In “America Elects a Bigot” Mr. Blow says he does not respect this president-elect, and to count him among the resistance. Mr. Kristof, in “Gritting Our Teeth and Giving President Trump a Chance,” says we need to be watchdogs, not lap dogs. Also, Nick, I’d suggest that we dispense with the “honeymoon” period. Ms. Collins offers a “Ten-Step Program for Adjusting to President-Elect Trump,” with some practical considerations to help cope. Here’s Mr. Blow:
Donald J. Trump is president-elect of the United States. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.
Against all odds and against all forms of the establishment, he prevailed. He won, legitimately, including in many states that were thought to be safely blue. The pundits and the polls were wrong. There was more pent-up hunger for change — and also racial, ethnic and economic angst — than many models considered.
Mr. Trump will become this country’s 45th president. For me, it is a truly shocking fact, a bitter pill to swallow. I remain convinced that this is one of the worst possible people who could be elected president. I remain convinced that Trump has a fundamentally flawed character and is literally dangerous for world stability and injurious to America’s standing in that world.
There is so much that I can’t fully comprehend.
It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.
Also, let me be clear: Businessman Donald Trump was a bigot. Candidate Donald Trump was a bigot. Republican nominee Donald Trump was a bigot. And I can only assume that President Donald Trump will be a bigot.
It is absolutely possible that America didn’t elect him in spite of that, but because of it. Consider that for a second. Think about what that means. This is America right now: throwing its lot in with a man who named an alt-right sympathizer as his campaign chief.
How can I make sense of the fact that the president appeared in pornos?
How can I make sense of the fact that the man who will appoint the next attorney general has himself boasted of assaulting women? What will this president’s vaunted “law and order” program for “inner cities” look like in an age where minority communities are already leery of police aggression?
How do I make sense of the fact that a man who attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage” will be the man who will nominate the next Supreme Court justice and scores of federal judges?
I can’t make it make sense because it doesn’t. I must sit with the absurdity of it.
I must settle this in myself in this way: I respect the presidency; I do not respect this president-elect. I cannot. Count me among the resistance.
I hope that there are areas where people in Washington can agree to actually advance America’s interests, but I’m doubtful. Trump has made multiple campaign promises, promises he will be obliged to keep, that would specifically do harm.
My thoughts are now with the immigrant families he has threatened to deport and the Muslims he has threatened to bar and the women he has demeaned and those he is accused of assaulting and the disabled whom he apparently has no problem mocking.
My thoughts are with the poor people afflicted by ill health who were finally able to receive medical insurance coverage, sometimes lifesaving coverage, and the fear they must feel now that there is a president committed to repealing and replacing it (with what, I don’t know), and who has a pliable Congress at his disposal.
When I think of all these people and then think of all the people who voted to make this man president — and those who didn’t vote, thereby easing the way for his ascension — I cannot help but feel some measure of anger. I must deal with that anger. I don’t want to wrestle it to the ground; I want to harness it.
I have spent much of my life and definitely much of my time writing this column championing the causes of vulnerable populations. That work only becomes more important now. Trump represents a clear and very present danger, and it is in the face of that danger that courage and truth are made more necessary and more perfect.
I strongly support and defend the peaceful transfer of power in this country and applaud the current administration for doing what is right and normal in America, what every prior departing administration has done: to make sure the transfer of power is as smooth as possible.
We need a Trump presidency to succeed to some de gree — at least to have it do as little harm to the republic as possible — in order for America to remain safe, steady and strong during his tenure.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe Trump to be an abomination, but rather that I honor one of the hallmarks of our democracy and that I am an American interested in protecting America.
That said, it is impossible for me to fall in line behind an unrepentant bigot. It will be impossible for me to view this man participating in the pageantry and protocols of the presidency and not be reminded of how he is a demonstrated demagogue who is also a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and a bully.
That is not a person worthy of applause. That is a person who must be placed under unrelenting pressure. Power must be challenged, constantly. That begins today.
