Choose your lines in the sand

November 14, 2016

This is an open letter to everyone in America, but especially to anyone who thinks a Trump administration might not be as bad as it seems. So, mostly straight white guys, and a few straight white women.

If there is one ray of hope in Trump’s election, it’s that he’s untrustworthy. He’s the type of man who would say anything to “win,” and now that he’s won, there’s no guarantee he’ll follow through on his heinous promises. He’s already off the rails from Republican orthodoxy in many ways, and he could continue to defy them—and many of his followers will come along. He could end up, possibly inadvertently, using his newfound power for good. Republican presidents can always go to the left easier than Democrats can (& same for the reverse), because the opposition will see their shift for what it is while at least some of their allies will come along to avoid defying their president.

Of course, there’s little hope of this in regards to racial issues, nor voting rights, gender issues, or LGBTQ ones. He might not screw up the economy, though. Maybe.

To my (straight, white, male) friends who are hoping he’s liar enough to be a sub-catastrophic president, here’s my advice to you: choose your lines in the sand now. Decide on the actions which, if Trump and Pence and Ryan and McConnell and Roberts cross that line, that is your breaking point. Maybe it’s the repeal of Obamacare, or the registration of Muslims, or the end of the filibuster, or the further gutting of voting rights. It might be right now. Pick your lines in the sand—I suggest having multiple, for there are many ways an administration can go—and then watch.

I’m serious. Pick them right now. Before this week is out, pick your lines in the sand, and decide how you will act if they’re crossed. Evil takes hold in the same way as success—slowly, and then all at once. Every movie star or hit technology is a ten-year overnight success, and every vile regime is the sum total of a thousand shuffling steps toward darkness. If you don’t decide now when you will act, and how you will act, the world will sneak up on you—and soon, you’ll have nothing left to fight for.

You don’t have to act yet if your line hasn’t been crossed. So far what’s been exchanged is words, and while words are undeniably dangerous, more dangerous than most people respect—see the violence and bigotry being perpetuated in Trump’s name against Americans all over the country right now—but actions are worse. You can hold out hope for a while, if that’s what you need, but prepare yourself now.

I have begun to act, and I’m deciding on my further lines in the sand. Do likewise. Even if you voted for him, do likewise—because if he comes for the immigrants, and the Muslims, and liberals who speak out against him, he might one day come for you too. With a man like Trump, be vigilant. Even if he’s your man, be vigilant. We should always hold politicians accountable, but this man most of all. He threatens us all.

As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).

By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

9 Comments

  1. Reply

    john

    I’ll preface this with: I voted. I didn’t vote for Trump. I don’t like Trump. I don’t think Trump was the best person for the job.

    And you think it’s bad that people judge HRC even though she hasn’t been prosecuted. Trump hasn’t done anything yet. The POTUS can’t make laws. The POTUS can’t repeal laws. The POTUS can only sign off on laws that the congress has already made and passed.

    The people complaining that Trump is going to ruin the world are the ones that don’t seem to understand how our government works.

    Your best bet it write to your lawmakers to ensure that they know what kind of laws you expect them to pass and which laws you expect them to respect.

    You should inspect your theories on what you expect trump to ruin, and see what kind of work he’d have to do to accomplish that. Otherwise, all you’re doing is spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).

    1. Reply

      Stephen W. Gee

      I wish the US government works like you claim it works. I really do.

      Yes, the president does not make laws, but they often guide priorities. More to the point, while I mention Trump predominately in this post, future ones (including the next one) will be addressed to Pence, Ryan, McConnell, and the rest of the GOP majority. The Republican House and Senate can cross those line just as Trump can, and probably will.

      But unfortunately, while the POTUS can’t write laws, they can write executive orders. They are also in charge of enforcing laws, which means they can choose whether to enforce laws that are on the books. Obama chose to not enforce federal marijuana laws, which makes sense since some states have legalized it. Trump doesn’t need new laws to start deporting people. They’re already on the books. He just has to decide to enforce them.

      As for writing my lawmaker, that’s silly—don’t write. Call. Always call them. It’s a much more effective way to get their attention. Either way, my goal is to encourage people beyond myself to take action like that, which I should mention in a future post (thanks). Otherwise it’s just me, and that may not be enough.

