I occasionally disagree with Bill Maher—the political comedian who, throughout the past few months, generally made me feel less angry with his Friday evening Real Time assessments of the presidential campaign. This will be one of those times, though in fairness, he’s not the only one to offer the hypothesis that the Democrats demonized McCain and Romney so much during the last election cycles, that when we saw a real demon like Trump, we failed to convince anybody. We were, many claim, the party that cried wolf.
I understand the theory, but it removes too much responsibility from the individual voter who is supposed to be paying attention. It was no great trick this time: the billion dollars in free advertising the news networks supplied to Trump placed his face on TV screens almost continuously, and invariably in the worst possible light. Whether he was claiming never to have heard of David Duke and then perfunctorily disavowing him, or exhorting his gun-loving followers to “take care of” Hillary Clinton were she to win, we could not possibly have missed all the inflammatory and offensive—sometimes plainly vulgar—rhetoric.
No, this one’s on us. Almost half of all Americans felt no compunction about filling in the circle next to Trump’s name. We knew it wasn’t McCain or Romney—nor was there the risk of someone as completely unprepared as Sarah Palin or as ideologically myopic as Paul Ryan. This was Donald Trump— con-man and tax-evader, an adult male with the intellectual curiosity of limestone. America’s choice. The face we show to the world for the next four years.
And now that he has begun filling government positions with racist and bigoted cronies, we are beginning to get an inkling—not of how bad it is, but how bad it’s going to be. Trump has pegged as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser Flynn was fired from his post in the Defense Intelligence Agency for abusing his staff and ignoring policy directives. According to Colin Powell, Flynn is a right-wing nut.
Jeff Sessions was rejected for a judgeship by his own party due to racist comments. Sessions has no problem with the Ku Klux Klan, so why not make him our attorney general—as Trump wants to do.
Steve Bannon, the designated White House chief strategist has raised white supremacy, Islamophobia, and misogyny to new levels. He and Trump will have a rollicking good time.
In the wings lurk Giuliani, Christie, and others whose ethics lie just above those of a hyena.
What do we do while we’re registering shock and dismay? Register it as publicly as possible and make sure our local representatives are aware of these concerns. Street protests and boycotts never produce immediate results, but they work. And if the cast of Hamilton wants to mildly rebuke Mike Pence for his moronic beliefs, the last thing we should worry about is offending him or his handler.
Just as an aside—in a concert Saturday evening Kanye West performed three songs, spewed out a rant against Jay Z, Beyonce, Taylor Swift (of course), and others, then left the stage. You know, there was a time I would have considered such behavior too reprehensible and bizarre to believe. But lately, like you no doubt, I’ve been adjusting my expectations.