We’ve entered an era of extreme incivility, goaded by Trump, that least civil of men. I’m no fan of Sara Huckabee Sanders — or her father, who tweeted that Nancy Pelosi’s staff are MS13 gang members — but I shake my head at her being asked to leave a restaurant. I get it: the restaurant owner was giving the message that actions and choices have consequences. Had I been in the restaurant as a customer, I’d have been glad to see her and her party go. Sociopathic Trump advisor Stephen Miller and DHS Secretary Nielson also met protests while eating at Mexican restaurants, of all things. This surely has to be the most tone deaf administration on the planet. But open interpersonal warfare like this is at the very least uncivil. Living in a democracy depends on civility, to a large extent. There is no real alternative.
I wish the Republicans who are all in for Trump because they think the economy is humming and the borders are being hardened and white Christian voters are in ascendance would take a larger view. The economy is only humming for some of us, not for the 40M poor, some of whom live in circumstances rivaling a third world country. The borders are being hardened at the cost of repudiating the core American narrative: we are a country of immigrants. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York tells that story every day: it’s the best and brightest, the strongest and the most hopeful, who fight their way to our shores. They make our country more energetic, and better. Trump is lying about immigration, deliberately playing on people’s fears in the most destructive way possible. White Christian voters are not threatened by laws that protect the civil rights of others; if there is a threat, it comes from within these religious bodies themselves. If people aren’t going to church, it’s not because gay couples won the right to marry. it’s because of the weakening of church institutions as a pillar of community life.
What’s the end game with Trump? He’s doing his best to marginalize our laws across the board, reflecting his own weakness at working with others to get things done. He wants to rule by fiat. Sessions is trying to roll back civil rights protections put in place over the last 50 years. So is Betsy DeVos, whose Education Department has abandoned over 1000 civil rights investigations involving minority students. The economic team is trying hard to make the rich richer, and to curtail the safety net for middle America. Ben Carson wants to make life so hard for the poor that they’ll arbitrarily stand up and go to work.
Most damaging, Trump is creating a political narrative in which truth no longer matters.
This is not my America. But right now, it’s the America of choice for 90% of Republican voters.