Last week a friend said that while he couldn’t ignore the political climate of the country—the Trumpian swing toward authoritarianism—he could make a choice of whom to spend time with. “Like-minded people,” he said. “People who share my values.”
We didn’t hear much about values during the Trump campaign; in fact, he generally denigrated them, referring to them condescendingly as political correctness and thus condoning such “niceties” as grabbing women’s crotches and publicly shaming Gold Star parents. Sixty-two million Americans voted for him, leading me to conclude that their values are his. That’s 62 million people that I don’t consider like-minded, and although I cannot avoid them, and although I realize that we are more than whom we vote for—we aren’t that much more. If we throw in with a misogynistic and xenophobic abuser of women, that puts us in the same basket.
Some will criticize my position: they’ll maintain that it constitutes a kind of exclusivity that cannot lead to any kind of harmonious mending of fences but will instead further the distance between the factions.
To which I say, so what?
It has become increasingly evident these past few weeks that there really isn’t any common ground, any place for compromise. And as for harmony, Santa and Amazon take note: those who voted for Donald Trump because they just wanted to “blow things up” have pretty much eliminated harmony, agreement, and compromise from their wish lists. (You can probably add world peace and individual freedom to that list of the missing.) Moreover, the puerile and bizarre behavior of Mr. Trump after he won has proven that the people who voted for him got exactly what they wanted. They aren’t looking to compromise—they’re fine exactly where they are. They don’t need my rebuke, and I don’t need whatever it is they’re peddling.
Even those of us on the losing side of the election (but the right side of history) who said initially “let’s give him a chance,” have long since retreated from that possibility, especially since Trump, even from a position of power, continues to demand that we debate facts. Policy is one thing—Americans have always argued over the advisability of war, of certain economic plans, of abortion, the death penalty, etc. But Trump, his caretakers, his adherents, and his lackeys keep asking us to debate what we already know: (1) the Trump-math version of the popular vote totals, (2) his landslide victory in the Electoral College, (3) the non-interference of Russia. Those aren’t matters for debate, not any more—not ever.
(1) Trump is losing the popular vote by almost three million! He did better than Rutherford B. Hayes and John Quincy Adams. (In 1824 nobody won a majority.) But he didn’t fare as well as James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, or Barack Obama—twice. Sad.
(2) In the Electoral College, assuming a party-line vote, his 56.9% will surpass Nixon and Kennedy and George W. Bush twice. But if you want to talk about landslides, Ronald Reagan averaged 94% of the electors’ votes in 1980 and 1984. Trump’s tainted victory isn’t even impressive. Sad.
(3) Putin feared Hillary Clinton and Trump asked him before a national audience to help him out. Treasonous, oh yeah, and sad.
These aren’t items for debate—they never were—and I won’t waste my time trying to prove that to the people who presented this ill-prepared game-show host with the keys to the White House. I like to think the day will arrive when his supporters will concede their mistake, but my faith in that is pretty shaky. Until then, if there is a then, I choose to spend my time in the company of all those like-minded people my friend mentioned, especially during the holidays when terms like peace on earth and good will toward men fly in the face of everything Trump represents.
But if there’s one positive, it’s that the majority of Americans didn’t vote for him: like-minded people should be easy to find.