I’ve been hearing / reading this a lot. The more aggressive version is You lost, get over it! The polite version is Give Trump a chance. [He may turn out to be a good president after all.] Signs are showing that President-elect Donald Trump is still the same guy he was before he got elected. They said Hitler would mellow out too. (He didn’t.)
But a lot of people are making this statement, whether in response to the ongoing #notmypresident protests or part of a dialog regarding criticisms of Trump’s policies or aghast reactions to his staff selections or predictions of how things are going to go down.
Such a dismissal is telling.
For one, the sentiment suggests the speaker believes Trump might be a normal president. 20th century presidents endeavored to make small-step gradual policy changes consistent with their respective ideologies with the intent to benefit the people of the United States. Trump’s stated platform and statements imply a much more radical agenda that would alienate and outlaw millions, and that may well transform the United States into something completely unrecognizable to those who lived before Trump.
This is not entirely particular to Donald Trump. I, for one, would never have imagined throughout the cold war, the United States openly engaging in torture, hiring mercenaries, ignoring due process or spying on US citizens, but we do all these things, and plenty of people believe that these are sound policies. Even our normal presidents (of which George W. Bush and Barack Obama endeavored to be) have been affected by the perpetual state of emergency. Compounded with Trump’s radicalism puts the United States and its people in profound danger.
But getting back to our naysayer, for two, I can infer from a get over it statement an understanding that activism as ends at the election. It’s a high-stakes sports game, in which there’s a winner and a loser. The winners revel in their victory and the losers lament their defeat and in the meantime our government is left to make the hard decisions too complicated for us proles.
And to be fair, this comes with a comfortable fantasy, one that I was taught through the twentieth century and was affirmed by The West Wing, that before officials make decisions, they actually study the crap out of the circumstances and weigh heavily on who and how many will benefit or be affected by the policy one way or another.
It may have been true at some point. The perpetual state of a nuclear standoff with the USSR seemed to give our officials a profound sense of responsibility of being part of something bigger than themselves. But these days representatives are willing to base policy on their own lie that (say) well over 90% of Planned Parenthood is abortions (about 3% of the non-profit’s funding goes to providing abortions. Most of the budget goes to countless other health and education services.)
And this is to say that I would be engaged in activism even if Clinton were elected President of the United States. Many of the issues that concern me most are not acknowledged by our candidates at all. Clinton was the drone strike candidate. Trump was the even more drone strikes candidate. And he’s going to be the even more drone strikes president.
I voted for Clinton because she understands activism, and can be influenced by enough pressure from her constituency. As Obama put it, her position can evolve. Trump will only do what Trump wants, including cornfield anyone who offends him. And Trump does take offense. A lot.
We, the people of the US, can’t get over it, ever. It doesn’t matter whether our candidate won or not. Our representatives may have a general idea of what kind of policy they want to pass, but they cannot be trusted to do the research necessary to understand a situation and pass wise policy to govern it. These days, our representatives are driven way more by lobby influence and ideology than by situational awareness, so it is up to us to know what we want and make our voices heard, and when they don’t listen to us, we appeal to whoever representatives will.