For years, conservatives tossed around the Richard Weaver phrase that “ideas have consequences.” Someone needs to write a book, Elections Have Consequences. Cue, now, the Theodore White story about Barry Goldwater actually running as Barry Goldwater. Surprise: The candidate who ran as a Republican and won is actually putting together a Republican administration.
But, whether it’s our liberal friends who still question and email and text us asking us to justify the latest story about Donald Trump or one of his appointments, actors on Broadway, or professional and paid columnists who seem not to understand the first rule of politics (“Other people may disagree with you”), here’s an apology that may just work to take all these sociology and anthropology majors back to their Introduction to Political Science courses: “I’m sorry, Donald Trump is not a Democrat and I’m sorry the Republican Party is different from the Democratic Party. Welcome to America.”
Will that do it? Will that calm all the fears about ruined Thanksgivings or satisfy the New York Times columnists who still see a yet-to-be-sworn-in President Trump as ushering in an era of “the beginning of the end,” “a tomorrow that is bleak for anyone who held hope that he could be a different, better man” “a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy,” “hostile to the interests” of women and minorities?
Will it satisfy soi disant “conservatives” who write that Michael Flynn (co-author of a recent book with respected conservative and foreign policy expert Michael Ledeen) is an “intemperate, loose cannon who lacks the decorum and ethics one expects from someone in high office”? Or that Steve Bannon carries the water for “racist and anti-Semitic musings of white nationalists”?
Of course, and always, the proof against Bannon is the same tired three pieces of evidence every other critic has recycled and has been answered for well over two weeks. Hiring Orthodox Jews, supporting Israel, employing Israelis in Israel, is simply dismissed as not proof of lack of anti-semitism—that would be too inconvenient for the world of facts we are all supposed to now live in, you know, absent “fake news.” Well aware of the distinction and argument over anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, is it too much to ask for the name of one anti-Semite who is pro-Israel and hires Orthodox Jews?
I get the antipathy toward fake news. Of course—news used to mean something. But what of fake opinion—opinion grounded in pure conjecture, absent little if any proof, marshaling tired and long-ago dismissed and disproved evidence?
Perhaps we should all ask for a new Great Relearning where we don’t all have to “start from zero.” What does not starting from zero look like, just now? This, just this: That more than 61 million Americans did not vote for a racist, misogynistic, anti-semitic administration. That those 61 million-plus Americans might simply believe in a country whose illegal immigration policies should follow the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution and still be somewhat more liberal than, say, Mexico’s illegal immigration policies. That appeasement of radical Islam needs to end. That taxes and regulations are too high. That Jeff Sessions’ views of civil rights—where one can at once celebrate the work and sacrifice of Rosa Parks and yet think Title VII has become the opposite of its color-blind intentions—are actually consonant with a respectable view of civil rights.
But all of this requires a little common sense and a little patience. Common sense used to be in the mainstream. My prediction is that Donald Trump’s presidency will help usher that back in, just as Ronald Reagan’s did a generation ago. Of course, right or wrong, all of this requires the virtue of just a little time. It also requires the understanding that to a great many people, tens of millions, it was the Obama presidency, and its continuation under Hillary Clinton, that was actually radical. Again, the first rule of politics, please.
I understand that paid writers must write, but it should not be too much for us to ask they help calm our waters rather than put us in a constant state of revolution or re-election. Donald Trump becomes the president in 59 days. He then is entitled to his first 100 days, however long that lasts. For those who still think elections matter, and that there was a reason—or good set of reasons—that a great many Obama voters actually changed their minds to give another view a chance, let’s give them, democracy, and our fellow citizens their due.
Too much to ask? If it is, the conclusion can only be that America is not being poorly governed but that America has become ungovernable. This, we should all refuse to believe.