We hope he’ll be watched like a hawk, but there’s no telling what the milquetoasts in Congress on the other side of the aisle will do. Here’s Mr. Kristof:
Sure, if you’re in the approximately 52 percent majority of voters who supported someone other than Donald Trump, go ahead and mourn. When a former Ku Klux Klan leader like David Duke is giddily celebrating a political triumph for his values, how can we not ache for our own?
Yet, like it or not, we Americans have a new president-elect, and it’s time to buck up. I’ve seen past elections that were regarded as the end of the world — including, in many Democratic circles, the Reagan triumph of 1980 — and the republic survived. This time as well, our institutions are stronger than any one man. We are not Weimar Germany.
It was disgraceful that many Republicans eight years ago tried to make President Obama fail. That’s not the path to emulate. Today, having lost, we owe it to our nation to grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance.
Having said that, Trump has talked about repealing Obamacare, deporting millions of our neighbors, instituting religious tests, overturning President Obama’s actions on climate change and moving the Supreme Court far to the right. How can progressives respond with anything but resistance — or emigration? As it became clear that Trump had been elected, Canada’s website for immigration crashed from too much traffic.
It’s complicated, but let me offer a few reasons to hold off on your visa application:
■ Trump is inexperienced and makes extreme statements, but he’s not ideological. He used to be pro-choice, then suggested that women should be punished for getting an abortion, but neither is a core view — because Trump doesn’t have a core. He is an opportunist. He blustered about building a wall and banning Muslims but won’t do either, because those ideas are unworkable. (The wall could cost $25 billion.)
The area where Trump would be most dangerous is foreign affairs, because there he can act largely at will, unconstrained by law. Yet it is perfectly possible that Trump will appoint as secretary of state an experienced Republican like Richard Haass, with Stephen Hadley as secretary of defense, thus signaling that adults are in charge of foreign policy.
The thought of Trump with the nuclear codes is terrifying, but if he was to give a crazy order, no one knows if aides would circumvent it. In 1974, when President Richard Nixon was drinking heavily during the Watergate crisis, his defense secretary, James Schlesinger, ordered the military not to obey any presidential instruction for a nuclear attack without checking further.
■ Democrats are too quick to caricature Trump supporters as deplorables. Sure, some are racists or misogynists, but many are good people who had voted for Obama in the past. My rural hometown, Yamhill, Ore., is pro-Trump, and I can tell you: The voters there are not all bigoted monsters, but well-meaning people upended by economic changes such as the disappearance of good manufacturing jobs. They feel betrayed by the Democratic and Republican establishments, and finally a candidate spoke to them.
Liberals condemn the stereotyping of Latinos or Muslims but have been quick to stereotype Trump voters.
Look, ordinary Americans have not somehow lurched into bigotry, even if they have backed a man I consider a bigot. A Bloomberg poll found that if Obama had been allowed to seek a third term, he would have defeated Trump in a landslide, 53 percent to 41 percent. And just four years ago, the presidential election was between the African-American son of a single mom and a Mormon.
■ Trump was absolutely right that the economic system is broken for ordinary Americans, especially working-class men. Since 1979, real hourly wages for men have essentially been unchanged for the bottom half of Americans by income.
Today, we’re a country divided not only by ideology but also by identity. Whites voted for Trump by a margin of 21 percentage points; blacks for Clinton by 80 percentage points. If it had been only women voting, Clinton would have won in a landslide. (Thank God for women and people of color!)
Unfortunately, Trump’s proposed policies would exacerbate the inequity that he campaigned on. And normal checks and balances will not apply, for he will be working with a Republican Senate, a Republican House and a majority-Republican Supreme Court.
One crucial check could be the news media — if we are up to it. I’ve been very critical this year of the role that we in the media, especially cable television, played in Trump’s rise. We need to be watchdogs, not lap dogs.
The time for ranting is over, and it’s time to accept the inevitable. Trump has surprised us in many ways this year, and let’s hope and pray that he will stun us once again by repairing the tears he made in our social fabric. Let’s give him a chance — for those are our democratic values.
