When a man shows us how cowardly, ignorant, and petty he is, we should believe him. We should not expect him to change. We should not expect him to become better. We should not expect him to stop being a bully when he is given power in addition to a bully pulpit. This man has shown us who he is, and he will be exactly the same for the next four years—but with power to remake the country with his actions and not just his words.
He has muzzled scientists and set in motion actions that, without exaggeration, will drive climate change from manageable disaster to runaway cataclysm. And he denies it exists. He has taken action to attack Americans, to strip us of our rights, and to expel us from the country. And he denies we deserve otherwise. He has decreed the building of an edifice of exclusion, and denied that we will pay the price.
And he has whined and complained about the depth of opposition to his dictatorial ambitions. Like any coward, he only knows how to silence those who critique him. A leader would strive to be better; this man strives for nothing.
Has it only been a week? There are so many more to come. The temptation to look away is strong—but despair, especially, we must resist.
So, I acknowledge we are doomed. This American carnage is not yet real, but it becomes so every day of his reign. His vision of a broken America, fallen from greatness, is true—as prophecy.
What do we do, in the face of this? What do we do knowing every day, the man presiding over our nation cares nothing for others? What do we do knowing his agenda is now the only agenda on the table? He has swept into power with a mandate from a bitter minority of our fellow Americans, and that mandate is one of jealous deprivation.
Take whatever you can. Take away the rights of women, of immigrants, of Muslims, of anyone not like me. Take away their protections, their health, their freedom, their voices. Take away their hope, their jobs, their families, their very reality.
That is his mandate. We can’t stop it, and we can’t protect everyone. We’re going to lose a great many friends, family, and freedoms. The most we can do is slow things down.
So why fight it? Why not give in to despair? Why not just go hide under a rock and not come out? Why not move to Canada and let him burn it all down?
Because now life is so very simple: if we do not resist, we become complicit in all that follows. To give him our despair is also to give him the last thing he needs to shape this country. Thus, to withhold that despair is power.
If we despair, who will be here to protect the needy? He will not. His platform is that the weak do not deserve even what little they receive. We who have the freedom to look away also have the freedom not to. He holds their lives in his hands and he has already begun to snuff them out—but we can guard them when they flicker. We are strong enough for that.
If we despair, who will be here to call out his nakedness? None who follow him will dare. They, and he, will claim against all evidence that his policies are succeeding, no matter how much debt and death they leave behind them. We must be here. Those who have ears may hear, but only if there is someone else to listen to.
If we despair, who will be here to record what happens for the future? If we look away, he will rewrite the world in his demented image. He already has done this for so many, and how much more will he do it if no one is noticing what happens? We must be here, to see, and to remember.
And, in the end, If we despair, who will be here to learn from this? Trump will not. His cabinet will not. His party will not. His voters, mostly, will not. He has created a narrative that says his way is right, and the credulous believe it, and no facts will turn them. Show them the body of someone dead of their unconcern and they will step over it and march on.
So we stay, and learn, and pick up the wreckage when this has ended, because otherwise the angry voices will cry “More!” And we must drown them out with “Never Again!”
Image Credit: Eve Chan