From the Left



Donald Trump Wins

Susan Estrich on

What does it mean that a majority of Iowa Republicans braved freezing cold weather to go out and caucus for a man who is facing 91 criminal counts, not to mention another defamation trial from a woman who a jury already found he sexually assaulted and defamed?

It means he could win the presidency and endanger the future of our democracy.

There is a divide in American politics the likes of which I have never seen before, between those who support the former president and those who can't imagine why anyone would.

Anti-Trumpers view him with shock and awe. How can anyone who is misbehaving at the defense table as a woman testifies about how he destroyed her reputation after he sexually assaulted her possibly win back the presidency? How can someone who is facing indictments in four separate cases, who has promised that he will weaponize the Justice Department and rob it of its independence, pardoning himself and assuming the role of chief law enforcement officer, possibly be the front-runner for the nation's highest office? He has told us what he will do, and he will. Will he ever give up the presidency once he gets it back? Will he literally shred the rule of law? Will anyone stand up to him?

It's easy for those who oppose Trump to assume that his reascent cannot be real, that a majority of Iowans cannot possibly represent a majority of Americans, that we can still sit around whining about how old Joe Biden is as if that is the biggest problem out there. It isn't.

Tens of millions of Americans cannot be dismissed as "deplorable." They aren't going away. They aren't put off by behavior that the rest of us do find deplorable. They see things from an entirely different perspective, one that we somehow need to bridge literally and figuratively to save our democracy.

Are they that angry?

Yes. Angry and frustrated. Attracted to a man who is willing to stand up and say aloud things that would, in conventional times, be political poison.

It is not political poison for Donald Trump. It will not defeat him. Offered the choice of Nikki Haley, a candidate who, in conventional times, would be the most electable of the Republican field, Iowans overwhelmingly chose Trump. Will New Hampshire voters do the same? Don't bet against it. Will California voters deliver their votes to him to secure the nomination? Right now, he is way ahead.


These are not conventional times. It is very scary to be so divided. And very dangerous.

I don't pretend to understand, not entirely, for certain. But we who are on the other side must do at least three things.

The first, which cannot be said enough, is not to dismiss Trump's supporters as deplorable. That can only make things worse. That can only feed the polarization that has infected our politics, that leaves tens of millions of Americans feeling that they are under attack and must fight back.

The second is to stop whining about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Are they a perfect team? Compared to whom? The perfect is the enemy of the good. Biden has accomplished more as president than I frankly imagined he would. He has actually done something about climate change, passed landmark infrastructure legislation and stood firmly with Israel. He has built an impressive leadership team and presided over a growing economy. Is it time for a new generation of leaders? Maybe, but so, what? Trump is not part of a new generation of leaders. That is a question for next time around, not now.

The third is to get involved. This is not an election to sit out. It is not a time to wait. Republicans and independents, as well as Democrats. Those who oppose Trump must act now and not later. The existential threat that Trump poses for our democracy must be met with positive engagement in politics, not with disgust. Someone else is not going to stop the enthusiasm motivating the MAGA movement. If they are standing against "us" -- whoever we are -- then we must stand up, positively and with equal vigor. It is not enough to sit on the sidelines, assuming someone else will stand up or that the threat will go away. Donald Trump is coming.


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