Feelings, and politics

In several recent posts, it’s possible that I have been mildly critical of our new President-elect. This failing has been helpfully pointed out to me by some of my Republican friends, who have suggested that it’s time to support our new President, the election being over. “Get over it,” would be the main thrust of their argument. Also “stop whining.”

And so I found myself wondering this: what exactly do Trump supporters want? I mean, I remember 2009. I remember how annoying it was when those sore losers who didn’t like Barack Obama kept insisting that they never, ever, would regard him as their President. They were being sore losers, I thought. Expressing sour grapes. What on earth was wrong with those people? And now I am one of them. Mr. Sore Loser Sour Grapes Man.

I absolutely intend to support Donald Trump’s Presidency in all the ways that are required of me. I will pay my taxes, and I will fulfill the other obligations of American citizenship. In those respects, I fully intend to ‘support’ Donald Trump.

But I don’t think that’s enough for my Trump-supporting friends. For many of them, they don’t just want passive acquiescence. They want us to feel something. They want us to be okay with his electoral win. They want us to set aside our policy differences with the man, and, at least passively, accept him as President. That’s why Congressman and Civil Rights hero John Lewis’ comments questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s victory stung so sharply. That’s exactly what we’re not supposed to do.

In short, Trump supporters want me to feel the same way about Trump that we felt about previous Presidents we didn’t vote for. And I don’t, and won’t. Not now, not ever. And this isn’t just sour grapes or being a sore loser. I cannot and will not normalize his election victory. We don’t know how closely the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin cooperated during the election, or the degree to which Russian hacking contributed to the result, but we do know now that the answer to both those questions is, at least, ‘somewhat.’  Did Russian hacking influence 1% of the voters’ decisions? Less? 1/2%? 1/4? We don’t know, and will never know, but the answer clearly was a sum somewhere above zero. We cannot and should not normalize that kind of behavior.

It’s more than that. Trump did not run as a normal, usual sort of candidate. All previous recent presidential candidates released their tax returns, or at least some of their tax returns; Trump kept putting the press off with some bogus nonsense about an audit, and now Trump’s people say his tax returns will remain off-limits, forever, because. Trump lies. He lies all the time, stupid, easy to catch lies, about, for example, whether he said things he was captured on camera saying. His appeal as a candidate was his unorthodoxy. And that’s fine; it was an effective strategy and it worked. Americans were, apparently, enthusiastic about ‘change.’ But he said and did offensive things, then attacked people who found his language and conduct beyond the pale as being, absurdly, ‘politically correct.’ Just as he now labels news organizations that criticize him ‘fake news,’ and ‘liars.’

He wants us to feel okay about him being President. And I don’t, can’t, won’t, never will.

Which is why the two biggest news stories recently were so heartening. The first was the spectacular success of the Women’s March on Washington, and the complementary protests that took place all across the country. My Facebook page was flooded with images of old friends gathering in protest and celebration. Protesting, not just Trump, but Trumpism; his authoritarianism and racism and misogyny, his full-throated embrace of white male privilege. But also celebrating our view of America, our version of America, an America where greatness is determined by inclusion and toleration and compassion. The energy of the Women’s March could fuel a renewed commitment to progressive ideals. It could also dissipate, become a wasted and empty gesture. We’ll see. I hope that doesn’t happen, though.

At least a lot of people showed up. And a lot more came to the Women’s March than came to Trump’s Inauguration. And so, the utterly surreal experience of the campaign was amplified, with Trump surrogates forced to pretend that more people celebrated Trump’s inauguration than actually were there. Culminating in the absurd declaration that obvious falsehoods weren’t really lies, they were ‘alternative truths.’

Feelings are powerful. Great political rhetoric can sway crowds, get policies enacted, start wars. And while it may not be polite to say so, no, I do not feel warm fuzzies at the Trump inauguration. Not in any way. And I intend to spend the next four years watching him like a hawk. We don’t like him, we don’t trust him, we don’t respect him. We don’t think his Presidency is legitimate, and we think it’s quite possible that he won the Presidency through acts of high treason. That’s how we feel about this President. I don’t wish him ill personally. I will try to muster some common decency in regards to his family. Otherwise, he’s not my President. Never never never.

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