(AUTHOR'S NOTE: With Congress coming back tomorrow, I thought I'd repost the early January epic "Seven Things Not to Do When Donald Trump Takes Office" -- slightly rewritten and retitled, of course, to reflect the passage of time since the New Year, and also to conform with my video, "Seven Things to Avoid Doing Now that Donald Trump is President." I thought it'd be a good way to assess how we're doing, and to remind us of our real relationship to our Congressfolk (i.e., that we're the boss of them, not the other way around). So take a few minutes to re-read it -- and have a happy Labor Day holiday, because you know what? You earned it.)
A great many of us fear the next four or eight years of a Donald Trump Presidency, and for good reason. But this moment in our history also offers a unique clarity: no longer can we fantasize about Democrats protecting us from the worst that Republicans do, not merely because, well, they've never been very good at that, but also because they can't now. Only we can protect ourselves from the worst they'll do, and the sooner we understand that, and practice that, and live that, the better. Hence I offer seven things we should avoid doing when Mr. Trump ascends to the Presidency.
1) Do not bother with media horserace coverage. The media treat everything like it's a big sporting event, and they treat you like a spectator. They routinely choose sensationalism over substance, and they're a big reason we're stuck with Donald Trump as our President right now. If they obsess about something (like, say, Russian hacking), you can pretty much assume it's not worth your time -- or that they want to distract you from something more important (like, say, vote suppression). And when they report on fissures within the Republican party, you should assume any such "fissures," or reports about them, are feints, designed to lull you into a false sense of security so that you don't do your duty to your country by communicating your will to your representatives. Certainly do not bother with media speculation on how much of the coming horror is Mr. Trump's fault and how much is Mr. Pence's, or that of Republicans, or Democrats. If we're all hurting, it doesn't matter -- it only matters what we do about it.
2) Do not accept the narrow choices Our Glorious Elites offer in policy debates. Whenever they talk about government deficits, the only choice they offer is spending cuts; about Social Security, benefit cuts; and about Medicare, privatization. But we know better: we can (for example) cut deficits by closing corporate tax loopholes and bringing back the 91% tax bracket on millionaire income. And we can improve Social Security by lifting the cap on payroll taxes so income over $117,000 can be taxed into the system. And we can improve Medicare by letting it negotiate its own drug prices and by hiring more investigators to stamp out fraud. There are always good alternatives to the moronic ideas Our Glorious Elites peddle -- after all, isn't America the can-do country that always finds a way?
3) Do not support Democrats. Not just because they're weak, and not just because their weakness has enabled the coming horror, but because it's not your job, as a citizen, to "support" a politician -- it's the politician's job to support you. They're supposed to do our will regardless of what party they belong to, regardless of what ideology they profess to hold, so don't concentrate on getting more of them into office who might listen to us: just call them and email them and demonstrate in front of their offices and ask them pointed questions at public events until they have no choice but to listen to us. Now, Democrats will ask you to soft-pedal your demands -- they'll say your demands don't help them hold the center, or something. Ignore them when they do. Seven short years ago, they held the Presidency, a 70-seat majority in the House, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and still they lectured us about "the art of the possible," rather than widening the palette of the possible, as Republicans always do, regardless of their numbers in Congress. Remember: your will is your will, your duty to communicate it to your representatives is inviolate, and any Democrat who insinuates otherwise deserves defeat.
4) Do not "give Donald Trump a chance." Of course we all want him to do well, despite the multitudinous indications that he won't, but "giving him a chance" is, again, beside the point of our democracy -- our job is to express our will, and his job is to execute that will. And there is no "waiting and seeing" in the country we love; there is only doing, and people who tell you to "give him a chance" (or "accept the results," or "get over it") really have a different aim in mind: they want you to be silent, because they're afraid if you're not silent, you'll make good things happen in America. And when good things happen in America, Our Glorious Elites don't get richer. And anyway, Donald Trump is going to be a pretty terrible President. You wouldn't look at a mound of dung in the middle of the sidewalk and "give it a chance" to magically transform itself into meatloaf, would you?
5) When terrorists inflict a 9.11-sized (or larger!) attack upon us -- and we just know they will, though we don't know where or when -- do not "pull for Trump" the way we all pulled for Mr. Bush after 9.11. In fact, your solemn and immediate duty as an American citizen is to criticize Mr. Trump for failing to keep us safe. And when I say "immediate" I mean "the minute of." He deserves no less, having already strutted around like he knows everything (more than "the generals," even!) while ignoring most of his early intelligence briefings. All this, after 54% of the electorate voted for someone else for President! If his cock-swinging arrogance means anything, it means he gets no grading on a curve when it comes to protecting our country. And don't flinch when Our Glorious Elites then say "how dare you attack the President at a time like this!" Criticizing the President, at any time, is one of your inviolable rights as an American, so do not be silent when Our Glorious Elites bid us be silent -- be ten times as loud. For America is greater than any one President, and criticizing a President does not injure our country. And anyone who thinks it does is a weakling. Make sure you tell everybody that, and make sure you use the word "weakling." Our Glorious Elites love calling us weaklings, so they deserve some of their own.
6) Do not take slurs on your character lying down. When people say "you hate America" or "you're a traitor" or "you're with the terrorists" or "you want Donald Trump to fail," do not be courteous in response -- be fierce, and don't be afraid to shame people who attack you like that. Too many liberals think shaming is something only conservatives do, but it's not -- it's something civilized people do, to anyone who injures their community. And certainly don't worry whether you're "too angry" or not, because such slurs against your character deserve nothing but anger -- and besides, your enemies will say you're "too angry" even when your voice is perfectly even and low. But when they attack you, remember this: Our Glorious Elites are morally and intellectually bankrupt. Their program of austerity-for-the-people-but-gluttony-for-themselves has led to disaster all over the world, so they can't win arguments on the merits -- all they can do is lie about our patriotism, our strength, our intelligence, our commitment, and our character. Don't be afraid to give them hell when they do. Because hell is what they deserve.
7) Do not allow Our Glorious Elites to sow doubt inside you. You are right, and they are wrong. It's that simple! If you want our government to provide the good services we've paid for with our taxes and then leave us alone, you are right, and the people who want to cut your services and funnel your hard-earned taxpayer money to their cronies and spy on your every move are wrong. And if you have learned (either from emotionally manipulative people or from post-modern literary theorists) that there really is no such thing as good and evil, unlearn it now. Our Glorious Elites are evil, and they know we know that, so they're going to try to take everything from us -- our right to dissent, our right to privacy, our right to clean air and clean water, our right to an economy that works for all of us, our right to protection from financial predators, our right to not have the crap kicked out of us by police, and our right to a safe and secure old age. Taking away these things is evil, and the people who would take them away are evil. So the time for navel-gazing is past. The time for civilized action is now.
Most of us have now twice experienced eight-year Democrat Administrations that consistently failed us. A far-right Republican Administration, one that ran roughshod over our rights and listened only to its super-rich cronies, followed the first one, and by all indications, a worse far-right Republican Administration will follow the second. That could mean 32 years of America vacillating between weak Democrats and malicious Republicans, and we have got to break that wheel. But we're not going to break that wheel by helping out the damn Democrats. We will only break that wheel by saying no to Our Glorious Elites' attempts to make us spectators in our own democracy, in our own country, and by speaking out so powerfully that politicians from both parties will have no choice but to follow us. So when your friends and relatives and neighbors ask you "what do you think will happen under Donald Trump?" you should give one answer and one answer only: whatever we make happen. Because that is the stone-cold truth. Either we, the American people, stop Our Glorious Elites from destroying the country we love -- or no one does.