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Voices

No! No, no, no!

What will it take to stop the madness from overcoming us? Why are we being so passive in the face of impending disaster?

Saxtons River

“We should give him a chance.”

“Once he’s in office, things may well change.”

“America prides itself on ensuring a smooth, orderly transition.”

No! No, no, no!

You don’t give plutocrats, oligarchs, or incipient fascists a chance. They don’t change when they win — they only grow bolder, tell more lies, expand and tighten control, find more enemies to attack.

That’s why we must call them out every chance we get, right from the get-go!

It’s only mid-December as I write this commentary, and there’s already enough going on in the so-called presidential transition phase that speaks volumes about what’s happening to our democracy, a system of government that is inherently fragile but which we’ve come to assume is immune to dangerous mutation or worse.

What will it take to stop the madness from overcoming us? Why are we being so passive in the face of impending disaster?

As a Facebook friend of mine posted recently, “What would be happening right now if Donald Trump had won more than three million more votes than Hillary Clinton, but Clinton prevailed in the Electoral College? Would he, his supporters, and prominent Republicans have said, ‘We don’t like the outcome, but that’s how the system works’?

“Of course not.

“They’d be screaming bloody murder, they’d be preparing articles of impeachment to file on the day Clinton was inaugurated, they’d be charging that the vote was stolen, they’d be filing lawsuits to overturn (not just recount) the results in every swing state, and Trump would be telling his supporters to use any means necessary to achieve justice.”

* * *

Let’s be clear, then. It is not acceptable to ignore or diminish the potential impact of the greatest threat this country has ever faced.

As Rob Reiner put it on a Sunday morning talk show, “We have a hostile foreign power that has invaded our country. This is enormous, and the fact that people aren’t screaming about this, I don’t understand it.”

Bombs didn’t fall, Reiner said. No buildings collapsed. “But this [Russian hack] is an invasion of that magnitude. Was Trump colluding with Russian agencies?”

It is not acceptable that the president-elect is threatening to end daily press briefings and to muzzle journalists who write things he doesn’t like. His spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway went to far as to suggest pretty explicitly that there would be retaliation against naysayers.

It is also unacceptable for a president to own his own media company or to be a media executive, to fail to relinquish his business interests, to try to get around nepotism laws so that his children — who are supposedly going to run his not-so-blind trust — can serve as advisors. It should be unacceptable that he has never, and never will, reveal his taxes or, for that matter, his proper health records.

It’s also not acceptable that the proposed Trump cabinet is mainly comprised of rich old white men who have no expertise in governance and who, in some cases, have publicly vowed to eliminate the agencies they’re being tapped to run.

These unqualified people have also denied such realities as climate change and have threatened programs and agencies designed to protect our environment, national parks, and health-care delivery as well as scientific research and public schools.

It should also be noted that Mr. Trump’s proposed cabinet has more religious bigots, and more generals, than at any other time in modern history. Conversely, it has fewer women or people of color than any administration in recent memory, and no hint of any representation from people who are LGBTQ or living with disabilities.

* * *

It should be totally unacceptable that the mainstream media covered Hillary Clinton’s email server for months but barely touched upon the Russian hacks, or the misdeeds of the FBI director, until they could no longer be ignored.

It’s appalling that they never held Donald Trump’s, or his spokespeople’s, feet to the fire but gave him carte blanche when it came to his mass rallies (so reminiscent of those that Mussolini liked so much) while barely covering his opponent unless she was having a sick day.

There are many other commissions, or omissions, one can point to that make what is happening terrifying and unacceptable — among them the possible appointment of an ambassador to Israel who would undoubtedly lead to massive unrest and the growth of ISIS, if not outright war in the Middle East should he succeed in denying a two-state solution and expanding settlements.

* * *

All these potential disasters should remind us of Elie Wiesel’s idea that there should be an 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not stand idly by.”

So... are we going to practice acceptance until there is no longer a way out? Or are we up for some real organized resistance?

For example, will we all identify as Muslim if they are forced to register? Are we prepared to launch national strikes, especially by government workers, teachers, and the like? Can women repeat the strategy of the Greek play, Lysistrata, and refuse to have sex if no abortion or birth control is available?

Do we really mean it when we say “keep America strong”?

Did we really mean it after the Holocaust when we vowed “never again”?

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Originally published in The Commons issue #388 (Wednesday, December 21, 2016). This story appeared on page D1.

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