Elec­tion of Trump: 'No, I'm not over it'

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Eugene Robin­son is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group. Eugene Robin­son Colum­nist

Colum­nist Eugene Robin­son says 'no one should for­get the big­otry and racism' of the Repub­li­can's cam­paign.

The peo­ple chose Hil­lary Clin­ton. But it’s the elec­toral vote that counts, not the pop­u­lar vote, so Don­ald Trump will be pres­i­dent. And no, I’m not over it.

No one should be over it. No one should pre­tend that Trump will be a nor­mal pres­i­dent. No one should for­get the big­otry and racism of his cam­paign, the naked ap­peals to white griev­ance, the stig­ma­tiz­ing of Mex­i­cans and Mus­lims. No one should for­get the jaw-drop­ping ig­no­rance he showed about govern­ment pol­icy both for­eign and do­mes­tic. No one should for­get the vile misog­yny. No one should for­get the men­dac­ity, the vul­gar­ity, the ug­li­ness, the in­san­ity. None of this must ever be nor­mal­ized in our pol­i­tics.

The big protests that have fol­lowed Trump’s elec­tion should be no sur­prise. You can’t spend all those months trash­ing our na­tion’s val­ues and then ex­pect ev­ery­one to join you in a group hug. Trump made the bed in which he now must lie.

How did the un­think­able hap­pen? Is Trump, like Brexit, part of some world-sweep­ing pop­ulist wave? Are the Rust Belt hin­ter­lands in open re­bel­lion? Was Clin­ton just a spec­tac­u­larly flawed can­di­date? Did FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey boost Trump over the top? Did too many anti-Trump vot­ers stay home out of com­pla­cency?

There is ev­i­dence to sup­port all of those the­o­ries. But the ur­gent ques­tion isn’t why, it’s what now.

If a nor­mal Repub­li­can had been elected, I could say the po­lite and so­cially ac­cept­able thing, some­thing like, “I didn’t sup­port So-and-So but he will be my pres­i­dent, too, and I wish him suc­cess.” But I can­not wish Trump suc­cess in round­ing up and de­port­ing mil­lions of peo­ple or ban­ning Mus­lims from en­ter­ing the coun­try or re­in­sti­tut­ing tor­ture as an in­stru­ment of U.S. pol­icy. In th­ese and other di­vi­sive or cruel or un­wise ini­tia­tives, I wish him fail­ure.

I do hope he suc­ceeds in avoid­ing some kind of am­a­teur­ish for­eign pol­icy blun­der that puts Amer­i­can lives or vi­tal na­tional in­ter­ests at risk. And let me be clear that I am not ques­tion­ing his le­git­i­macy as pres­i­dent. When the re­sults are cer­ti­fied and the Elec­toral Col­lege casts its votes, Trump will be the na­tion’s duly cho­sen leader, ridicu­lous though that may be.

But he has not earned our trust or hope. Rather, he has earned the demon­stra­tions that erupted in cities across the coun­try. He has earned re­lent­less scru­tiny by jour­nal­ists, whom he shame­lessly made into scape­goats dur­ing the cam­paign, and he has earned the con­stant vig­i­lance of the pub­lic he now must serve.

There have been more than 200 re­ports since the elec­tion of ha­rass­ment and hate crimes, mostly di­rected at mi­nori­ties, ac­cord­ing to the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter. Dur­ing an in­ter­view broad­cast Sun­day on “60 Min­utes,” Trump ad­dressed his sup­port­ers: “I will say this, and I will say right to the cam­eras: Stop it.”

That would have been a bet­ter start had he not also sought to min­i­mize the in­ci­dents, say­ing there had been a “very small amount” of them; and had he not also claimed the me­dia were some­how ap­ply­ing a dou­ble stan­dard in re­port­ing on the protests.

The most trou­bling post-elec­tion de­vel­op­ment thus far was Trump’s ap­point­ment of cam­paign chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Ban­non — a prom­i­nent fig­ure in the racist, xeno­pho­bic “alt-right” move­ment — as chief strate­gist and se­nior ad­viser. A spokesman for Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid said the move “sig­nals that white su­prem­a­cists will be rep­re­sented at the high­est lev­els in Trump’s White House.”

On “60 Min­utes,” Trump hinted that he might moon­walk away from some of his most rad­i­cal prom­ises on im­mi­gra­tion, the is­sue that made him stand out from the crowd of Repub­li­can con­tenders. He still says he will build a wall on the Mex­i­can border, but there “could be some fenc­ing” in­stead of an ac­tual wall in places. And he said that “we’re go­ing to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion” about the fate of mil­lions of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who have not com­mit­ted crimes — sound­ing as if he knows his pledge to carry out mass de­por­ta­tion can­not be ful­filled.

He also backed away from the idea of hav­ing a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor rein­ves­ti­gate Clin­ton over her emails. “They’re good peo­ple, I don’t want to hurt them,” he said of Bill and Hil­lary Clin­ton.

If Trump is be­gin­ning to con­front re­al­ity on some fronts, that’s a first step — in a thou­sand-mile jour­ney to­ward cred­i­bil­ity and re­spect. But ap­point­ing Ban­non is a big step back­ward. We must watch Trump, and judge him, ev­ery sin­gle inch of the way.

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