One of the odder and more Orwellian slips of doublethink that has happened since the election is the emergence of the “give him a chance” hypothesis: the idea that despite Donald Trump’s lurching disregard for basic human decency and morality, to say nothing of the qualities we expect our president and chief ambassador to the world to exhibit, his election somehow bestows on his critics the obligation to change their critique in substance or tone.
It’s hard to take in the absurdity of this in one go. For one thing, if the election of what multiple conservative commentators have called a “sociopath” does not permit spirited resistance in speech or writing or organization, when the hell is it ever permissible? Does the pig, all of a sudden, have to invite the wolf in for supper before making a judgement? Does the wide-eyed skydiving instructor who insists you’re better off with the Cosmic Consciousness than a parachute deserve an equal hearing?
Trump and his handlers are desperate to persuade the media and the electorate that the New Truth, whatever it ends up being, assuming it can hold its shape in the cavern of Trump’s mind for more than a few moments, is the only relevant information. Nothing he has said or done up to this point any longer has bearing on reality, and he is not responsible, in any sense, for any of it. Apparently winning the presidency in the United States is similar to a confession booth. You walk in, and by some poorly-understood method you’re cleansed of your impurities. Reality by fiat.
One of the things George Orwell frequently showcases in his explorations of the totalitarian is the awesome power of denial. The constant, compulsive need to alter reality in ways that would be comical were they not so terrifying and effective.
Trump and his loyalists are desperate to deploy this tactic. With his presidency secure, all is washed white as snow. His incomprehensible proclamations on policy were not literal, but figurative, except when they were literal. He will remain a man who “tells it like it is,” even when it isn’t. His entanglements with foreign governments are not conflicts of interest, because the president is not subject to Law. He will have no influence over his businesses because his children/constant companions will be running them for him. His self-dealing charity is not relevant, nor are the dozens of cases he’s involved with in the legal system. His cabinet is not quickly filling with fundamentalists, racists and white nationalists, contrary to the evidence. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
Well, so far as we are concerned here at Swing State, the argument that one should reevaluate whether to give Trump a chance to succeed in . . . whatever it is he intends to do . . . is a complete failure. It does not even approach the level of basic rationality and applicability we would normally think of as “serious.” Everything Donald Trump has said and done or failed to do or failed to appropriately distance himself from, remains relevant. His alleged sexual assaults are relevant. His basic incompetence and pathological lying are relevant. His poor followers should be reminded of all of it at every opportunity. It is the media’s duty to continue to inform and investigate these issues and more, without concern for the administration’s childish protests.
And it’s our duty to remind our elected officials this behavior is simply not acceptable. We are weathering this person, surviving him, and the sooner his lifetime of greed and corruption and predation catch up with him, the better it is for all of us.