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Wednesday, November 16, 2016


"So far off the map"

by Tom Sullivan

Oh, dear God is right. Alex Jones refused the job because "Make America Great Again" hats don't come in tinfoil. The irony is that most of the public has no idea who Frank Gaffney is (and I'm not going to bother with an introduction here). Nonetheless, correspondent James Ball tweeted, "We are so far off the map right now."

Donald Trump's transition team ("or lack thereof") is creating panic inside the Beltway, according to the HuffPost. Even as Trump's aides are asking Obama White House officials for recommendations for Republicans who might take their jobs, former Bush officials are reportedly recommending they "'stay away' from his 'angry, arrogant' team."

The resistance is already forming up and perhaps with more alacrity than the Trump administration. Tammy Palmer, a British activist who campaign against Brexit, offers some advice:

“Be tactical. Pick your supporters, pick the politicians who'll give you some information quietly, and find out what you need to do to influence people,” Palmer said. While the initial anti-Brexit marches brought tens of thousands of people to the streets, attendance at subsequent ones in less-united areas was paltry. “There has to be a point to a protest march, otherwise you look stupid. You look like a sore loser. They're great initially to rouse people, to get people angry,” Palmer said. “But if you're trying to use it for momentum, it can actually go the other way.”


“There's a certain arrogance among people like myself. I assumed people would never be stupid enough to do this,” Palmer said. “You hear this ‘liberal elite’ narrative, and liberalism has become a dirty word. We've brought some of that on ourselves—we've positioned ourselves as better than you—but actually that's nonsense. We are really trying to reach out to people, not to judge them, not to patronize them. The whole of this country isn’t racist, thank God. Most people don’t think that way.” In an interview with Politico, London Mayor Sadiq Khan echoed this sentiment.
I knew people were angry, but like Palmer never figured there were enough of them to elect Trump, never figured that as a country we were that foolish. Now jilted-feeling America lovers have dragged their beloved down to the banks of the Ohio River. All that's left is the drowning. But it will be a really great drowning.

As we ask ourselves what comes next, Masha Gessen offers six rules for survival in an autocracy at the New York Review of Books. Rule #2 is especially timely as we contemplate spending time with family at Thanksgiving. In spite of being "off the map," I'm sure my relations will move on as if nothing radical has happened:
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Consider the financial markets this week, which, having tanked overnight, rebounded following the Clinton and Obama speeches. Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people. Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time.
Roja Bandari, an Iranian American, describes life under a religious dictatorship in a series of tweets. Both Bandari's and Gessen's observations are sobering. But while offering his own advice on how to respond, Jonathan Chait notes similarly that any signs of normality are "purely superficial." He offers some perspective on just what lies ahead:
Trump’s election is one of the greatest disasters in American history. It is worth recalling, however, that history is punctuated with disasters, yet the country is in a better place now than it was a half-­century ago, and a better place than a half-century before that, and so on. Despair is a counterproductive response. So is denial — an easy temptation in the wake of the inevitable postelection pleasantries and displays of respect needed to maintain the peaceful transfer of power. The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives.
So far, the incoming Trump administration seems ill-equipped to mount its own. But four years is a long time.