Friday, January 20, 2017

Be resolute

One of the smarter pundits around, Josh Marshall, put into words a sentiment that has been percolating, wordlessly, in my head for a month or two: "The Case for Not Being Crybabies".

Donnie is President. A majority of us didn't want that to happen, and we're frankly aghast at the appalling reality of it. But it's more than past time to get over it — not in sad resignation, but in calm determination to contain the damage.

Marshall's piece addresses his fellow journalists, who, as I've complained before, have done an embarrassingly bad job of handling Donnie by letting him handle them. He bluntly reminds them:

We know Trump's MO. He will bully people until they're cowed and humiliated and obedient. He'll threaten to kick the reporters out of the White House and then either cut a 'deal' or make some big to-do about 'allowing' the reporters to stay. These are all threats and mind games meant not so much to cow the press as make them think Trump is continually taking things away from them and that they need to make him stop.
But all the brouhaha about "access" profoundly misses what journalism is all about and what journalists are supposed to be doing.
That access isn't necessary to do their jobs. And bargaining over baubles of access which are of little consequence is not compatible with doing their job. Access can provide insight and understanding. But it's almost never where the good stuff comes from. Journalists unearth factual information and report it. If Trump wants to turn America into strong man state, journalists should cover that story rather than begging Trump not to be who he is.
Marshall speaks for me when he writes:
I've been surprised at the extent to which right-thinking people are all but threatening themselves with what Trump might do to, collapsing into their own sense of powerlessness.
For the press, the remedy is simple:
Trump wants to bully the press and profit off the presidency. He's told us this clearly in his own words. We need to accept the reality of both. The press should cover him on that basis, as a coward and a crook. The big corporate media organizations may not be able to use those words, I understand, but they should employ that prism. ... Trump is a punk and a bully. People who don't surrender up their dignity to him unhinge him.
That's smart advice not just for journalists, but the rest of us.

Don't surrender your dignity. Don't let Donnie goad you into forgetting who you are.

Keep your eye on what matters: "Ignore everything Donnie says. Pay attention solely to his deeds." And don't let him distract you. As I wrote more recently, "Work toward a better future in spite of him".

Most of all, be resolute. We are going to have a rough time of things on the political front for a long time. We already have a hostile administration and Congress; we are going to have a hostile Supreme Court majority as soon as Donnie and the Senate act. A lot of bad governmental actions and inaction are coming down the pike. We can (and should) decry these things and work to change them, but we have to keep our spirits and our strength up to do so. We know how to live with integrity and honor and decency. Don't let Donnie and the troubles these times will bring change our hearts. We are better than him and the worst impulses of his followers.

So are a lot of his followers, too: don't forget that. They are our neighbors. To change the country, we have to reach out to them. We must see their humanity, and help them to see ours. Then we have to learn how to talk to each other again. That is the great challenge of our time. We're never going to have functional electoral politics until we find common ground on which to call ourselves "Americans".

Be resolute in the face of trouble. We're going to get through this.

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