A few thoughts on Donald Trump (and not just the ones you might expect)

First, the ones you might expect: I am opposed to Donald Trump. Violently, desperately, fervently opposed. I fear that were we a young democracy with limited civil society, and weak checks on executive power, as Germany was in the 1930s, Trump might pose a threat akin to the one Hitler posed then.

Fortunately, we aren’t young, we do have a robust civil society, and as strong as the presidency is, its powers are, thankfully, quite limited. Witness the presidency of Barack Obama. Or George W. Bush. Obama and Bush are two men who had grand ambitions but relatively limited accomplishments. Which is not to say that either’s presidency was anything less than monumentally eventful.

So though I fear Trump, and think his election would be a disaster, I have faith and confidence in my country’s – and the world’s – ability to survive it if not unscathed, at least intact.

But as concerned as I am about Trump, I’m at least as concerned about the anti-Trump movement. I’m concerned about the underlying situation of which Trump is a symptom, not a cause. And I’m concerned that the vast majority of opposition to Trump, both in the Clinton campaign and more broadly, exacerbates that underlying situation, rather than ameliorating it.

Many people feel Trump speaks for them, gives voice to their hopes and fears. These are people who genuinely fear trans women (to them, “men”) in their daughters’ bathrooms. People who fear the next ISIS (Daesh) attack – in spite of living in flyover country, and who medicate the anxiety induced by their inability to identify the infinitesimally small number of potential suicide bombers by instead assuming there are over a billion of them, easily identifiable by their ethnicity or religion. People who genuinely feel threatened by gay marriage. People who lost their jobs and feel an injury every time they see someone else working. People whose parents and grandparents were unskilled, but were able to gain access to the middle class through union jobs and hard work. And, perhaps, a not insignificant sense of entitlement.

Anger, as I have written often, is often simply a refraction of fear. Hate even more so. But fear is powerful, and real.

Telling people they’re bad because they’re afraid strikes me as a piss-poor strategy for anything other than antagonism. The hatred that’s afoot in my country won’t be vanquished by an election, or by rhetoric, or by shame, or by hatred. It’ll be vanquished by love.

For hate is never conquered by hate.
Hate is conquered by love.
This is an eternal law.
Many do not realize that we must all come to an end here;
but those who do realize this, end their quarrels at once. – Dhammapada



  1. I’ve been observing this and you write about it well. If I may, I’d like to call for more curiosity and compassion too.

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