774 Keep up the Rage
A few blogs ago (blog 750) I
wrote about the recurring nightmare of waking up in the middle of the night and
realizing it was not a nightmare, it is reality: Trump will be the next
president of the USA.
These days that
nightmare is replaced by a dream, an unrealistic one nonetheless: Every night I
eagerly turn on the World News ... and I hope it opens with a sensation: A
solution has been found to prevent Trump becoming president … alas, this
dream is illusionary, even delusional; it will not happen (see the article
below). I can only guess how sensible Americans feel about this; how can
they get up in the morning? How do they not go mental? How do they manage to not jump
from a tall building?
Methinks this story of president-elect Trump is the
greatest enigma of our time.
is an article from the New York Times about the subject matter, the message
is: Keep up the Rage. (Here's more, blog 761)
The tainted election: How Donald Trump won is horrifying
Paul Krugman, New York Times
The CIA, according to The
Washington Post, has now determined that hackers working for the Russian
government worked to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump. This has actually
been obvious for months, but the agency was reluctant to state that conclusion
before the election out of fear that it would be seen as taking a political
Meanwhile, the FBI
went public 10 days before the election, dominating headlines and TV coverage
across the country with a letter strongly implying that it might be about to
find damning new evidence against Hillary Clinton - when it turned out,
literally, to have found nothing at all.
Did the combination of
Russian and FBI intervention swing the election? Yes. Clinton lost three states
- Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania - by less than a percentage
point, and Florida by only slightly more. If she had won any three of those
states, she would be president-elect. Is there any reasonable doubt that Putin /
Comey made the difference?
And it wouldn't have
been seen as a marginal victory, either. Even as it was, Clinton received
almost 3 million more votes than her opponent, giving her a popular margin
close to that of George W. Bush in 2004.
So this was a tainted
election. It was not, as far as we can tell, stolen in the sense that votes
were counted wrong, and the result won't be overturned. But the result was
nonetheless illegitimate in important ways; the victor was rejected by the
public, and won the electoral college only thanks to foreign intervention and
grotesquely inappropriate, partisan behaviour on the part of domestic law
The question now is
what to do with that horrifying knowledge in the months and years ahead.
One could, I suppose,
appeal to the president-elect to act as a healer, to conduct himself in a way
that respects the majority of Americans who voted against him and the fragility
of his electoral college victory. Yeah, right. What we're actually getting are
wild claims that millions of people voted illegally, false assertions of a
landslide, and denigration of the intelligence agencies.
Another course of
action, which you'll see many in the news media taking, is to normalise the
incoming administration, basically to pretend that everything is OK. This might
- might - be justified if there were any prospect of responsible, restrained
behaviour on the part of the next president. In reality, however, it's clear
that Trump - whose personal conflicts of interest are unprecedented, and quite
possibly unconstitutional - intends to move US policy radically away from the
preferences of most Americans, including
a pronounced pro-Russian shift in foreign policy.
In other words,
nothing that happened on Election Day or is happening now is normal. Democratic
norms have been and continue to be violated, and anyone who refuses to
acknowledge this reality is, in effect, complicit in the degradation of our
republic. This president will have a lot of legal authority, which must be
respected. But beyond that, nothing: he doesn't deserve deference, he doesn't
deserve the benefit of the doubt.
And when, as you know
will happen, the administration begins treating criticism as unpatriotic, the
answer should be: You have to be kidding. Trump is, by all indications, the
Siberian candidate, installed with the help of and remarkably deferential to a
hostile foreign power. And his critics are the people who lack patriotism?
Will acknowledging the
taint on the incoming administration do any good? Maybe it will stir the
consciences of at least a few Republicans. Remember, many, though not all, of
the things Trump will try to do can be blocked by just three Republican
Politics being what it
is, moral backbones on Capitol Hill will be stiffened if there are clear signs
that the public is outraged by what is happening. And there will be a chance to
make that outrage felt directly in two years - not just in congressional
elections, but in votes that will determine control of many state governments.
Now, outrage over the
tainted election past can't be the whole of opposition politics. It will also
be crucial to maintain the heat over actual policies. Everything we've seen so
far says that Trump is going to utterly betray the interests of the white
working-class voters who were his most enthusiastic supporters, stripping them
of health care and retirement security, and this betrayal should be
But we ought to be
able to look both forward and back, to criticise both the way Trump gained
power and the way he uses it. Personally, I'm still figuring out how to keep my
anger simmering - letting it boil over won't do any good, but it shouldn't
be allowed to cool. This election was an outrage, and we should never forget it.