You Can Care About More Than One Thing (And You’re Going to Have To)

So liberal Twitter today got into an internecine spat about Trump’s comments over Mike Pence being politely addressed by the cast at last night’s showing of Hamilton.  Pence was booed by the audience, and then after the show, actor Brandon Dixon addressed the VP-Elect in a serious but respectful manner.  The following morning, Trump, incensed that anyone would chastise a powerful white guy, said the cast was rude and that they should apologize.  It was Trump being Trump, but it was worth noting his hypocrisy, weakness, and inability to let any slight go by unnoticed.

Or was it?  There was then a counter uproar saying that people who cared about the Hamilton incident were being distracted from the Trump University fraud settlement and that Trump is getting richer by having foreign diplomats stay in his Washington, D.C. hotel.  Trump was using social media as a distraction so people wouldn’t call him on settling the Trump U scandal even after he had previously promised he would never settle (Trump lied! It’s true!).

So we have liberals chastising liberals over the proper way to respond to which scandals, and saying that this is Trump’s genius strategy: throw so many problems at people that they can’t focus, and he can get away with everything.  There are just a few problems with this.

1) If “Trump Wins by Being on Twitter” was true, then why did his staff force him off of it in the final weeks of the campaign?  “Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully — and often counterproductively — savage his rivals,” wrote the New York Times on November 6th.  The more Trump opens his mouth, the more opportunities people have to attack him, and during the campaign, his aides were smart enough to realize that if he could just shut the fuck up for more than two weeks, the news cycle would consume Hillary Clinton.  (This, by the way, is not the sole reason Clinton lost)

2) Trump may have a lot of issues, but it’s not your place to tell people what they can and can’t care about. People are scared and hurting right now, and trying to police that outrage is sanctimonious and counter-productive.  Let’s go back to the campaign, and assume that if all liberals had just focused on one issue to the neglect of all others, then Trump would have lost.  So what issue should it have been?  His sexist comments?  His racist comments? His lack of political experience? His dealings with Russia?  The Trump University fraud?  Who gets to decide what’s important to everyone?  Do you want to be the one who tells a woman who was sexually assaulted, “Hey, it’s rough, but we’ve got to keep the focus on his ties to Russia.”  Do you want to tell the Muslim man, “I know he wants to criminalize being Muslim, but we can only care about his sexual assault charges.”

Trump does pose a unique problem in that he is a non-stop (to borrow one of his few and favorite words) disaster.  It is difficult to pin him down to any one thing, but that makes it more important for all of us to care about all of it.  And I know that’s exhausting.  I know that in the last 10 days, it’s been nightmarish, and it’s not going to get any easier.  Life is going to be hard, and it’s going to suck for a while, but telling people what they can and can’t care about isn’t a solution.  Every day is going to be a struggle, and there’s no saying, “You are only allowed to care about these things.”  It’s incumbent on all of us to hold Trump and his administration accountable 24/7.  If that means today we rail against him for chastising artists, wiggling out of a fraud trial, filling his cabinet with racists, and profiting off foreign diplomats staying at his hotel, then that’s what the day calls for.  It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be fun, and there is no alternative.

Saturday, November 19th, 2016 criticism, politics

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