Frank Bruni wrote a thoughtful, intelligent op-ed piece in the NYT (reprinted below) today in which he scolded all of us who have been quite angry and passionate in our public rebuke of Donald Trump and his supporters. Bruni believes our over-the-top behavior does more damage than good. He may be right. BUT:
I would love to “always” take the high road but I’m not that emotionally flat or secure. I’m also troubled by the idea that if we don’t act indignant are we not passively validating the hate and blind cult like nature of Trump followers who have clearly surrendered both their capacity for logic and their moral compasses in the cause of seeing one of the own stick it to liberal elite and treat non-white people like garbage? Calm and reasonable does have its time and place. Can it ever be necessary if not appropriate to scream NO through words of rage and repudiation?
Trump and his supporters are not people to be reasoned with. And I reject Bruni’s suggestion that we have to stop drawing parallels between the dismantling of our democracy, the autocratic machinations of Trump and what Hitler and the Nazis did. Need I point out that the Third Reich did not come to power a result of a military coup. The democracy afforded by the Weimar Republic was the mid-wife of Hitler’s evil regime.
And isn’t Trump’s government rounding people up everyday?
Isn’t Jeff Sessions and the Department of Homeland Security engaged in opening more and more “detention centers”‘ all over this country?
Isn’t this President demeaning and invalidating the role of the legitimate free press in the United States every single day?
Isn’t Trump’s narcissism so pathological that he is prepared to use the office of POTUS to punish his enemies?
Aren’t Trump and his band of bigoted malcontents completely indifferent to the rule of law if it in anyway inhibits intolerant white Christians from discriminating against Muslims, LGBTG, African-Americans, Latinos and of course, “the liberal elite?”
Speaking as a Jew, a son and grandson of (German!) Holocaust survivors:
WE’VE BEEN DOWN THIS ROAD BEFORE! WE KNOW WHAT SUPREMACIST AUTOCRATS LOOK AND SOUND LIKE.
We’re not about to let it happen again.
(reprinted from the New York Times)
How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump
Dear Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee and other Trump haters:
I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning. You think you’re raising your fist when you’re really raising a white flag.
You’re right that Donald Trump is a dangerous and deeply offensive man, and that restraining and containing him are urgent business. You’re wrong about how to go about doing that, or at least you’re letting your emotions get the better of you.
When you answer name-calling with name-calling and tantrums with tantrums, you’re not resisting him. You’re mirroring him. You’re not diminishing him. You’re demeaning yourselves. Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din.
You permit them to see you as you see Trump: deranged. Why would they choose a different path if it goes to another ugly destination?
Of course this is broader than De Niro, bigger than Bee and about more than profanity. It’s about maturity, pragmatism and plain old smarts — and the necessity of all three when the stakes are this high.
Many Democrats get that. Maybe even most do. In the primaries last week and on Tuesday, Democratic voters by and large chose House candidates whose appeals were tempered and whose profiles make them formidable general-election contenders. They’re the best bets for wooing less fiercely partisan voters and snatching seats currently in Republican hands.
The results in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District on Tuesday were a perfect example. State Senator Jennifer Wexton, a former federal prosecutor, won, and will take on the Republican incumbent, Barbara Comstock. That was precisely what Republican strategists didn’t want, and at the beginning of the year, they chattered hopefully about Wexton’s being thwarted by more strident Democratic rivals to her left. But she beat the second-place finisher by almost 20 points.
I’m buoyed by that and by what I’ve witnessed when I’ve met with Democratic candidates in potentially red-to-blue House districts. They’re not getting bogged down in impeachment talk, which can sound to many voters like a promise of ceaseless partisan rancor and never-ending Washington paralysis. They’re not frothing at the mouth about Trump.
They understand that there’s no need for that. He’s the most exhaustively chronicled and psychologically transparent president in the lifetimes of most American voters, who already know how they feel about him. What they’re less certain about are their alternatives. If you want to make sure that at least one chamber of Congress is a check on Trump, talk to them about that.
And do so in a vocabulary that’s measured, not hysterical. Enough with “idiot” and “moron” (unless you’re directly quoting an administration official). They’re schoolyard and splenetic.
Enough with Hitler, too. Has Trump shown fascistic tendencies? Yes. Is he the second coming of the Third Reich? No. Nor are the spineless Republicans who have enabled him Nazi collaborators, not on the evidence of what has and hasn’t happened so far.
I’m not urging complacency. But when you invoke the darkest historical analogies, you lose many of the very Americans you’re trying to win over. What you’re saying isn’t what they’re seeing. It’s overreach in their eyes.
And when you make the direst predictions, you needlessly put your credibility on the line. The stock market didn’t go into free fall after Trump’s election. We’re not at war with North Korea. I’m not ignoring the grave flaws and galling giveaways in his tax overhaul, and I’m not minimizing his disregard for diplomatic norms, including his unwarranted verbal attacks on American allies. I’m noting that when you extrapolate too wildly into the future, you sometimes wind up distracting people from what’s happening in the here and now.
The more noise, the less discernment. The more fury, the less focus. Proportion and triage are in order, and that means an end, please, to the Melania madness. Floating the idea that she’s a victim of domestic abuse merely supports Trump’s contention that his critics are reflexive and unfettered in their contempt for him and that all of their complaints should be viewed through that lens.
“When they go low, we go high,” said another first lady, Michelle Obama, at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. It’s a fine set of marching orders, disobeyed ever since. It was definitely ignored by those of you in the Manhattan theater where the Tony Awards were held on Sunday. You answered De Niro’s expletives with a standing ovation.
Never mind that he wrested the spotlight from the Parkland, Fla., teenagers, so that his negative message, not their positive one, was the big story. Never mind that he squandered a chance to model a bearing more dignified than Trump’s.
He made the blue wave look iffier and Trump 2020 stronger. Did you mean to be clapping for that?
UPDATE – THIS WONDERFUL MISSIVE MAKING THE ROUNDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY I THINK MAKES MY POINT BETTER THAN I DID!! – MGI listened as they called my President a Muslim.I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn’t born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I paid attention.
Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To “Get over it.”
To accept this…
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.
And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I’ve tolerated all I can.
Now it’s their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day forward is now Trump’s fault just as much as they thought it was Obama’s.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.