And if he falls short, let’s hold him accountable — for the sake of those same values.
And now here’s Ms. Collins:
Well, wow. We’ve got a president-elect who a great many Americans regard as the spawn of Satan. A dimwitted, meanspirited spawn embodying the nation’s worst flaws, failings and nightmares.
But on the lighter side …
The question today is how to deal with the reality of Donald Trump, next president of the United States. Remember, we’re doing this for your mental health, not his.
The bottom line is to presume the best while preparing for the worst. “They killed us but they ain’t whooped us yet,” said Tim Kaine, channeling Faulkner in one of the losing team’s biggest applause lines.
Forget about moving abroad. Of course it sounds tempting, but you’d be surprised how many countries are unenthusiastic about acquiring new former-American citizens. The Canadians will just keep telling you about their terrific, sensible, well-adjusted young prime minister. Plus there’s that terrible housing bubble in New Zealand.
Let’s get more practical. Here goes:
A 10-Step Program for Adjusting to President-Elect Donald Trump
1) Start with a night of heavy drinking. Already done that? Good, you’re on your way.
2) Acknowledge that Donald Trump is not crazy. Obviously, he has been known to act crazy in public. But if you met him at a private social occasion you would probably find him to be a fairly pleasant person.
I say that as someone who once got a letter from Trump telling me I had the face of a dog. But the next time I saw him at a lunch meeting he was fine. Told interesting jokes about how much money he got for product placement on his TV show. Obviously, this isn’t the equivalent of “Theodore Roosevelt reincarnated.” But we’re trying to work with what we have here.
3) Trump has the attention span of a gnat, but if he appoints reasonable and intelligent people to his cabinet, the government could run O.K.
It will be easy to tell if this is not going to happen: Attorney General Rudy Giuliani.
4) Ditto with foreign affairs. Trump has seemed pretty hands-off when it comes to international involvement, so perhaps with the right advisers, he might take a moderate approach that would disappoint the Republican hawks.
Tip-off that this one’s a non-starter: Secretary of State Newt Gingrich.
5) If you’re worried about social issues, remember that until fairly recently, Trump was a rather liberal Manhattanite.
But just in case, you might want to write out a large check to Planned Parenthood.
6) When it comes to big domestic policy questions, to Trump they’re just applause lines or bargaining chips. Anything could go either way.
While that’s not necessarily calming, it’s better than assuming he actually believes all the stuff he says. What kind of program could he really, really get his heart and soul behind? The only thing I can imagine is a multitrillion-dollar Donald Trump Historic Biggest Ever Infrastructure and 50-State Golf Course Building Program.
7) About the election results: Don’t let people tell you that the vote proves half the American population is racist. There’s another reasonable explanation for Trump’s victory. In most presidential elections, people decide between change and continuity. Hillary Clinton was running to continue the Obama legacy. After a president serves two terms, Americans generally vote for change, and the other party’s nominee.
Yeah, I know — those people yelling the N-word or “Sieg heil!” at the rallies. But if you dwell on them, you’re not going to want to go out of the house anymore. Think of it as basically a change/no change election. Plus some deplorables rattling around the basket.
8) We ought to give anybody a second chance, even if it’s Donald Trump. “We now are all rooting for his success,” said President Obama. Really, you do not want to be one of those people like, um, Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s director of African-American outreach, who told a reporter on election night that when it came to enemies, “Mr. Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list.”
Now that’s the kind of attitude that might come in handy if you’re a repeat contestant on a cheesy reality show like “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But obviously that has nothing to do with being chief executive of the United States.
9) Try to think about some of the other election results on Tuesday that were more positive. Some states passed new gun control initiatives. Others raised the minimum wage, and several legalized recreational marijuana. Which will definitely come in handy over the next few years.
10) At Thanksgiving, if your family keeps trying to trade Trump insults, redirect the conversation to that great Chicago Cubs World Series win.
It may be a hard meal to get through, but remind yourself that a couple of days later, our president-elect is scheduled to take the witness stand in a Trump University fraud trial.
There’s always a silver lining.