^ decades of friendship, compromise, and meeting of minds : always better than an overnight solution
—- —- —-
We will defeat Mr. Trump. All we have to do is vote. We have the numbers, he doesn’t. We have them even in the states that he needs to get to 270 electoral votes. He is underwater, with the voters, in almost every state where the outcome is not assured. He is down in Michigan, down in Pennsylvania, down in North Carolina and Arizona. He is down even in Texas, down in Iowa, down in Georgia. He could well by landslided out. All we have to do is vote.
The defeat of Mr. Trump is not by any means the 2020 election’s chief challenge. The factor that engages me — troubles me — is that a cutting edge of those who are working to defeat him seeks to go as far in the opposite direction as Mr. Trump has taken the nation in his direction. How that edge is not worrisome for people escapes me.
If Mr. Trump’s radicalism is dangerous, and undesirable, why would radicalism of the opposite sort not be dangerous and worrisome ? If it is bad to call mainstream journalism “fake news” and “:the enemy of the people,” why is it not equally bad to censor journalism or hound and harass speakers of unpopular opinions ? If unbridled corporate speculations are bad as greedy and short-sighted, why are not price controls and regulation of management not equally bad, as stifling initiative ? If Presidential executive orders (“E/O’s’) are bad when Mr. Trump tries them, why are they not equally bad when Democratic candidates propose E/O’s of their own ?
To defeat Mr. Trump, we must vote the Democrats in. This is not without risk. When I hear Democratic candidates talking about how we’re in “an emergency,” I think about all the rules that govern most emergency situations : hurry, dispatch, doing away with procedural safeguards, rush to judgement. Emergency politics opens the door to — encourages — rash acts, prejudicial orders, the creation of enemies to be done away with. Think 1789 to 1794 in France. Think 1917-1939 in Russia. Every totalitarian tyranny talks of facing emergency situations and of the drastic acts it must adopt in order to meet said emergency. Who decides if the stated emergency actually exists ? Usually the person or people who decide that end up judge, jury and executioner.
Agreed, that the Trump administration has created many situations that some might justly call a crisis : detention of asylum seekers at the southern border, abolition of climate science, demonization of LGBT people, attacks upon women’s health rights, disdain for our alliances, indifference to Russian and Chinese attacks on our cyber existence. All of these acts need to be rolled back and much fairer, wiser, more tolerant governance and diplomacy installed in their place. What should NOT be allowed to happen is the substitution of equally repressive alternatives. This sort of substitution begins with prejudicial slogans and pre-decided arguments. A depressing example is the phrase “believe the women” or “believe survivors.” First of all, I don’t believe women any more than I believe men. I believe facts and only facts. Second, in order to be a survivor you have to have survived something; but the existence of that something must be established first; otherwise you are not a survivor, just a claimant. Nor does the Presidency of Mr Trump override these basics. If anything, the presidency of Mr. Trump makes adherence to process and ascertainment more vital than ever. Verification as a standard of justice,m rather than accusation, becomes more important as the desire to accuse becomes more insistent.
Insistence has nothing whatsoever to do with fact finding.
Times of emergency call for more skepticism — more patience, more circumspection — than ordinary times.
Cold water should equally be thrown upon heated assertions of identity. Just because Mr. Trump and his cult say that brown people are bad does not mean that brown people are good. The good or bad of a person has nothing to do with their skin color, nor their national origin, nor their sexual attributes, nor their biology. The present tendency, among people boiled by social media, to cook up racial criteria of goodness is a misuse of moral fire and customary cookware. Cooled off, the meal of personal worth tastes much better, as we realize that every person is a child of God. There is no racial, national, or sexual qualifier in Rabbi Hillel’s great precept “whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to your fellow.”
So there it is, my political friends: calm down. Do your job. Organize, canvass, vote. Send Mr. trump back to the ghost world whence his sort arose. But do not put in his place an opposite species of ghost, equally bladed, blindly sure, touchlessly harsh, Philistine and censorious, illiberally tolerant, violent about violence, fervently generous with other people’s money — despising compromise because, after all, why not have it all, and now ? — and demanding overnight solutions to every problem that confounds entire generations. Be slow to the front lines, late to the party, derelict in hasty duties. Be patient: those who went before you did not change there world very much, and neither will you. Be satisfied with small wins gained on the margins. The most radical changes arise from war. And war is the stupidest, most destructive, unprogressive fact of all the miserable facts that human beings create in our dreadfully imperfect attempts at a better and more just world.
— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere