From the outset of this unfortunate period in American history, Charles Blow of the New York Times has been a consistent voice in capturing the revulsion that most good Americans feel towards having to put up with this malevolent regime, the constant insult—really, the incessant psychological battery– of having to wake up every morning wondering what fresh hell will be forced upon them by this creature, spawned from the worst and most ignorant impulses of their “fellow citizens.”
In writing about the horrors of this Administration, Blow has never wavered, never equivocated, never given Trump the benefit of any doubt. More than any other widely-read political writer, Blow epitomizes what we would call the “resistance.”
So it was in the context of something that occurred this past week that Blow reiterated the need to maintain our vigilance, and redouble our opposition. For many of us that is not an issue. But for the vast swarm of voters who do not open their Smartphones to The Trump Impeachment every morning and who have grown numb from the constant assault on societal norms that this Administration represents, Blow warns of a real danger: the tendency to “normalize” Trump whenever he performs some action that is not simply, patently, heinous in its motivation or execution. As Blow states in his column, “Dispatch From The Resistance” :
I often hear from Trump enthusiasts and accommodators that at some point resistance must submit, that the time for outrage is term-limited, that at a point, complete opposition registers as unfair and unpatriotic.
This always settles on me in a most unsettling way. How is it, precisely, that right becomes less right and wrong less wrong simply by the passage of time and the weariness of repetition?
This is the week where Trump in his constant craving for adulation and ratings struck two deals with the Democrats, the first on the debt ceiling, the second (at least from appearances) on DACA. Both actions represented wholesale capitulation of current Republican orthodoxy. Both elicited howls of disapproval from rabid conservatives. Trump was also portrayed pretending to be Presidential by handing out hoagies in Hurricane-stricken Florida, and a misguided 11-year old boy was photographed mowing the White House lawn, with Trump looking on in approval.
One could almost be forgiven for failing to remember that the perennial debt ceiling “crisis” is a wholly artificial concoction by the Republican Party to begin with, a bludgeon they choose to wield by exploiting the budget process at the expense of the well-being of the American public. Simply disallowing the opportunity to illegally hold the country hostage is not a noteworthy achievement. It’s more like telling a rapist at the door that he has to come back later.
Likewise, while the young people who would have been shamefully deported by Trump’s reneging on DACA are certainly better off now that he appears to be reconsidering his original position, their parents and relatives are continuing to be mercilessly targeted by Trump’s gestapo, the ICE. There has been no paradigm shift at work here.
What was most insidious—and frightening–was the temporary, fleeting sense of relief that many of us felt. That the onslaught of this cancer was momentarily alleviated. That we could relax for a minute simply because Trump hadn’t done his worst. But relaxing is not a luxury we have. This country is being torn apart racially, our institutions are being degraded, and our standing and influence in the rest of the world is being turned into a joke regardless of whether Trump and his despicable cohorts throw a bone or two our way for political expediency. This is the same week that Trump reiterated his sympathy for White Supremacists, the same week that his phony “voter fraud” commission proposed instituting “background checks” designed to discourage Democratic voters from voting, and the same week we learned that fake Russian “bots” were dispatched on Facebook in swarms by a hostile foreign country to give Trump the assist he needed to win the 2016 Presidential election:
How can any of us, if we are true patriots, be expected to simply calm down and suck it up when the Russians are bragging that the “president” of this country isn’t ours but theirs?
How can we be expected to sit idly by while the fabric of this country is unwoven by maleficent hands, whatever their size?
None of this is normal or right, and Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, in my opinion, has become one of the most dangerous men in America because he is endeavoring to make the abominable look acceptable. No, thanks, sir, I prefer my disasters not to wear a disguise.
The idea that an abusive personality can be “converted” or otherwise redeemed always enters the mind of those being abused at the moment the abuse stops, however temporarily. It’s a natural reaction to becoming acclimated to living in an abusive environment, but it is a fantasy. Trump has been abusing people his entire life. The White House has simply given him the opportunity to abuse the entire nation, and he has amply demonstrated his willingness to do that. As author Robert Jay Lifton puts it, the overwhelming danger to our society is the slow acquiescence to such behavior as somehow tolerable, or “normal”:
These are forms of malignant normality. For example, Donald Trump lies repeatedly. We may come to see a president as liar as normal. He also makes bombastic statements about nuclear weapons, for instance, which can then be seen as somehow normal. In other words, his behavior as president, with all those who defend his behavior in the administration, becomes a norm. We have to contest it, because it is malignant normality.
Charles Blow will never give him the benefit of the doubt, and neither should we:
We, patriots, will not stop resisting this destruction. It is we who will Make America Great Again by trying to limit the damage Trump can do to us until he feels the reckoning of the damage he has done to himself.