Robin Alperstein
Nov 17, 2016 · 6 min read

The above piece from Jamelle Bouie explains why Democrats’ partnering with Trump on infrastructure is not okay. God, I cannot abide the unwillingness of the Democrats to play hardball, especially when lives are at stake. Harry Reid is a bad-ass fighter and the man stands up and his approach on this is the right one. Trump did not win the popular vote; to work with him is to thwart the will of the people (as well as basic democratic ideals), and to normalize even further the growing re-normalization of an unapologetic white supremacy.

Some context:

When Barack Obama was elected with over 53% of the vote in 2008 after Bush & Co had fucked the country to hell, the GOP acted in lockstep to obstruct Obama and the will of the people, even if it meant ruining the United States and people’s lives in the short term. Obama had run on an explicit platform of health insurance and a stimulus program to fix the economy, among other things, and he won the popular vote and the electoral college. The GOP’s goal was to make his presidency a failure — though to do that, they needed to ensure that he was unable to fix the economy, and they were willing to let people lose their homes and suffer in a recession rather than allow Obama the ability to help the nation, on the theory that his failure would ensure them the White House again in 2012.

When Obama embraced many facets of the popular and successful Romneycare — the conservative alternative to single payer and/or a public option, and thus a policy goal long-championed on the right, and which the president apparently thought would bring Republicans on board so that millions of uninsured Americans could get health care — the Republicans opposed it in lockstep. This was their idea and they were for it until Obama was. Then they opposed it with all they had, lying about it and demonizing it, and their raison d’etre became repeal and replace, only they have never had anything to replace it with, because “it” was what they had wanted in the first place (to the extent they were willing to support health care insurance at all). They opposed it because they feared that a success with Obamacare would hurt their chances of retaking the White House, or undermine their attacks on government.

When, in an economic emergency, Obama sought a stimulus, the GOP opposed it in near lockstep (only three Republican senators, and zero House members, supported it).

Do you see how sick this was? The GOP rejected any ideas, even their own, ideas that would have helped the whole country, and indeed the world, because for them ruining the presidency of a Democrat, and in particular of this country’s first African-American president, was more important than trying to solve this country’s very real problems. This conduct was the essence of placing your party above your country, yourself over your constituents. Thwarting the will of the people, expressed through the clear and decisive popular and electoral win of Barack Obama, became the order of the day for eight years. And there was no legitimate principle — zero — behind this unprecedented level of obstruction.

That same obstructionist, partisan, anti-American thirst to destroy Democrats was behind the unhinged Republican response to Benghazi, a relatively minor (in terms of its scale) embassy attack in which, tragically, four Americans died. The GOP turned this tragedy into a weapon to be used against Obama while in office and against Hillary Clinton pre-emptively in the expectation she would run for office, for nakedly partisan gain.

Now, in 2016, we have the wise words of Michelle Obama, telling us, “when they go low, we go high.” What I am saying, along with Bouie and others, is that working with Trump is NOT GOING HIGH. Refusing to normalize him and the white supremacist misogynist agenda on which he premised his campaign is going high. Lockstep obstruction of an agenda of hatred and bigotry is required; it is the very definition of going high. And doing so is not tit-for-tat, obstruction for obstruction’s sake, as the GOP engaged in under Obama; to the contrary, because Trump’s agenda is authoritarian, anti-democratic, un-Constitutional, bigoted, and wrong, opposing him does not represent a betrayal of our own progressive or Democratic or American values; it is standing up for those values.

Critically, moreover, opposing Trump is not thwarting the will of the people, it is furthering that will. Trump did not win the popular vote; only 25.8% of eligible voters voted for him (74.2% of eligible voters did not vote for him); and of those who did vote, 53% voted for someone other than him. He has no mandate. DO NOT LET HIS STOOGES OR THE PRESS CHANGE THIS NARRATIVE. Do not give in to this narrative. If the GOP could obstruct a popular president who adopted part of their own agenda to try to achieve good for all, even though that obstruction likely extended the recession, the Democrats can and must do all they can to stop Trump’s racist and misogynist policies from becoming law. The Democrats also have a Constitutional obligation to ensure that all are treated equally before the law.

I fear that we will be so battered by the abuse and shock of learning, on a daily basis, that anyone gifted with the honor of the presidency would so willingly abuse it, that some of us will become supine and give up. The press will normalize him, as they already have and are. Obama and Hillary are even doing so, for the the broader end-goal of the peaceful transition of power, and the upholding of other critical democratic norms. I understand this, but the more everyone acts like this administration is normal, the more he and it will be normalized. Don’t fall for it. Don’t buy into to this notion that that “we” “owe” Trump an open mind. I admire and respect you, Hillary Clinton, but that is bullshit. I and we owe this grotesque charlatan nothing. He serves all of us. He owes us human decency, transparency, and a commitment to try to rise to the level of his office, despite his sordid personal history of sexual abuse, lies, fraud, corruption, cruelty, and racism. And so far, I see no evidence that any attempt to honor or respect the office of the presidency is occurring or will occur. Instead, the debasement of the office has already begun, as it appears he will attempt, and be permitted, to monetize the office for personal gain, and as he looks to shame the White House corridors with an explicit racist and misogynist and anti-Semite, Steve Bannon, or put a spitting, unhinged avatar of anger and resentment into the country’s top diplomatic post, or nominate to a cabinet position yet another mediocre man who thought it was fine to publicly call Clinton the c-word.

So, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I know you want to do good, but you must not do it on the backs of people of color. Listen to the bulldog Harry Reid, a fighter who has gotten more done in Congress than most congressmen combined and then squared. Listen to the voices of people of color, who know, as we all know or should know, that Trump’s ideas and platform cannot be, and must not allowed to be, disaggregated from the explicit racialist message on which they are based. Stop pretending it can be, or you will become collaborators, and I do mean it in the 1930s sense. You think you “see” marginalized communities? Well, they sure see you, and they are not fooled. Stop fooling yourselves; fight like living hell for what’s right. That is going high.

Voluble by Robin Alperstein

Thoughts on politics, news, and other things.

Robin Alperstein

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Voluble by Robin Alperstein

Thoughts on politics, news, and other things.

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