Why Trump's First Week In Office Gave Me Hope

I don't do bullshit piety. I don't get weepy when celebrities I don't know die and I don't buy into sanctimonious nonsense like "We can't root for Trump to fail, because he's our President and rooting for him to fail is rooting for America to fail."

No: Trump stands against everything that America claims (often more aspirationally than in reality) to represent: freedom, justice, tolerance, big-heartedness. Rooting for Trump to fail means rooting for America to succeed. It means rooting against the sickness of bigotry. It means rooting for reason over prejudice, facts over lies, truth over propaganda.

So this past week gives me hope, a glimmer of light in a vast night, because it showed ordinary people resisting the deeply stupid tyrannical forces doing their damnedest to lead us into the abyss. Excepting Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, cowardly legislators have failed to oppose our naked orange emperor. But across the country, the American people themselves have begun to show that adaptable resourcefulness and fierce cussed opposition to tyranny we like to think of as typically American.

Right from the outset, Trump hoped for a Nuremberg moment in his Inauguration, which the American people denied him. Instead he saw that pitiful event dwarfed by the Women's Marches that followed the next day across the US and on every continent (including Antarctica)--and became so outraged that he spent his first several days in office lashing out against that reality. Those millions of women (and men) in pink pussy-hats got to our would-be Dear Leader. A stronger person might not have taken the Marches so personally. It's tough to be a strongman when you look so weak.

But the Women's Marches were not just against Trump. They were for humanity, for empathy and big-heartedness, for justice. If they didn't make you proud to be an American, if seeing millions of Americans marching with passion and humor and humanity did not fill you with wonder and joy, then you should perhaps reconsider some of your most basic ideas (though you won't). If you don't agree that those Marches went right to the core of being an American, I would like to suggest that you read our founding documents--this time perhaps the parts that don't concern guns.

Even the press corps, which up until now has appeared pliant and unwilling to face the heat of calling "bullshit" on Trump's obvious lies and babble, seemed to find its voice and its decency this past week, as it actually started doing its job of reporting facts and refuting falsehoods. The press conference that followed the Marches only served to nail down Trump's vulnerability. Sean Spicer's overwrought lies brought widespread mockery from the press and the Internet. Kellyanne Conway's Sunday chat-show coinage of "alternate facts" dialed the mockery up to Spinal Tap levels.

Trump's pitiful performance at the CIA did him no favors either. Not a good look: a man who has never sacrificed anything standing in front of a wall commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country as he spouts easily-debunked lies to people who earn their living winnowing lies from truth.

For once, we saw this abomination in all its cringeworthy glory. Finally, the press stepped up and showed us what we--well, not "we" exactly--elected. At last, perhaps not too late, the press did its job. Anyone with a sense of decency after such a performance might shut up for a bit--though Trump didn't, and won't until the cumulative sight of such embarrassments becomes overwhelming. My hope: that the press, having found its voice, continues to raise it and to point out our orange emperor's current state of nudity.

The New York Times, until now too respectable to do its job in the face of a barrage of Trump bullshit, finally got into the act by using the word "lie" in a headline about Trump's claim to Congressional leaders that 3-5 million "illegal" votes were cast in the election. This claim too made the would-be strongman seem like a weak and whiny child having a tantrum after "winning" a game by cheating and being called out on it.

Even the Internet, which arguably made Trump, participated in what I hope we will one day see as the beginning of his undoing. Trump froze the Internet presence--web sites, blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook--of the National Park Service (and more or less every other Federal agency) because the Service had dared to contradict his self-aggrandizing lies about Inaugural attendance.

Bad idea. Do not piss off a park ranger; these people face bears with equanimity. In response to the Administration's actions, rogue employees of the National Park Service went live with @ALTUSNPS, which continued to tweet facts embarrassing to the Trumpsters. (The account has since been handed over to non-government-employees.) Similarly, @RogueNASA went up to report factual climate and scientific information, which NASA's official Twitter feed no longer can. I find that kind of daring--risking your job to continue doing your job honestly and competently--admirable and in the best tradition of our country.

So maybe we were a little slow to get to this point, and we let a madman (or an idiot; he could be an idiot) take control of the machinery of power. But I think that madman (or idiot) will find that power in the US comes from consent, and we don't consent. We mostly did not vote for him, and even those who did vote for him did not vote for a ban on Muslims, or for a tax on Mexican goods coming into this country, or for another war in Iraq. The protests going on at this very minute at JFK and other airports, and the help and support being offered Muslim travellers trying to enter or re-enter this country, gives me another reason for hope. As I write this, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly (another Federal employee just trying to do her job, crazy boss notwithstanding) has blocked the deportation of those held by the ban.

So what will happen? I don't know; I'm no pundit and I don't get paid to guess the future. But I do think that madman (or idiot) had best tread lightly (though he won't), because he has pissed many of us off, and keeps pissing off more every day. (In the non-golden-shower kinda way.) So, yes, the week gave me hope, this hope: that there are more decent, kind and humorous Americans than there are bigots. And we are angry.

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