It’s been a wild 11 days, hasn’t it?
Donald Trump has been President of the United States for about a week and a half. Here’s what I think we’ve learned. He meant what he said while he was running. Like most Presidents, the ideas that animated his campaign are going to form his Presidential agenda. The new President is as infantile as ever, as thin-skinned and reactive. He responds to criticism badly, and resorts to childish name-calling on Twitter, just like he did when running. His campaign was a disorganized mess; his administrative style is similarly chaotic.
I had a friend who once told me of an experience he had when waterskiing. He did a lot of fancy tricks one day, and ended up with a lot of slack in the line, which somehow ended up around his leg. He watched the boat zipping away, saw the slack line tighten, and thought ‘that rope is going to break my leg.’ There was nothing he could do to prevent it; it was just going to happen. He said he felt rather calm. About two seconds later, of course, the rope did tighten, and it did break his leg. But he said the calm before that particular pain was quite remarkable.
That was us, three weeks ago. Now the rope has tightened, the bone has snapped, the pain is palpable. We’d be in mourning, but frankly, it hurts too much right now.
The latest move, of course, was the Muslim ban. Granted, it wasn’t officially a ‘Muslim ban.’ It was a temporary ban on people from seven Muslim-dominant countries–whose citizens have committed exactly zero terrorist attacks on US soil–entering the US. And so we got to see people with all the proper paperwork, people who have been vetted and approved and authorized, denied entry into our country. Including a five-year-old Iranian kid, in handcuffs. Kept from his Mom for eight hours. This executive order came without warning. Airport officials had no idea what was going on, and were forced to improvise, without instructions, which of course went about as well as we might have supposed.
Yes, it’s not officially a ban on Muslims. Just on people from certain countries. Except, on Sunday morning, when White House spokestroll Sean Spicer was defending it on ABC News, they cut to the President calling it a Muslim ban. That’s one thing about Trump; he’s undisciplined enough that sometimes he’ll get away from his staff’s carefully defined talking points. Of course, an hour later, he lied about it; that’s also part of the Trump modus operandi. A brief moment of candor, then back to the lying.
Lots of people, by the way, have pointed out that countries like Iran and Iraq, which have not attacked the US, were on the list, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which did, weren’t on it. Leading to this thought; Trump has business interests in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He singled out countries that haven’t attacked us, where he has no financial stake, and let countries that have attacked us go unmentioned. Because the Trump organization’s bottom line is at stake? What that a consideration? We don’t know; maybe not. But that’s the tricky thing about conflicts of interest. They poison everything.
Meanwhile, the optics have been amazing. A whole bunch of people went to American airports to show their solidarity with people stuck in this weird, unnecessary, Trumpian legal limbo. It was topsy-turvy; Kennedy Airport was the positive center of attention! People were cheering . . . Muslims! And lawyers! People were cheering for lawyers!
And suddenly, Sally Yates, a woman none of us had ever heard of two days ago is an American liberal heroine.
It’s been great. People are energized; excited. First the Women’s March, now this. Our leg bone may be shattered, but we’re still limping around, defiant and unafraid.
So protest. March. Shout. Carry banners. All that’s great. But 2018 is looming, and none of this energy will matter at all unless we take back the House and Senate. Did you join the Women’s March? Awesome. Two years from now, though, we’re going to need you to vote, and to bring five friends with you. We have passion on our side, we have right on our side, we have morality on our side. We can and must oppose Trump, everywhere. Cut him no slack at all, on anything, ever. I’m for all of that.
What we don’t have is power. That boat is zipping away, and its driver can’t hear us. Passion declines; energy dissipates. It’s been an amazing 11 days. Just two more years to go.