Thursday, November 10, 2016


Obama has no choice but to normalize Trump.  He has to go through the rituals, in one of his last, but not the last, acts of decency in his presidency.  The rest of us are being asked to do the same, usually in the name of giving Trump room to succeed.  We are all supposed to wipe the slate clean, something which made sense in pretty much every election that has gone before, no matter how hard fought.  Soon the media, in order to keep their own wheels greased, will join Obama in asking us to normalize Trump.

But as citizens we can't, nor should we, wipe the slate clean or normalize Trump.

Trump is not Mitt Romney.  Nor is he John McCain.  Nor is he Obama, nor is he George W. Bush or John Kerry. 

Trump is exactly what he wishes to be: unique, an outlier, something that the country has never seen before. 

This has nothing to do with politics.  Only a fool believes this is a right-left thing or a Democratic/Republican thing, or anything akin to the Republicans assault on Obama when he took office, or when the Democrats thought they were ripped off by George W. Bush.  

Trump is unique and an outlier because he is the first fully blown fascist the United States has ever elected to the Presidency.  He is a monster of cruelty and indecency, and his arrival at the Presidency is one of the foulest deeds every perpetrated upon the American people and now, in this post World War II epoch, the rest of the planet.   

Nor is this about Trump's policies, such as they are.  There is many a Republican who espouses getting rid of Obamacare, rejigging the tax code in favor of the rich, suppressing minorities and rolling back Roe v. Wade.  That I could live with.   Half the country despised Richard Nixon but we went on, just as half the country was disgusted by Bill Clinton and went on. 

Again, Trump is different.  

It's not just that he's wholly unqualified for the job, or that he knows nothing of the history of the country, its traditions, beliefs, or its people, or even what he doesn't know; it's that Trump believes in suppression;  police brutality against those who disagree with him, and using the power of the Presidency to jail his enemies if not incite their murder.  

We have never seen the likes of this before.

So if it's not a Republican-Democrat or a right-left situation, where are we?  Well, simply put, I believe we have reached a point where one half of the country is pitted against the other. One half wants a basic liberal democracy officiated over by anyone who can deliver anything approximating same (Hillary Clinton if we have to have her, but John Kasich just as well, or Jeb Bush, or Joe Biden) and the other half wants a Strongman. 

My guess is that the people who voted for Trump don't know what a Strongman is.  This is what a Strongman is:

Mussolini was a Strongman, Adolph Hitler was a Strongman, Josef Stalin was a Strongman.  So were Pinochet and Papa Doc and Idi Amin.  History is littered with these lowlifes.  The United States, by virtue of its basic liberal culture and diversity in faiths, was usually deemed immune to Strongmen, but in the age of Twitter and Snapchat and a mainstream press that utterly fell down on the job (first Iraq, now Trump), it's clear that we aren't immune at all.  

The miserable part of all this is that, despite what everyone is going to tell you to do, we can't really afford the luxury of making peace with our neighbor and healing the wounds. The reason is that our neighbor probably voted for Trump, and if he voted for Trump, history tells us that he won't be paying attention when truly crazy Trump stuff starts to happen.   In fact, what history tells us is that if we all reach out to one another and "get back to normal", that's when the Strongman can really get away with serious stuff, because not only is no one watching, but no one wants to tear the fabric of their community and society apart again.

So once we normalize Trump and make peace with the folks who voted for Trump, who is going to take note and object when he finds a crisis that requires a State of Emergency, when he penalizes the press that rebukes him (Washington Post) and rewards those who support him (Fox); when he collects on the goodwill he's built up with the law enforcement officials he has so carefully cultivated (they who are so pissed off with the rest of us); when he really utilizes the awesome ability he has to communicate and connect with the TV-dumb masses, and when he settles finally on an Other who is responsible for our woes (thus far he has tried many: Hispanic, women, gay, Muslim, African-American, and, always reliably, Jew).

Once normalization takes place, we are going to be blinkered when any of these things come to pass, and I guarantee you they will come to pass in some way or other.  History tells us so.

I hate writing like this.  I wish I had the icy cold, level-headed optimism of an Obama as he greets Trump in the Oval Office with courtesy and deference.  I wish I could be that calm and sure that "America will never go that way" and that people like me are fringe voices in the internet wilderness.  But the problem is, Obama told us there was no way Trump was going to win the Republican nomination, and later, with great certainty, he said there was no way that he was going to win the Presidency.  Well, Obama was President of the United States, with access to all the intelligence that entails, and he got it wrong. The proof is the maniac standing in his office. 

So let Obama be the one to do the normalizing.   Let television news turn Trump into a charming, if odd, uncle. The rest of us have to keep our eye out, if only to preserve the standards that we used to believe the country stood for. 

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