The unthinkable has happened: Donald Trump has won.
And this morning, progressives across the country will be wrestling with this single question: What the hell do we do?
For months, we’ve assumed that it would be the GOP who would be sorting through the wreckage of a failed Trump candidacy, embroiled in an internal civil war while we got down to the business of governing. Instead, it’s the Democrats who will be embarking on an extended period of soul-searching. It will test the fiber of what it means to be a progressive in what is (and hopefully will continue to be) the greatest democracy on earth.
It will be tempting to slide down an infinite warren of what-ifs and could-have-beens: What if Bernie Sanders had been the candidate? Or what if Elizabeth Warren could have been persuaded to run? And if will be equally tempting to line up the firing squad: It was Hillary Clinton who ran too “centrist” a campaign. It was the FBI’s James Comey who threw the election with his false-alarm investigation into Clinton’s emails. It was the Russians whose interference and illegal activities poisoned the well of American opinion.
Nothing could be more destructive for the country than for progressives to engage in this exercise. Rather, now is the time for us to forge a unified front with a single purpose: to block the disastrous agenda of Donald Trump.
Trump’s arrogance and ego will prompt him to claim a mandate he does not deserve, and nothing will embolden him more than a fractured, disorganized opposition. Trump also now controls both houses of Congress and has the power — in theory — to execute in short order the hateful, repellent policies that he has supported throughout his campaign. We cannot allow that to happen, and we have no time to lose.
We cannot allow a President Trump to repeal Obamacare and strip needed health care coverage from millions of Americans.
We cannot allow him to appoint Supreme Court justices whose values are anathema to our fundamental values of liberty, privacy, and free speech.
Nor can we allow him to install his cronies into positions of power where they can use their influence to corrupt the institutions of government for their private benefit.
We cannot allow him to continue to coarsen public debate and normalize the vulgarity that was the trademark of his campaign.
We cannot allow him to build a wall.
We cannot allow him to use his high office to persecute his political enemies as he has threatened to do and abuse the benefit of his high office to carry out personal vendettas.
We must defend our neighbors and their families from forced deportations and from persecution for nothing more than being from the “wrong” country or for worshipping the “wrong” God.
We must defend a woman’s right to choose.
Above all, we as progressives must work together to find a common, alternative vision for the country that both advances progressive ideals but also speaks to the half of America that rejected who we are and what we stand for. There is no project more crucial than to build an optimistic, inclusive agenda for shared prosperity that elevates the Americans who’ve felt left behind and embraces the strength of our diversity. And we will need to find and support allies across the aisle who are courageous enough to work with us and to resist the lock-step demands of their party leadership.
Perhaps there is a chance that a President Trump will live up to the conciliatory message he gave last night, of unity and healing. But that’s not the Donald Trump we have seen so far. Nor is it remotely the purpose of the agenda he’s championed over the last year that his most ardent followers will be demanding to see.
This will be no time for compromise but for organized, civil, values-driven resistance. If Trump is to lead the country into an unprecedented period of darkness, it will be up to progressives — working as one — to defend the light.