Trump must de­cide what kind of coun­try we’ll have

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Alan Char­tock Sunday Free­man columnist Alan Char­tock is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the State Univer­sity of New York, pub­lisher of the Leg­isla­tive Gazette and CEO of the WAMC North­east Pub­lic Ra­dio Net­work. Read­ers can email him at

I’ve been get­ting a lot of let­ters lately. Some­times I re­ceive up to 800 emails a day. Most of them ask for ad­vice or guid­ance on how to make sense of a coun­try that will be led by a man so many de­spise; a man who is known to tell ter­ri­ble lies and to den­i­grate women. He has been ac­cused by peo­ple with whom he con­tracted of not pay­ing his bills. We know that he has be­haved like a bully, sur­round­ing him­self with other bul­lies like Ru­dolph Gi­u­liani; Chris Christie, of Bridge­gate fame; Steve Ban­non, who ran the alt-right Bre­it­bart News Net­work; and other beau­ties who per­son­ify the worst parts of the un­der­belly of U.S. pol­i­tics. Let’s re­mem­ber that virtually no news­pa­per en­dorsed the man, and yet he won.

In ad­di­tion to those who sim­ply can’t un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing here, there are the trolls. There aren’t that many of them, but like the school­yard bul­lies, they are malev­o­lent and mean-spir­ited. “You are a loser and you and your lib­eral friends have to re­mem­ber that we won.” Well, not ex­actly. You won un­der what Don­ald Trump might call the rigged sys­tem’s rules. Hil­lary Clin­ton re­ceived more votes than Trump did.

So now Trump has to de­cide what kind of a coun­try we live in. His prob­lem is that he has to trust peo­ple who sup­ported him and then to rec­on­cile the need for his peo­ple to run the coun­try with their abil­ity to do so. First we had Chris Christie, late of the afore­men­tioned Bridge­gate. Christie was a fierce Trump par­ti­san, but then he and his cronies were all un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dumped from the Trump team. Christie had been put in charge of staffing the government through the tran­si­tion, but some­thing hap­pened. Maybe it was the en­mity to­ward Christie from Jared Kush­ner, Trump’s sonin-law. Kush­ner will never for­give or for­get the fact that Christie pros­e­cuted Kush­ner’s father and put him in jail. Maybe that’s why Christie was purged. Maybe it was some­thing more omi­nous, like the law not be­ing fin­ished with Christie now that his top aides said that the gover­nor knew about the Ge­orge Washington Bridge clos­ings. It wouldn’t do to have a cabi­net mem­ber in­dicted be­fore the new team took over.

Then there is the strange case of Ru­dolph Gi­u­liani. Ev­ery­one seemed to think that he was a shoo-in for at­tor­ney gen­eral. Some­thing hap­pened there, too. Gi­u­liani an­nounced that he didn’t want to be AG. Nope, he wanted to be sec­re­tary of state. The prob­lem was that he was to­tally un­qual­i­fied in the area of for­eign re­la­tions. He had been do­ing busi­ness with lots of for­eign govern­ments and those po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est loomed large in any Se­nate hear­ings he might face, par­tic­u­larly since Repub­li­cans like John McCain and Rand Paul seem to have been do­ing their home­work as far as skele­tons in the closet are con­cerned.

As for me, I am so con­cerned that this coun­try may take on a fas­cist face that Gi­u­liani would have been far more dan­ger­ous as the head of the Jus­tice De­part­ment than at State. Oth­ers dis­agree, think­ing that our re­la­tions with the rest of the world are more im­por­tant. Gi­u­liani, the hard line mayor of New York, presided over “Gi­u­liani Time” and I sus­pect he would usher in a whole new Joe McCarthy-like era, putting his en­e­mies in jail.

So the saga goes on. Go read Philip Roth’s, “The Plot against Amer­ica.” Talk to your kids about what hap­pens when they don’t vote. As for me, I am fright­ened. I have no real ad­vice for oth­ers ex­cept to stick to­gether. Write let­ters to your con­gress­men and to the news­pa­pers. March when you have to, in­clud­ing the “Woman’s March on Washington” on Jan. 21. Don’t be pushovers. That will only make things worse, and when some­one says to you that you should give up, use that old line from World War II: “Nuts.”

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