One of the most disturbing articles I’ve read in the past week – a week full of tragedy and disgust – is this piece by Masha Gessen. Gessen thoughtfully prepared a list of “rules for survival” in the midst of autocratic rule. It’s depressing that we need to talk to each other this way now, but the piece is absolutely a must-read. Gessen says we need to go into the Trump presidency with our eyes wide open. We must believe that every promise Trump made during his campaign is true, that he will ban Muslims, that he will deport millions of people, that he will empower the Alt-Right and more. Do not rationalize his words and actions. Do not tell yourself that he will be different now that he’s won. He will not be different. And do not count on institutions to save you. The media will get in line. Trump is now in charge of appointing judges, and the judiciary will fall too. Expect this to happen. Do not be surprised. Be outraged.
So, with all that in mind, let’s get to some of the political stories going around.
Harry Reid’s letter. “Harry Reid” was trending on Twitter for most of Friday. Reid – the outgoing Senate minority leader – has no f—ks to give and he’s always openly despised Trump. While other Democrats urged conciliation, Reid laid down the gauntlet: “If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.” The whole piece is absolutely worth a read.
Who does Hillary blame? The short version is that the Clinton camp blames their defeat on FBI Director James Comey. While I understand that there will be a lot of back-and-forth on this for years to come, I’d just like to say that I think Comey and the pro-Trump faction within the FBI deserve a good chunk of the blame too. While some people are signing petitions suggesting that the Electoral College set aside Trump’s votes, I say that we need to put pressure on Obama to fire Comey and empower a special prosecutor to look into the FBI’s blatant politicization in violation of the Hatch Act.
Trump’s 60 Minutes interview. He made a lot of headlines as clips and quotes came out days in advance. Once again, refer to Masha Gessen’s rules about living in an autocracy. Do not be fooled by Trump saying that he would be willing to keep parts of Obamacare. It’s not going to happen. Do not be fooled by Trump promising to be “very restrained” by how he uses Twitter. He will still be a temperamental toddler, stoking the Alt-Right on their favorite platforms. Do not be fooled by his new conciliatory tone regarding Hillary Clinton. His people want to prosecute her, no doubt. Do not normalize him. Do not rationalize him.
Trump’s new staff. After a chaotic four-day period where Trump demoted Chris Christie as head of his transition team, Trump finally announced two filled positions in his administration. He selected Reince Priebus as his chief of staff – Priebus is the not-well-liked head of the RNC, but he’s pretty establishment. Trump also chose Steve Bannon from Breitbart as his chief strategist. Bannon is an Alt-Right lunatic.
Trump on social issues. In that same 60 Minutes interview, he says gay marriage is fine with him, which I sort of believe, since he wasn’t gay-bashing during the campaign, even if he selected a gay-bashing VP. But Trump wants to end Roe v. Wade. So… yeah. There you go.
The impeachment scenario. Some people are already saying that there are many scenarios in which President Trump could be impeached, possibly even by the Republican-controlled Congress. One professor – who predicted Trump’s victory – says that he believes establishment Republicans in Congress will simply look for a reason to impeach Trump just so they can deal with Mike Pence, someone they know, trust and can control. While I think Mike Pence is an awful person with destructive, vomitous politics, I also think he’s not a temperamental child with a kamikaze streak. Mike Pence isn’t going to start World War III because someone mocked him on Twitter. I’m just saying… looking at a Trump presidency in the orange face, even I think Pence would temperamentally make a better president. Yes, that’s setting the bar really low. But think about the nuclear codes, please.