Donald Trump
Credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr

Reading Harry Reid’s letter to the American people brought up such a mix of conflicting emotions. Mostly, though, I feel disbelief that this is reality. I cannot dispute a single word of what Harry Reid wrote. I can’t believe that we’re in a position where the Senate Minority Leader feels so morally outraged at the election of a new president that he feels compelled to respond this way.

Naturally I feel the sting of it. In any normal situation, calling the president-elect “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate,” would be an inexcusable violation of norms and an actual threat to our democracy. I can’t even imagine the outrage I would feel if the shoe was on the other foot and Mitch McConnell said anything remotely comparable about president-elect Clinton.

There’s a powerful argument that the best defense against Trump is the strength of our history and traditions and system, and that the reality of the requirements of governance are the best bets for house training him and limiting the damage.

But there’s an equally compelling argument that the biggest danger is normalizing Trump in any way, and that making the traditional accommodations to a new president is an irresponsible abdication of moral duty.

I don’t know how to feel, and that’s very unsettling.

On some level, responsible people have to make an effort to keep our government moving, one step after another. How do you do that, though, without validating Trump and Trumpism and in some ways empowering him?

Regardless of what you think you know, does he deserve at least some space to show us how he’ll act now that he’s actually responsible for all of us?

Or has he already signaled that he isn’t about to make any pivot by the people he’s floating to serve in his administration?

What an impossible situation this is!

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at