Considerations for those who don’t want Donald Trump to be their president

2016/12/05 § Leave a comment

In an article titled “How Not to Respond to Donald Trump,” Damon Linker offers three pieces of advice to those who lost on election day.

First, “Don’t manipulate the rules of the election to deny Trump his rightful victory.” Thinking that Donald Trump is the problem with this election is a faulty premise. Rather, it is the fact that Trump has any sort of following at all that is problematic. As such, Linker sees any design to thwart Trump of his seat in the White House as wrong-headed. This is most immediately felt by the circulating petition that is calling on the Electoral College to vote in favor of Clinton come December 19th. Linker says that “To stand in the way of giving Trump the White House by changing the rules would confirm every conspiracy theory his millions of supporters ever entertained and convince a good number of them that the country’s political institutions are actively working to thwart them.” This seems to me a very reasonable concern that is worth further consideration.

Second, “Resist the urge to rely on name-calling.” Serving as an example, Linker points to The Huffington Post and its barrage of inflammatory approaches at decrying Trump as either good or authentic. Linker suggests that,

Those who advocate such tactics emphasize the importance of opposing the “normalization” of Trump. But that’s not the way norms work, which is tacitly, setting the terms of acceptable speech and behavior prior to our conscious awareness. Once you need to say “don’t normalize behavior x, y, and z,” you’ve already lost the battle. What was once understood and accepted by all without deliberation is now a matter for political dispute, which means a case for re-imposing the norm must be made. And name-calling has never been an especially effective way to persuade those on the other side of a political dispute.

Third, “Don’t hype stories of violence.” As he puts it, “The last thing America needs at this moment is more anxiety, anger, and suspicion — all of which are likely to increase the likelihood of violence and ultimately strengthen the hand of the president-elect once he takes the oath of office.”

As an alternative, Linker points to Bernie Sanders as having done “more than anyone since Election Day to show how to respond effectively and responsibly to the challenge of Trump’s victory.” Read Sanders’ op-ed at The New York Times as well as see his concerns reiterated elsewhere. In conclusion, Linker states that, apart from the above wrong-headed approaches, “The opposition has no reasonable choice but to allow [Trump] to take office, govern, and (most likely) fail all on his own. In the meantime, they need to develop a compelling alternative vision to offer the country when it happens. That — and not system-rigging and name-calling — ought to be the way forward.”

In other words, name-calling and system-rigging, as well as focusing on and giving attention to acts of violence will further expand the chasm that exists between the people of our country. At the end of the day, Trump won, and people voted for him. While he, on the one hand, has the support of outspoken racists and xenophobes, he also has the support of countless others that chose to table his moral shortcomings, and still others who decided that he was the lesser of two evils in this presidential election. Both approaches are, in my estimation, wrong-headed. Nonetheless, they together serve as a defeater of those simple and fallacious straw man arguments.


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