This morning I thought about writing a letter to our local daily newspaper calling for patience. “Street demonstrations, ” I was going to say, “will only deepen the national divide. Our President-elect said he wants to be the President for all Americans.”
Now, this evening, I have seen the news on who will likely be in the new cabinet. Deplorables would be too gentle a term for this bunch of extremists, self-seekers, and incompetents. How about despicables?
Let’s see. Reince Priebus is the only reasonable choice on the list. The leader of the GOP is conservative, of course, but he has shown himself to be level-headed and, so far as I can see, competent. He is a reasonable choice for White House Chief-of-Staff. Alongside of Priebus Trump has named Steve Bannon, the bigot-in-chief of the Alt-right, the home of every kind of hatred and fear-mongering movement in this country. He is anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, racist, misogynist – all of this is explicit from his own statements. Bannon will be reporting to Trump, so his power will be equal to that of Priebus. In doing this he follows his managerial policy of setting up rival forces just beneath him. I think this is to keep any potential rivals off-balance. Trumps own children are reportedly opposed to naming extremists to the administration. Ivanka, who is Jewish, should be especially upset about Bannon.
Among others being named as possible cabinet members are Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and (no joke) Sarah Palin. Palin is likely to be the only woman in a high position in this administration. Giuliani and Gingrich have both shown themselves to be men of poor character both in their personal and political lives. For Secretary of the Interior the name being mentioned is that of an oil industry executive – the fox guarding the chicken coop. Actually foxes in charge of chickens is pretty much everyone on the list of possibilities.
There is no hint of any attempt to unify our bifurcated people unless he means, “Everyone must do it my way.” This is historically the danger of electing populist demagogues of any political stripe. Minorities and women (who, of course, are not a minority) always suffer under populist regimes.
I am sometimes asked how the most civilized nation in Europe, Germany, could descend to such depths of national depravity. I suggest that we are seeing how that happens right now. Watch one of Hitler’s campaign speeches from 1932. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqBEJweLV5s The parallels with the Trump campaign are striking. Watch Leni Riefenstal’s “Triumph of The Will” to see how familiar a 1935 film of a 1934 Nazi rally looks and sounds.
Anti-Trump demonstrations are promised for every day leading up to the inauguration. I now hope we see that happen. It was the silence of too many Germans that gave Hitler’s Nazi Party so much power. It was the self-delusion of German industrialists and her military that they could control Hitler that made them collaborators with evil. It was the collection of human misfits Hitler surrounded himself with that led Germany astray.
So what are those of us who are appalled by all of this to do. Violence is never the answer but neither is silence. If Trump’s followers will not extend their hands to heal the national divide then we must. Every action and policy that violates human dignity and decency must be met with public protest and with intelligent legal and political response. Basic to all of that is the power of love. Every human being is made in the Divine Image and that must be respected. Respecting that means appealing to that divine spark in everyone, even those who are against us.
I hope my fears are unjustified.