When I woke up on November 9th, 2016, I expected to find social media overrun with gloating, ecstatic Trump supporters crowing about their victory like football fans after a rivalry win. Instead, I found (amid Clinton voters’ understandable weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, wearing of sackcloth, etc.) a different message: come on, everybody, give Trump a chance.
Well… should we? In this article for the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof contends that we should. In a refrain that some non-Trump-voters keep repeating, he says we “owe it to our nation” to “grit our teeth” and give him a chance to show what he’s made of. I can understand the sentiment – many people are simply exhausted by the seemingly endless torrent of crude, ugly, insulting rhetoric that we’ve all been subjected to for months now. The election is over, and it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and say, “Fine! I’m sick of being stressed and scared and angry! It’s been decided. I’m going to tend my garden, give Trump a chance, and hope for the best.” I hear you, and I get it.
But here’s the problem with giving Donald Trump a chance to show us what he’s made of: Donald Trump has already shown us what he’s made of, and it ain’t sunshine and rainbows. He has made it abundantly clear that he intends to threaten and infringe the rights of women, immigrants, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community, and non-Christian religions. He has proven time and time again that he can be provoked and manipulated as easily as a grade-school child, which is a gift to our enemies. He has advocated torture and war crimes. He threatens and intimidates the free press and promises to jail his political opponents. He treats our international peacekeeping alliances like a pay-for-protection extortion racket. He surrounds himself with racists, homophobes, conspiracy theorists, and sycophants, and on top of all of this, he refuses to change one iota, even when the American people showed through the popular vote that they disapprove.
Donald Trump is, as many people of all political affiliations have said, a threat to democracy and unfit to serve as President. Unfortunately, he will be serving as President. If we “give him a chance” to govern as he has promised, then we are giving him a chance to harm and marginalize millions of Americans, hack away at the foundations of our democracy, and drag our great nation down to the vulgar depths where he dwells. Instead of “giving him a chance,” it is our responsibility to take action and resist every harmful facet of the Trump agenda.
As James Downie says in this Washington Post article:
“If Trump turns out to be a surprisingly not-terrible president, I will be relieved. But if he deports thousands of “dreamers,” strips away health care that millions now depend on and launches attacks on a free press and freedom of assembly — all things he has said again and again he will do — I will not be standing somewhere saying, ‘Well, I was giving him a chance!’ Tuesday was Election Day. Now is the time to fight back.”
And that, my friends, is what we really owe to our nation.