged their supporters, and all Americans, to give Trump a chance. Bernie Sanders has said he’s willing to work with Trump. They’re right, up to a point. There are issues in this country that need addressing. If engaging with Trump and applying strategic pressure on him helps advance common goals, that’s what we should do.
But when Obama says that if Trump succeeds, “then the nation succeeds,” that’s bonkers. If Donald Trump succeeds in his depraved core agenda, millions of people will be hurt, the environment degraded, and our values as a nation defiled.
This is not a time for unity; it’s a time to fight.
Bill Lueders is Managing Editor of The Progressive.