Don’ts for the Trump Era

How we behave can affect whether Trump becomes a Putin-esque dictator or whether we get our democracy back. Here are some things I think we should not do.

  • Don’t Get Distracted. For all his intellectual failings Trump is a genius at manipulation and distraction. It will be very easy — as the media did throughout the campaign — to allow shiny fluff like his 3 am tweets to distract us from what’s actually important. I have argued in The Worst Problem With Trump that Trump’s violations of law and the Constitution should be our central focus; I’m concerned that we will let him off the hook for violating the law by chasing after an infinity of awful but lawful policies and decisions. But whether you agree with me on this or not, don’t lose sight of whatever you think is most important.
  • Don’t Burn Out. We will be subjected to a veritable tsunami of upsetting information every day of the Trump Era. Each day’s news will cause us heartbreak and outrage, horror and fear. Disconnect for a while if it becomes too much to bear! Take time to breathe, and enjoy your life. But when you can, come back to the fray.
  • Don’t Sink to Trump’s Level. Some have said that to counter Trump Democrats must resort to similar tactics — lies, manipulation, and the ruthless use of power (this last currently being limited to the Senate filibuster). I say no: that isn’t who we are, it isn’t who we should become, and it isn’t how we will prevail. While I think the “arc of history” idea is sentimental b.s. I also believe that values matter and that very often sound and humane values will eventually win out.
  • Don’t Break the Law (Unless You Decide To). Trump and his minions will be most happy to have the FBI search your apartment or office and take away your computers, then lock you up and throw away the key. Don’t give them the opening! That said, there’s a time and place for nonviolent civil disobedience, so do what you feel is necessary so long as you’ve considered and accepted the consequences.
  • Don’t Get Violent. I think violence plays into Trump’s hands, by giving him justification to declare martial law. I don’t think we should use violence at all while there is any chance of preserving democracy through other means.
  • Don’t Normalize. These are not normal times and Trump is not a normal President. We can’t afford to give him the benefit of the doubt, since there is no doubt. When friends waver we must remind them that the Trump Era is #NotNormal and must never become “the new normal.”
  • Don’t Give Up.

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