10 reasons Trump’s victory is not the apocalypse

To explain the victory of Donald J. Trump as 45th president of the United States, people keep quoting from Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America,” the story of a fascist takeover of our country.
November 16, 2016

To explain the victory of Donald J. Trump as 45th president of the United States, people keep quoting from Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America,” the story of a fascist takeover of our country. But I keep thinking of a line from another Roth book, “The Humbling,” whose title perfectly describes my feelings these days.

“At a certain stage of misery, you’ll try anything to explain what’s going on with you,” says the narrator, “even if you know it doesn’t explain a thing and it’s one failed explanation after another.”

It’s time to stop explaining, stop wallowing in misery and focus on silver linings. Because, well, choose life, right? So, here goes:

1. Most Americans rejected Trump 

Trump won the election, but Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about a million votes. An ABC exit poll found that 61 percent of voters viewed Trump unfavorably. Americans who didn’t vote for Trump and dislike him are in the majority in America. #WereNotAlone

2. The backtracking has begun

Based on his post-election statements, it’s becoming clear that Trump won’t build his 30 foot concrete wall, Mexico won’t pay for it, he won’t deport 12 million undocumented immigrants, he won’t “rip up” the Iran deal and he won’t keep out Muslims. Either these promises were lies to begin with or the consequences of actually doing stupid things has begun to dawn on him.

3. Breitbart.com will be exposed to light

I am not one of those people calling Stephen Bannon an anti-Semite. I don’t know him, and it’s not a term I throw around loosely. But breitbart.com is a cesspool of anti-Semitic, misogynistic and racist commentary. At some point soon, the new special assistant to the president will be forced to choose between draining that swamp or losing his job. Otherwise he and his boss will end up tracking every vile comment and headline across the clean Oval Office carpet.

4. Cory Booker doesn’t have to wait 16 years

Not just U.S. Senator Booker (D-N.J.), but an entire generation of progressive young leaders now can consider running in 2020. If Hillary had won, the new generation of Democrats would likely have to cool their heels for the next 16 years.

5. Neither does Nikki Haley

Don’t be fooled by the Trump victory — the GOP is still divided. A thoughtful and brave challenger like Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, can take on Trump in 2020. There are a lot of decent, unhappy Republicans who should view the Trump victory as a call to return their party to its thoughtful, conservative roots while reaching out to a changing America.

“Trump won the presidency in a manner that undermines the GOP’s electoral future,” noted former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. “Trump’s white-turnout strategy is not the wave of the future; it is the last gasp of an old and disturbing electoral approach.”

6. Trump’s victory will strengthen our alliances

Less than a week after the election, the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America met and created the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council. This new high-level organization will advocate together on issues of common concern like, say, an immigration ban based on religion. It includes Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen, Sinai Temple Rabbi David Wolpe and former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman. 

Locally, rabbis joined imams and priests at a solidarity rally outside the Islamic Center of Southern California last week, and this Thursday young Jewish and Muslim leaders of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change will meet for support and strategy. Trump has done what Middle East negotiators could only dream of: He brought Muslims and Jews together.

7. Trump is healthy

Trump acts in a coarse, cruel and hateful manner, but he is a pragmatist. Until recently, he was even a Democrat. You can’t say the same for vice president-elect Mike Pence. I wish Trump four years of excellent health.

8. America has survived worse

There have been more hotly contested elections and presidents from both parties who have said and done awful things, like Franklin Roosevelt locking up Americans in internment camps. Watch Trump like a hawk. Be ready to fight. Don’t panic, until it’s time.

9. Trump could do some good things

If Trump can get a Republican Congress to go along with rebuilding our infrastructure, great. If he can get Vladimir Putin to agree to a settlement in Syria, great. If he can tweak NAFTA to improve labor conditions in Mexico — something President Barack Obama tried to do — great. If he can bring jobs to the people who voted for him based on that promise, great.

10. Make our communities great again

With Trump in Washington, we will be forced to become the change we want to see. Our young people will learn what it is to mobilize and fight for change. Our local leaders will have to step up to defend our laws and values. We will have to focus on making stronger, better communities, helping and protecting one another, living the values in our lives that we find missing in our president. 

One way we have already begun to do that is with our pocketbook. Donations are flooding in to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, the ADL and the Sierra Club.  These organizations are more valuable than ever.

The other way is to organize now and be ready to resist when necessary.   

“If the first day [of President Trump] we see something that is hostile to our people, hostile to our city, bad for our economy, bad for our security, we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Yes, and I will join him.

ROB ESHMAN is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. Email him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter ” target=”_blank”>@RobEshman.

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