  2. Reply

    john

    Yes, I’m not a fan of executive orders. But you must also note that President Obama sets a bad precedent with the number of executive orders he’s issued. Some of which come very close to being actual laws which should only be the scope of congress. While I think executive orders are important, I sometimes feel they are overused and probably even abused.

    I do agree that the President often sets the policies for the country. We can hope that Trump surrounds himself with smart people and not more people like Pence. I have a feeling that Trump will delegate most of his policy choices and be hands off. This is possibly scary, or possibly a good thing based on who he picks.

    1. Reply

      Stephen W. Gee

      Obama was largely pushed to act as he did by a Congress that was dysfunctional to the point of inaction. That doesn’t entirely excuse his expansion of presidential power—preferable would be to reform congress so he didn’t need to utilize executive orders as he did, though that’s faaaaaar easier said than done—but it remains that he did what he did because Republicans were far more advanced at the obstruction game than Dems were under Dubya. The Repubs were ahead of the curve, in a way that damages us all.

      Early signs are that Trump isn’t going to surround himself with smart people, just loyal ones. Oh, and Pence seems to have a lot of influence in the administration so far. Not good signs. That dude is the most evil beige crayon I’ve ever seen.

      1. Reply

        john

        lol, all good points. Thanks for the thinking material.

  3. Reply

    Steven

    Stephen,

    I thoroughly enjoy your writing. I like your emails. You even replied to me once and I remember feeling good about it. So please take this in the nicest possible way.

    Do some breathing exercises, try yoga, practice meditation… Whatever calms you down.

    Your neighbors are still the same people they were two weeks ago. Given the geographic sorting the parties have been doing, the odds are very good that your neighbors share your politics and so do those of every minority group you care to name.

    So let’s take a moment to listen to what is actually being said. Obama quite rightly pointed out that we all owe Trump an open mind. Trump himself responded to the news that abuses were being done in his name by looking right into the camera and commanding “Stop it”. At this point most of the violence on the streets are the pro-Hillary “protesters” rioting in direct defiance of their previous insistence that “refusing to accept the results of the election would be unAmerican.” Funny how the standards change when the liberal lose.

    America split pretty much down the middle on this one, but the side that had been getting extorted, ignored, and insulted for most of the last decade finally won a round again. The pendulum thus swings back from the rising inequality of globalism and totalitarian intolerance of the cultural far left back toward the centrist values, both economic and social, that built this country. That’s a good thing.

    Perhaps you don’t empathize with the people to whom that is a great relief. If so, that reflects poorly on you, not them. The campaigns are over, the mainstream media ruined their credibility so badly that only 6% think they were both honest and fair in their election coverage (e.g. they repeatedly broke laws to help Clinton and stopped pretending to any impartiality). If you’re in that percentage there isn’t much I can do but ask you to simply keep an open mind and take a few steps outside the echo chambers to see with your own eyes what the man does with the next four years.

    Because frankly, Trump hasn’t even taken office yet and I’m tired of this BS. I lived through the Obama years too. Obamacare was designed to fail and is doing so rapidly, radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on our country and taken American lives on our soil, it was Democrats who already gutted the filibuster because Republicans were using it, and it makes no sense whatsoever to have stricter ID requirements to drive to the polling place than to actually cast a ballot electing the leader of the nation. Fixing that is common sense centrist, not extreme right.

    Perhaps it wasn’t clear when Obama said that he didn’t have the Constitutional authority to prevent deportations (which he then contradicted himself by doing anyway), but it is literally in the job description of the President to uphold the Constitution and enforce the law. That includes immigration law. That also includes vetting would-be legal immigrants. The only thing crazy here is that so few people noticed that Hillary came up with it first and Donald just yelled it louder. Go watch the 3rd debate again, increased border security, including a fence, and an “Intel surge” was part of her agenda also. Trump straight up “borrowed” half his policy positions from Obama and Hillary. He’s further left than anyone who’s run in the Republican ticket.

