Friday, January 20, 2017
Today, the United States inaugurates the most unqualified, incompetent and dangerous person ever to be "elected" to the presidency. I say "elected" because he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.
Many people will want to watch his absurd inauguration, like gawkers at a gruesome accident. I do not judge. It is a historic event of tragic proportions. But I refuse to tune in, because all that the emotionally stunted and deeply mentally impaired Donald Trump cares about are ratings and public attention, and I for one, am not going to give it to him today.
Yesterday, I attended an anti-Trump rally. Speaker after speaker invoked love. At some point, I felt I was lost in a giant liberal Hallmark card. Love is nice, but it does not work for me. Love is an overused cliché. Respect, however, is something that I could fathom mustering because I don't need Republicans and people who hate liberals to love me, but I demand they respect me, and I assume it goes both ways.
The Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing was a perfect example of the Republican disrespect for the American citizenry. It was a sideshow in which the Republican senators kissed DeVos's ass with fawning non-questions and prevented the Democrats from probing. But the greatest disrespect was shown by DeVos herself, in her refusal to answer questions, in her idiotic evasions, her use of euphemisms (deferring to the states, parental choice, and opportunity, all which mean privatization) and worse, in showing up without even having bothered to prepare. She is to be confirmed as Secretary of Education and she did not do her homework. Her conduct at the hearing was a slap in the face to the American public. This is what the next four years are going to be like and it is going to take a lot more than love to withstand the onslaught.
Bullying is an equal opportunity activity. Kids get bullied for being smart, for being dumb, for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dark, too pale. That is how Trump operates. He bullies everyone: Obama, the media, women, comedians, veterans, Mexicans, Muslims, the intelligence community, the disabled. Political bullies (nazis, Stalinists, Maoists, etc) know that humiliation makes people afraid. With Trump everyone is fair game, except the bigger bully: his friend and enabler, Vladimir Putin.
And so when I hear my fellow liberals talk about love, I get frustrated. Because love will not trump hate. Love only trumps hate in fantasyland. Love will not guarantee or protect our basic human rights. Love will do nothing to stem the utter contempt, distrust, and disrespect for reason, science, culture, the arts, the press, thought, and agnosticism both religious and ideological; love is a very weak weapon against the virulence of the American anti-intellectual strain. This strain can be swiftly transformed into destructive policies, from laws that oppress women and deny healthcare and education to people, to the plundering of the environment, and counterproductive foreign policy. Stupid people in power are very dangerous, not least because they make the stupid feel powerful and encourage the arrogance of the willfully ignorant. That is why Trump is where he is today.
Love won't do squat against the forces of regression that threaten our planet with extinction and our country with a return to its ugliest racism, xenophobia, ignorance and intolerance.
What we need are brains, and the courage to use them.
After today, we will find out if our democratic institutions can withstand abuse, or if they are just empty shells sustained by rapacious capitalism. We will confirm whether the Democratic party is as ineffectual and hobbled by corruption and inertia as we suspect it is, or if it is ready to grow a pair of truly progressive cojones and fight every second of every day for the next four years. We will find out if indeed we live in a democracy or not. But to find out we need to act and the only way to find out is to resist.