So Trump will be president. There’s been a rush to normalize the election, to embrace the new president, to make it seem all OK. It’s not OK. America elected a racist demagogue who is singularly unfit to be president. We should not normalize Trump’s monstrous campaign. It feels obvious (or pointless) to catalog his faults now, but perhaps in the coming years it will be useful to remember what Trump has been up to now.
Trump made numerous policy statements that should have disqualified him as a candidate. His advocacy of assassinating families of terrorists and torture are calls for war crimes. His proposals of a registry of Muslims and banning Muslims from visiting the US violate the First Amendment. His encouraging assault at his political rallies and his promise to jail Clinton are the threats of petty tyrants, not American Presidents.
Trump is personally odious. He bragged about sexually assaulting women. At least ten women publically accused him of sexual predation. His only response has been to threaten to sue them. He doesn’t pay his bills. He brags about paying no taxes, based on a dodgy tax scheme. He spearheaded a racist campaign trying to deny Barack Obama’s citizenship. He is a prodigious liar about things both big and small, like his non-existent charitable donations.
But 26% of eligible voters voted for Trump, he will be president. I don’t quite know how to sit with that, that so many Americans voted for a racist sexual predator. Voted for someone lacking even a basic understanding of American governance. In many cases people voted for him because of his racism and ignorance, not despite it. That’s America 2016.
So what next? We could ask 2012 Donald Trump for advice; back then he openly called for revolution against Obama. But that’s crazy. We have to live with his presidency. But we don’t have to pretend that he’s normal or acceptable. We don’t have to pretend he’s not the man he was in the campaign. As Gessen says, “Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.”