    Thankfully the party that actually believes in not rewriting or bypassing the Constitution is back in charge. That means that despite Obama pushing executive authority far beyond its limits, Trump’s own first SCOTUS appointment will restore that limit. Whatever else you might think, there’s no way in hell Congress will approve anyone who won’t reel him in if necessary. So chill, read a history book, it’s fascinating how much of the apocalyptic rhetoric thrown at Trump is exactly what the left said about Ronald Reagan while he was running for President. That election surprised them too. Turned out pretty well for the country though.

    I have doubts that Trump will turn out that well, but at least he remembers that “free exercise of religion” is in the First Amendment. So that will be a nice change of pace from the last eight years of my government trying to criminalize Christianity and put grown men in the locker room with little girls. Because that? That would have crossed the line in the sand for a lot of people. The thing about a pluralistic society is that people will disagree with you on things. They did, they did so in very large numbers, but they did so legally and in an orderly fashion. Democracy happened. So I’m going to give you one of the few pieces of non-insulting/vulgar advice I received after Obama won, “Hope for the best and be a good neighbor.”

    Also, quit spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The people who agree with you are already stressed enough and the people who don’t are already fed up with it. Respect the process and wait for an actual scandal before you climb onto your soapbox again. Besides, I want your next book.

    PS: you wanted ideas for a subscriber bonus. I’d like a short story with a divine caster as the main character. We haven’t seen a sympathetic character of that type yet.

    1. Reply

      Stephen W. Gee

      I actually do meditate, so don’t worry. I’m as calm as my bruising work schedule allows. I’m not coming at this because I’m overreacting. I’m saying these things because I’ve read a decent amount of history, and I see patterns repeating. Patterns that go to bad places. That doesn’t mean we’ll go that way! But the threat is there. Thus I’ll speak out, and do what I can so that we don’t go that route.

      Put another way: I might be overreacting. I hope I am. I’d just rather overreact and look foolish than under-react and have to explain to future generations what I was doing when it all went to hell.

      I actually do empathize with the people who find Trump’s election a relief, either because of who he is or because he’s not Hillary. Remember, I’m not done writing about this, and I have a major interest in systems as a way to take willpower out of the equation when it comes to constructing a good life. That’s as true in pubic life as it is in my personal endeavors. I’ve got posts upcoming about that. The problem is that the system is set up so that well-intentioned people are forced to choose between two options they might not like, rather than also have a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio, a Bernie Sanders, a Gary Johnson, and a Jill Stein to vote for in the same election—and without them serving as spoilers against the main two. More on that in future posts.

      I’m not going to go into the rest of your points ’cause I’m not here to argue against Republican orthodoxy. I don’t like a lot of it, but if this election was between Hillary and Mitt Romney, I wouldn’t be PLEASED if Mitt won, but I wouldn’t be writing these posts. The issue is that Trump isn’t a standard Republican. Your example of living through Obama years is false equivalence—I would reply that I lived through the Dubya years, which is a better example. (More of ’em than most, since I’m from Texas.) Dubya didn’t turn out to be a great president, but he wasn’t dangerous to the country or the constitution in the same way Trump is. Ditto to Obama. They were/are career public servants with an understanding and vested interest in keeping the American system of government going, as flawed as it is.

      Trump is not. Trump is not normal.

      I actually do hope for the best. I hope I’m wrong. I hope Trump surprises us all—I just don’t expect it. And every time he promotes someone like Steve Bannon to an official government position, that hope diminishes.

      On your PS: That’s a good idea. The only issue is that I already have a character like that planned (maybe for the next book! *teaser* *maybe* *who knows*). I’ll have to think on that, see if there’s another div main char story I’d like to tell right now. Hmm.

      1. Reply

        Steven

        I can respect that. Thanks for your reply. I’ll look forward to the next blog and see where the conversation goes. It sounds like we may have similar interests in terms of systems.

        Just, try to keep to that more measured tone please. I do believe that you have the skills as a writer to lay out your case without adding to all the fear mongering.

      2. Reply

        Steven

        Oh, just ran across this. It’s by another blogger with whom I sometimes disagree, but who has very much impressed me with his dedication to reason. You might find it interesting.

        http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/you-are-still-crying-wolf/

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