I got a call yesterday from a family member and knew I would have to talk politics.
In the wake of Trump’s victory in the electoral college, I have been doing my very best not to think of my Trump-supporting family members because I want to continue loving them and yet their support of Trump makes that very difficult. Truly, I would have a hard time writing a character who stands more fully for the things that I stand against.
By now, the extensive list of well-fitting descriptions of Trump should have been set to a musical jingle long ago like the McDonald’s “Menu Song”: racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, autocratic, incoherent, privileged, sexist, bigoted, uncurious, flimflamming, abusive, fear-driven, inciting, dog whistling, divisive, spiteful, petty, bullying.
So, 48 hours after electing one of the most loathsome, craven, disgraceful people I've ever had to pay attention to, I'm finding it hard to feel loving towards my wonderful, kind, Christian, compassionate Trump-supporting family members.
“Well, I hope you can give him a chance,” said the family member.
“He at least deserves for you to give him a chance.”
Fuck, no, I’m not giving Donald Trump a chance.
Donald Trump promised to ban an entire religion from entering the United States. That’s scaredy-cat conduct not befitting a grown man, much less the President. Not to mention that banning an entire religion is basically the most Un-American thing you could possibly do. For the Muslims in America? No worries: just be forced to register. Totally unconstitutional.
Donald Trump promised to deport up to 6,500,000 people who are living and working in our country with their families. He promised to use the power of the United States government to divide families, tear children out of the arms of their mothers and fathers. While lawful, this proposal is absolutely Un-Christian and no person who feels any bonds of familial affection would ever propose it as a legitimate solution to the challenges facing immigrant families.
He has promised to torture our enemies, despite his understanding that this is a war crime under international law. Instead, he claims that “we have to play the game the way they’re [ISIS] playing the game.”
What. In. The. Everloving. Fuck.
During his entire campaign, including how he talks about immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, refugees, Donald Trump has stoked fear of the Other in an effort to divide our country and provide scapegoats to hard-pressed voters to blame for their troubles. This is nowhere more obvious than in his portrayal of the “inner cities” of America as postapocalyptic hellscapes overrun by violence.
This is just the beginning and is to say nothing of Trump and women. But, I’m not going to make this into a catalog of Donald Trump’s outrageous, unthinking, unfeeling, unAmerican statements and plans. As I will explain below, I’ve got fucking work to do, and you can find that sort of catalog elsewhere.
“Well…” you say, “he didn’t really mean those things. He doesn’t actually plan to ban Muslims or commit war crimes.”
THAT’S EVEN WORSE, MOTHERFUCKER.
If Donald Trump didn’t mean that shit, but just said it to get elected… Why in the world would I give that guy a chance?
Here’s the thing: there’s never been a more flip-floppity blowhard than Donald Trump. Beyond taking him at his word regarding the statements above, who knows what that dude actually believes or plans to do, if anything? But, the one thing that has been steadfast and unchanging about Trump’s politics through the decades in which he’s inflicted his gasbaggery on America is this: authoritarianism. Whether Democrat, Republican, or independent, whether pro-choice or anti-choice, pro-Iraq War or anti-Iraq War, Donald Trump’s core political instinct is authoritarian. It is his only political position.
And, now he’s President. With a GOP-controlled Congress. And a goddamned Supreme Court nomination on the “Welcome” mat at the White House because of the nihilism and willingness of Republican Senators to destroy institutional norms and imperil our democracy paid huge dividends (yay!). And an army of alt-Right, white supremacist dogs across the nation already biting our neighbors, colleagues, and friends. They’ve heard the whistles. They know what to do. Now is the time for action.
We are still waiting for Donald Trump to denounce and condemn the acts of violence being perpetrated in his name. Instead, we get tweets from the President-Elect claiming protests are "unfair".
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
So, no. I’m not going to “give him a chance.” Donald Trump’s success in the primary and his nomination by the GOP was an opportunity for everyone to say, “Wow, looks like our democracy might be more fragile than we thought.” His election to the Presidency puts that democracy on a razor’s edge. Trump’s thuggishness and obvious admiration for authoritarians, his hard-core supporters’ brutality, and the willingness of Republicans I otherwise know to be decent, Christian people who love their families and work hard to fall in line behind Trump all combine to form a terrifying threat to our republic.
The moment we give Donald Trump a “chance” is the moment we lose. How much will we lose? Which one of our freedoms will go first? Which ones will remain after Trump is gone?
Which rights are luxuries?
Which one of our friends will be injured or dead when Trump-empowered thugs come to terrorize our communities?
So, fuck no, I’m not giving Donald Trump a chance.
Maybe you are saying now, "But, Ben, doesn't not giving Donald Trump a chance make us as bad as Republicans who just delayed and obstructed for eight years?"
No. No it doesn't.
Why? Because Donald Trump is no Barack Obama. If you can't appreciate the difference between the two men, I need you to stop reading. This essay is not for you.
Before Donald Trump was elected, I was a husband and dad who worked as an attorney protecting homeowners from foreclosure, trying to prevent tenants from getting evicted, and trying to stop creditors from abusing poor people. I’m still going to be a husband, dad, and lawyer, but now the work I have to do—the work we all have to do—is not giving Donald Trump a single chance.
What that work looks like is going to be different for each person, of course.
For me, it will mean more writing, more reading, and a hell of a lot more meetings. Union meetings. Community meetings. Church meetings. Political meetings. Rallys. Protests. Vigils. Trips to Frankfort. Trips to Washington. Trips across Kentucky for more meetings. Goddamn, it's going to be so much work not giving this guy a single fucking chance. And, what’s worse, is that I’m going to have to somehow summon some kindness, empathy, compassion, grit, faith, and honesty. It would be so much easier to be fueled by anger and fear, but we know that any work worth doing is worth doing with love, hanging taut between patience and urgency.
Since Tuesday, I have been reading and listening and talking to try to prepare for the fight ahead. I'm know that nothing I've said here is particularly ground-breaking or original. But, I need to say it, publicly, because I need for my friends, family, and allies to know that I am going to resist Donald Trump's America—as I told my Trump-supporting family member—"with every fiber of my being."
For me and for the majority of people who voted on Tuesday, Donald Trump has already had enough chances. Time and again, he blew them and disqualified himself long, long ago.
He’s out of chances and he’s not even in office. Sad.