Let’s Focus, Shall We

In this, the dawn of the administration of Donald Trump, our the 45th President of the United States, many of my fellow liberals are continuing the collective tizzy that has had them enthralled since November. I will, of course, defend their rights to protest — civilly — and I believe there is much to protest. But it’s time to start letting go of some of the drama that just isn’t going to go anywhere, especially with Republican control of the legislative branch.

First, while I have no qualms with anyone having avoided the inauguration, doing so on the premise that Trump’s presidency is illegitimate won’t do anything outside the democratic echo chamber. He won the election. It doesn’t matter how many millions of votes that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by, Donald Trump won the electoral college. There were no “Hamilton Electors” to prevent a Trump presidency. Please move forward. This is reality. Accept it.

Russia

While there was Russian interference —Trump, himself, has acknowledged that Russia hacked into DNC emails, following his briefing on the election hacks — there is no evidence that there was any interference with any voting machines. We knew before that election that Russia had been involved. It was discussed during the debates. Trump may have cast doubt on Russian involvement from the beginning, but I’ll accept his acknowledgement as a confirmation that he saw clear evidence during his briefing.

Still, people voted for him, knowing that there was a specter of potential foreign involvement. Russia did not cast those ballots. What should concern us more is the potential compromise of President Trump to blackmail by Russia. The US intelligence services provided Trump and former President Obama with a private dossier on potentially damning information that could be used against Trump. I won’t link to the controversial Buzzfeed article because the information is unverified.

Publishing this information — which, naturally, Trump has claimed is false — will make it more difficult to hold it over his head as a bargaining chip, unless there’s hard evidence of any of it out there. Right now, they’re all just allegations. They should be investigated by Congress, preferably by a select committee rather than the Intelligence Committees, in the interest of transparency. In the interim. Mr. Trump is the President of the United States, whether we like it or not.

We, as a people, should pay close attention for evidence of deference toward Russian interests that are against our own or against those of our NATO allies. Short of that, we can’t really do anything.

The Trump Organization

There are also many complaints about his decision to maintain his financial stake in his business. While it may be morally repugnant for him to profit as a businessman from decisions he makes as the president, there is apparently no legal proscription against this. Indeed, the emoluments clause only bans profits from foreign governments. Technically, as long has the Trump Organization’s foreign dealings are with private companies, those can continue, legally.

His plan to cede control of the business to his sons and to not discuss the business with them is laughable, and he may very well be setting himself up to violate the emoluments clause. But we have to accept that he’s not going to have a blind trust put in charge of his assets during his presidency. All we can do is keep our eyes open to potential violations of the law.

“Not my President”

The broad “not my president” protests will go nowhere. Any protest we have to resist his policies must be focused. Many of his cabinet selections appear to be woefully unqualified. Call your senators to let them know that you don’t support those nominees. I have the Maine Senatorial delegations’ Washington phone numbers programmed into my phone, and I’ve made calls to both to get my two cents in about the nominations.

But I’ve actually looked at their qualifications. I left messages with reasons why I think the nominees aren’t qualified. I wasn’t thrilled with Betsy DeVos’ nomination for the Secretary of Education. I was much less thrilled to learn that she’d donated to the campaigns of many who will be voting on her confirmation, and her confirmation hearing was an embarrassment. I let my senators know as much.

It’s important that we have a point and that we can express it reasonably. If we expect to make a difference, outside of our echo chambers, we need to be able to convince people who don’t necessarily agree with us. Our friends on the right will just scoff at generalized “not my president” protests. Do you recall how foolish you thought people were when they claimed that President Obama was coming for their guns? That’s exactly how foolish they think the “not my president” argument is.

Any protest of the new administration must have a specific focus. There may be dark days ahead for supporters of progressive issues. We must be able to make clear arguments to support those causes. If we do not, those causes will fail.

So far — to the best of my knowledge — President Trump has not committed an impeachable offense. If we’re not paying attention, we won’t see it. Focus, people.

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