What Trump-dreams may come
To wish Trump success seems like the patriotic thing to do. We don’t want him to bring the republic down, after all; and anyone who puts country over party will hope that all his or her misgivings about the candidate are wrong. To wish President Trump the very worst is to wish something bad for the United States.
But there are some things we should not put behind us: the way Trump ran his campaign; the mandate he built among racists, islamophobes, xenophobes, antisemites, misogynists, and the like; and the reckless promises he made that, if realized, would severely hurt the country’s economy, its constitutional foundations, its democratic institutions, and national security.
If America’s best years lie ahead, there has to be a break with the political culture Trump has taken to excess, with fake news, ethnocentric identity politics, advocacy of simple but irresponsible solutions, and divisiveness.
To paraphrase Mitch McConnell: it’s not that we want Trump to fail, it’s that we want him to change.
This means making razorsharp distinctions when we oppose him. He should be held accountable for his hare-brained promises, whether he keeps them or abandons them. He should be held accountable for every misstep that compromises the constitution in general and civil rights in particular. He should be constantly confronted with rhetoric that favors some Americans over others, simply on the basis of their pigment, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, gender, etc. He should be reminded, all the time, that he is every American’s president. We should demand that he makes wise, temperate, foreign policy decisions, even in the face of uncertainty. We should relentlessly hold him to the highest moral standards of any office, because he is in the highest office: he should be beyond reproach for conflicts of interest, or putting anything above the needs of the country he is serving.
This also means that we should honestly acknowledge when he does the right thing, and even when our disagreements are the kind that occur, and should occur, among honest people. We should expect no more of Trump than we expect of ourselves.
So far, he is failing spectacularly on all these things; but maybe he will do better on some than on others. We should acknowledge the good things and never let up on the bad ones.
My point is that we should spend our energy on opposing the things Trump does wrong rather than resorting to pettiness. Trump will not take office so we have something to ridicule. Political satire is intended to provide relief and perspective, not catharsis.