I watched Hillary Clinton's concession speech. I watched President Obama's remarks from the White House. I watched Elizabeth Warren's video. I have read a bunch of newspaper editorials and a bunch of pundits. They are telling me that Trump won the election and that now we need to root for him to succeed. We are all in this together, they tell me. He is to be the president of all of us, they say, and while we need to be vigilant in case the things he said in his acceptance speech Tuesday night are false, we need to give him the benefit of the doubt.
My question for all of them is this: How long do we wait?
How long do we wait for Trump to disavow the forces of hate that fueled his campaign and continue to swirl around him? How long do we wait while he fills his cabinet with cronies and goons? How long do we wait while he refuses access to the press? How long do we wait while Trump Tower is turned into a fortress? How long do we wait while he questions the right of people to gather and express their opinions?
I understand where these pleas for patience are coming from. We want to be respectful, we want to preserve our norms and traditions. We don’t want to be like the other guys, questioning the president’s legitimacy before he even takes office and making it impossible for him to govern. We don’t want to seem like hypocrites, doing all the things that we have been complaining about the Republicans doing since 2008.
But Trump is not normal, and we know exactly what kind of president he is going to be. Trump is interested in exactly one thing: Trump. His presidency will be about gathering power for Trump and punishing anyone who questions him or whom he perceives to be a threat to his power, because that is what his entire career has been about. He has had months to repudiate the vile forces that have gathered around his campaign and he has done nothing. He has no meaningful plans or policy proposals, because he fundamentally does not care about any of that. He will use the immense levers of power that will be at his disposal as president to enrich himself and increase his power, and he will lash out at anyone who questions him. He will stock the White House and the executive branch with a cast of characters that will make us miss the days of the George W. Bush administration, and they will systematically wreck the machinery of government and our democracy.
Harry Reid's statement is a good start, but it needs to be followed by action. So are the protests that are already occurring in cities around the country. Democrats should be opposing and blocking Trump and his administration out of the gate and not give an inch. Whatever investigatory powers they have should be turned upon Trump and his cronies, and he should be subjected to unrelenting scrutiny before his inauguration even happens. His appointments need to be blocked and stymied. Left to their own devices, they will, for the most part, not do that. We need to force them to, or replace them with people who will. We need to organize and build networks at the local and state level to protect the vulnerable and to support everyone engaged in this fight. We need to do whatever we can to help fund and support independent media organizations and advocacy groups. We need to keep talking about this stuff with everyone we know and with people we don't, and we can't be afraid of pissing people off.
This all may sound melodramatic and hyperbolic, but this is a crisis the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetimes, and every day that goes by where Trump is given the benefit of the doubt and is treated like just another candidate taking office is another step down the slope to disaster.
How much longer do we wait?