What’s okay?

Friday, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.  I’ve had people tell me, “It’ll be fine; sometimes your side loses in politics, but everything will be okay.”


That’s something only the privileged can afford to think, and you know what?... for them it’s probably true.  However, there are many people across this country for whom it simply is not true, whether because of their skin color, national origin, gender, gender expression, able-bodied-ness, or sexual orientation.  Everything is not going to be okay, because we don’t even have a baseline for “okay” anymore.

Mimicking the spastic movements of a disabled man should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Urging his supporters to “beat the crap out of them” referring to people exercising their constitutionally guaranteed first amendment right to protest him should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Bragging that he could grab women by the “pussy” (his exact word) against their will, thus committing sexual assault, should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Peddling a crazy-assed conspiracy theory that the Cuban father of one of his Republican primary opponents was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Repeating as fact disproven stories from Internet chain e-mails that have been indented so many times from being FWD’d to FWD’d to FWD’d from inbox to inbox that you can barely read them should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Claiming he could not release his tax returns as every major party candidate for president has done for the last 40 years because he was under an IRS audit even though the IRS said their audit placed no such restriction on him should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Suggesting the US might not honor its NATO treaty obligations to its allies should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Not knowing what the US nuclear triad is when asked about it should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Proposing that nuclear proliferation in places like Japan and South Korea would be a good thing should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.   Lying by saying that he watched thousands of Muslims cheering on 9/11 in Jersey City, New Jersey when police say there's no evidence this happened should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Suggesting that we as a nation should use torture as a means of extracting information from those we have detained in the war on terror should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.  Promising to defeat ISIS, end the civil war in Syria, resolve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, thwart Iranian aggression and Russia’s reemergence as a hostile superpower, repeal Obamacare which provides health insurance and therefore healthcare to millions who previously did not have it and replace it with something, to use his words, “way better,” all while bringing jobs back to America without offering any serious specifics on “how” he’s going to accomplish any of this should have disqualified Donald Trump; it did not.

And then there’s illegal immigration — the elephant in the room.  Donald Trump became president by promising to build a wall, force a sovereign foreign nation to pay for it (even while that nation said repeatedly it would not), and deport two to three million undocumented immigrants.  Now?  American taxpayers will pay for the wall, cross their fingers and hope that foreign nation will “reimburse” us (they have continued to say they will not and threatened swift retaliation if the US slaps a tariff on goods imported from their country as a clever way to make it seem like they are paying us back), and Ted Hesson at Politico gave a sobering outline of what it would take to execute Mr. Trump’s deportation fantasy:

Trump would need tens of billions of dollars in new spending approved by Congress. He'd also need years to hire and train new legions of enforcement agents, and to deploy hundreds of judges to relieve the nation's severely backlogged immigration courts. And to find even 2 million undocumented immigrants to deport, he'd have to change how he defines criminal acts worthy of removal — or start rounding up people without convictions. Added together, the obstacles could be insurmountable.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the average price tag for each deportation is $12,213, excluding the salaries of the personnel involved. Shall we do the math together?

It will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $24.4 billion dollars over the course of Mr. Trump’s first four years in office to deport two million people.  Additionally, a study published last month by the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center found that his pledge to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would cost businesses an estimated $3.4 billion dollars and reduce Social Security and Medicare funds by $24.6 billion dollars over the next 10 years.  Bottom line:  the American people (well, er, some of them) may have been swayed by Mr. Trump soon to be President Trump’s tough talk on immigrants and immigration, but if the nativism he appealed to becomes reality it will cost every single one of us.

These, and so many, many other things are most assuredly NOT okay, but he’s being sworn in as president Friday anyway, so guess what thoughtful reader?  They’re okay now!  Donald Trump’s election proves it.

Despite his win in the electoral college, we can take some solace in the indisputable fact that his loss by almost 3 million votes in the popular vote count means he couldn’t find a majority, let alone one that demonstrates his dangerous, ignorant, self-aggrandizing, vile, and bigoted views are the norm in the United States — even if they are way more prevalent, or at least palatable to some people than we’d ever have imagined or wanted to admit.  Ultimately, I believe desperate people suffering financial hardship and just trying to get by were willing to trade some vague promises of economic security for a little racism, sexism, narcissism, homophobia, and xenophobia; but when that economic security doesn’t materialize for the overwhelming majority of the American people, or is squandered on militaristic chest-thumping or phantom walls or logistically and financially impossible (and detrimental) mass deportations, all they’ll have left is the hatred and ugliness.  Which is why progressives must continue the fight, so that when conservatives are hoisted by their own economic petard we can at least return to civility as a baseline for the American way of life.

As Americans, we owe the office of the presidency our allegiance, even if the man who will be sworn in this Friday is a loud-mouthed, thin-skinned buffoon who has already disgraced everything it stands for.  President Trump’s party will control two of the three branches of our government; he will appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement, and possibly more, to the third.  It’s up to the rest of us to ensure the US presidency survives this president, and to ensure the things he made “okay” disqualify the man or woman who would be his successor.

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