November 18, 2016

GUEST ROOM | Four Ridiculous Opinions About Trump

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In these ridiculous times, it’s tempting to take ridiculous positions; after all, we have a ridiculous President-elect. From his golden hair to his stubby fingers, Trump is a caricature of American wealth, power and superficiality. Of course he’ll lead us into outlandish positions.

These are a few such positions. Regardless of your political beliefs, don’t let yourself fall into any of these traps, and you’ll be an island of sanity in the ocean of weirdness that political debate has become.

Donald Trump should be assassinated. I shouldn’t even have to include this, but I’ve heard more assassination talk bandied about by my friends on the left than I’d have guessed, and #AssassinateTrump even trended on Twitter. Even as a joke, language like this is dangerous and stupid, and to even sorta halfway believe in it is morally bankrupt. Violence shouldn’t be part of the political process; that Trump himself has violated that norm doesn’t excuse anyone else doing it.

Donald Trump is striking a blow against entrenched Washington interests. Not so far he’s not. Trump has spent the first days of his presidency naming prominent lobbyists and political operatives to all sorts of important roles. Marc Short, who until recently ran the billion-dollar Freedom Partners lobbying network, is now a close advisor to Mike Pence. Michael Catanzaro, the head of Trump’s energy transition team, was a partner at a lobbying firm whose clients included the petroleum giant Koch Industries. Trump’s chief of staff is the former head of the RNC.

Barack Obama called Trump a “con man”; Marco Rubio called him a “con artist.” If politicians as far apart as those two agree on something, it’s probably true. In fact, Trump is a con man and he’s always been one, an unwitting vehicle for establishment conservatism who became a populist because he loves the roar of the crowd. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell don’t even think that Trump is a real conservative, they just know that he has no real ideology or personal convictions. They bet — wisely, it seems — that they could use his Saturn-sized ego and complete disinterest in policy to pass their program of tax cuts, reduced social spending, pro-life legislation and opposition to gun control and environmental protection.

Whatever his differences with Republican orthodoxy may be, Trump lacks the personal ideals and political savvy required to translate them into policy. If you voted for Trump, you voted for establishment conservatism. If that’s what you supported anyway, you made the right move. If not, you got conned.

Donald Trump is not my president. Yes, he is. If Donald Trump issues an executive order, it will apply to you. If Donald Trump starts a war and, with Congress’ help, initiates the draft, you will be drafted and either go to war or jail. If Donald Trump’s new Supreme Court justices overturn Roe v. Wade and you accidentally get pregnant in Texas, you’ll either start shopping for strollers or make a trip east — assuming you can afford to.

#NotMyPresident is self-absorbed, petty, entitled liberalism at its worst. We’re one country with a system we’ve collectively agreed upon to choose our leaders. According to that system, Trump won the election fair and square. Therefore, after he’s inaugurated, he will be your president.

If you think that Trump is an unqualified fraud who fell ass-backwards into a job he doesn’t even understand, then the best thing you can do is oppose him on principle, not abandon your civic responsibility and run to Canada, or cover your eyes and pretend he’s not there.

Donald Trump can be supported without, at least indirectly, supporting racism. Trump’s campaign was openly based on racial animus. His remarks about Hispanics, Muslims and blacks — Paul Ryan himself called his attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel “the textbook definition of a racist comment” — have made him a hero to white nationalists across the country. His political profile was built in the first place on baseless accusations that the first black President was an illegitimate, foreign-born Kenyan. He’s named Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart News, as his chief strategist; former Ku Klux Klan Grandmaster David Duke said Bannon is “basically creating the ideological aspects of where we’re going.”

Not all Donald Trump supporters are racists; in fact, implying that they are only strengthens him. But racially charged language was an essential part of Trump’s appeal. So if you supported him, you have, regardless of your personal feelings towards people of any color, indirectly supported racism.

Max Van Zile is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and writes for the Arts and Entertainment Department. He can be reached at mvanzile@cornellsun.com. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.