Quick Takes: Toni Morrison on the Election of Trump

* For White Americans who have any interest in understanding the perspective of their African American brothers and sisters, it all starts with listening to voices like Toni Morrison. She’s not interested in making anyone feel more comfortable…simply telling her own truth.

So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.

On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder.

* The Republican plans to repeal Obamacare are beginning to sound pretty confused. Here’s what we heard from House chair of the budget committee, Tom Price.

Republicans plan to tackle the Affordable Care Act in the first budget reconciliation process, which could take place as early as January.

* But the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Lamar Alexander, said it could take years.

In an interview with reporters on Capitol Hill, Alexander said the goal of Republicans was to “be the rescue party instead of the party that pushes millions of Americans who are hanging by the edge of their fingernails over the cliff.”…

“Eventually, we’ll need 60 votes to complete the process of replacing Obamacare and repealing it because Obamacare was not passed by reconciliation it was passed by 60 votes. And it was cleaned up by reconciliation because Scott Brown won his election,” Alexander said. “Before the process is over, we’ll need a consensus to complete it, and I imagine this will take several years to completely make that sort of transition to make sure we do no harm, create a good health care system that everyone has access to and that we repeal the parts of Obamacare that need to be repealed.”

* You may have noticed that rumors continue to fly about Trump’s cabinet appointments. As an example, when it comes to Secretary of State, last week the names that were flying around were Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton. Today, there’s talk about Mitt Romney and David Petraeus. I think I’ll keep my powder dry until things settle down a bit.

* The new national legal director of the ACLU, David Cole, has written an article titled, “The Way to Stop Trump.”

Whether Trump will actually try to implement these promises, and more importantly, whether he will succeed if he does try, lies as much in our hands as in his. If Americans let him, Trump may well do all that he promised—and more. Imagine, for example, what a Trump administration might do if there is another serious terrorist attack on US soil. What little he has said about national security suggests that he will make us nostalgic for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

We let a minority of voters give Trump the presidency by not turning out to vote for Clinton. (Trump didn’t even get as many votes as McCain and Romney, but Clinton received nearly five million fewer votes that Obama in 2012). But if we now and for the next four years insist that he honor our most fundamental constitutional values, including equality, human dignity, fair process, privacy, and the rule of law, and if we organize and advocate in defense of those principles, he can and will be contained. It won’t happen overnight. There will be many protracted struggles. The important thing to bear in mind is that if we fight, we can prevail.

* Mark Schmitt picks up on a theme we’ve been hearing more about lately, “Trump’s Capitol Hill Problem.”

Read any of the long books written about significant legislative victories, and even with one-party control, it’s always a high-wire act, full of moments when leaders pull the bill back from the brink of failure or force difficult votes. Keeping the process on track requires a president who is fully engaged, making calls to the Hill, intervening to resolve conflicts, and providing technical support through competently staffed federal agencies. It helps a lot if the president is popular and members want to be associated with him; Ronald Reagan’s approval rating was almost 60 percent around the time Congress enacted his sweeping tax and budget cuts in 1981.

Even right after the election, Mr. Trump’s favorability ratings were comparable to Richard M. Nixon’s in the depths of Watergate, and he lost the popular vote. Nor does Mr. Trump have warm relationships with members of Congress. Most have never met him, and others he has viciously attacked.

* Finally, one of the ways President Obama has continued to demonstrate that it is our diversity that makes American great is in the people he choses to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Yesterday the White House released the names of those how will be honored at a ceremony on November 22nd. The list tells a story. It includes actors, inventors, singers, sports stars, comedians and academics. They are white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay and straight. Some are open about their religious beliefs and some chose to worship privately or don’t ascribe to a particular faith. The one thing they all have in common is that they made this country better than it would have been without them.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elouise Cobell, Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Richard Garwin, Bill and Melinda Gates, Frank Gehry, Margaret H. Hamilton, Tom Hanks, Grace Hopper, Michael Jordan, Maya Lin, Lorne Michaels, Newt Minow, Eduardo Padrón, Robert Redford, Diana Ross, Vin Scully, Bruce Springsteen and Cicely Tyson.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .