Empty bleachers for the inauguration. Strident protests before the administration's even done anything. Media and elites strongly, outspokenly against the administration's mere existence. Part of me is heartened by these things! In the cartoon view, the good guys are showing strength.
But this isn't a cartoon. If there's anyone in America besides me that actually wants Donald Trump to find and act from his better nature - to at least attempt to be a good president for everyone, and not use the office solely as a platform to unrestrainedly act out his mental health issues - then you have to wonder what good this does.
Donald Trump may or may not have a better nature, and may or may not be capable of rising to act from such a basis. But one thing's for damn sure: America's most transactional man is not going to rise above provocation. He won't discover his better nature in a headwind. Decency is a heavy enough lift for him, and we're imposing heavy handicaps, besides. We're goading him. We're provoking him. We want to see the very worst Trump.
This happened to Obama, too. They threw everything imaginable at him from the get-go. Yet he never reciprocated. Per the cliche, he went high when they went low, working from the Christ/Gandhi/MLK playbook. Trump won't do that. Can't do that.
So unless we have a yearning to see the very worst Donald Trump (and I'm convinced many of his opponents do; much as the NRA truly wanted Obama to act to take their guns away and are absolutely incensed that he never did), there's something wrong with this picture.
I understand this line of thinking will strike some as appeasement. I'm suggesting we kowtow to our new president so he doesn't get his dander up and act mean to us. I'm a weak sniveler. But I can't counter that, because it's feeling (i.e. fear and hatred) masquerading as thinking. What I see here is that the left loves to deem people beyond-the-pale (the right does, too, but the left has made an art of it), and that this is a seriously unhealthy thing. And this miserable, brutally ignorant conman narcissistic asshole is the ultimate test of that. In fact, it's a more advanced test than we're remotely ready for. If ever we had a villain calling out to be treated with total desensitized disrespect, this is the guy.
If he's indeed beyond the pale - inhuman and therefore deserving of utter annihilation in every respect, from every angle, to the end of time, even at the cost of our nation's success in the coming years - then we're doing it right! But the Left has been worrying (justifiably) that human evolution is heading the wrong way - away from a future where everyone is treated with tolerance, love, and respect. But, meanwhile, they've been goading, inciting, and provoking as hard as possible to spark that very same turn. The problem's never the thing; it's always the reciprocation. The cascading ripples, not the stone. As I've been asking here for years:
Will we human beings ever learn to react to extremism with enlightened moderation rather than with reciprocal extremism?
The Christ/Gandhi/MLK thing wasn't about being patsies. That line of opposition (and it is opposition!) comes from strength. That's why it's not appeasement. That's why it doesn't enable evil, as more militant partisans inevitably claim. Most Trump opposers would claim to grasp and admire the Christ/Gandhi/MLK approach, while simultaneously regarding anything less than scorched earth hatred as shameless appeasement. I don't know how to help them resolve their contradiction.
Try this, though: a Democracy means that all types get a chance to run things. Even the idiots. Democracy isn't about your guy winning. That's the opposite of democracy. Democracy means we put up with idiots running the country from time to time. That's the gig!!
I keep linking to this page about the Intolerance Paradox. Every paradox has its perfect test case. And I fear that we are, alas, flunking with Trump.