It’s important to follow through and to play hard through the whole game, but right now it looks like we’re going to win. Perhaps the United States won’t be governed by a narcissist brigand after all.
Can we take a moment to think about what comes next?
- ImWithKer. Josh Marshall started a movement to take back our symbols from our new Nazis. Pepe the Frog is the mascot of the racist alt-right, but we have had a better frog all along: we have Kermit, the canonical pluralism frog.
His character embodies the generosity of spirit, perseverance, collegiality, and openness to introspection and melancholy that are ingredients of any open, free society whereas Pepe embodies the sadism, cruelty, and the lust for domination … that are the makings of autocracy, dehumanization and finally the love of death.
Besides, Kermit is able to talk openly and honestly about race in America. It’s not easy being green.
We’ve got to get out of this place. Trump has already done immense damage to the country. Racism and anti-Semitism are out of the box again. Any black teenager who is pulled over for a traffic stop must be painfully aware that his life may be over. Quietly protesting the National Anthem is as controversial again as it was when we did it in 1968, and again the loons want us to love it or leave it. Twitter is filled with anti-Semites, the right-wing loons now run Wikipedia, right-wing nationalists are resurgent in Germany, Greece, France, the UK, Poland, Hungary, and Russia. I’m not alone in being shocked by the anti-Semites whom Trump has brought out into the open: a common theme of my Twitter feed is people who, for the first time, feel unsafe in the US.
The pardon. One of the worst ideas of the Trump campaign is “Lock her up!”, the stupid chant that calls for the conversion of the United States into a police dictatorship where political rivals are incarcerated or killed. Yet, Trump himself is in a good deal of legal jeopardy: charges of tax evasion, mail fraud, securities fraud, and espionage are all entirely plausible.
I think Ford’s pardon of Nixon was a mistake, but under the circumstances I’m not sure that a long series of prosecutions of a former Republican nominee will be good for the country. It’s possible that a plea bargain or just a preemptive pardon would avoid establishing the expectation that losers will be prosecuted. (Our founders knew their Roman history and did their best to avoid this scenario, one that – Aaron Burr excepted – is completely unprecedented.)
The punishment. After this trouncing, of course, Trump’s political career will be over. What are we going to do about his alt-right loons and goons? And what are we to do about the ruthless Republicans who supported Trump as if he were perfectly normal?
- Politicians and pundits who openly endorsed Trump should be disqualified for twenty years. If they do write or run for office, they should receive laughter and scorn. I’d like to say “forever,” but that’s too harsh on younger politicians. Casual sympathizers can be excused more easily, but those whose business it was to know better, and who ignored their conscience, should not be trusted with public office or employment.
- Those who supported and encouraged the racism and anti-Semitism of the Trump campaign should be disqualified, period. We’re beyond having a conversation. Polite reminders that civility is a good thing aren't enough. We’ve come too close this time, and too much is at stake. Next time, it’s going to be fire: let’s make sure there is no next time.
- Institutions that have profited from recruiting and cosseting Nazis to sell ads (Reddit, 4chan, 8chan) or to exploit their traffic to solicit donations and seek grants (Wikipedia) must be forced to end their profiteering. Ending irresponsible editing is one solution: people should take responsibility for what they say. Strict liability for hate crimes might do the trick: if a site harbors an anonymous forum that plans and carries out political violence, the site should be liable for the crimes who perpetrators is protects. Other legislative and regulatory actions might work. It has to be stopped.