Update: This was written just days after Donald Trump was elected and remains one of the most important pieces ever published on the Banter. Several months in and the Trump administration is worse than almost anyone could have expected. The administration is attempting to wreck civil society in America, and remains a very serious threat to democracy, the environment, the poor, women and minorities. As of writing this, the Trump administration cruelly banned LGBT people from serving in the military for overtly cynical political purposes. We are doing everything we can to hold the Trump administration to account, and your help is needed now more than ever.
Last week, I went on a guided tour of the White House, courtesy of a friend of mine who works in the Obama Administration. I had booked the tour weeks ago, and had completely forgotten about it. When my friend reminded me, Donald J. Trump had just been elected president and I honestly didn’t know whether I could bear going. Knowing that this would likely be my last chance to see it while being run by dignified, intelligent and compassionate leader, my wife and I decided to go anyway.
The tour was at times physically difficult. My friend was visibly distraught after what can only have been an unimaginably difficult day. Everything she has worked for will be undone in a matter of days by Donald Trump and the truly awful gang of thugs he is handing out administration positions to, and her hopes of a future in a Hillary Clinton administration gone. Instead, my friend is part of the transition team, handing over power to the likes of Chris Christie, Steve Bannon, and Rudy Giuliani.
There are photos around the White House of President Obama with his family, foreign leaders, and every day Americans. As we toured the West Wing, viewed the Oval Office and went outside to the Rose Garden, it struck me just how dignified Obama is, and what respect he has brought to the White House. The thought of Donald Trump and his family moving in and not only dismantling the work Obama has done, but bringing his trademark garishness and willful ignorance to a place where Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy resided was perhaps the most appalling realization I had on the tour.
Since last Tuesday, the true scale of what is about to happened still hasn’t quite set in. With one heartbreaking announcement after another, it appears we are set for at least four years of Trump’s xenophobic, repressive policies that will do nothing more than enrich corporate elites, impoverish everyone else and wreck what progress the country has made when it comes to healing its racial divisions. Trump is stacking his cabinet with a truly appalling mixture of oligarchs, Wall St insiders, lobbyists and racists that will make the Bush administration look like the hardcore lefties at a Bernie Sanders’ rally.
Most disturbingly, a Trump presidency will almost certainly mean more environmental destruction than we’ve seen in all of human history — precisely at the time when the planet is least able to sustain it. This is not hyperbole, but a sober analysis of the facts given the people he is surrounding himself with. With the almost certain appointment of noted climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to the Environmental Protection Agency and the campaign pledge to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, we are set for the greatest set back to environmentalism ever.
As the publisher at the Banter, I am also extremely concerned about Trump’s pledge to crack down on the media. As The Atlantic reported:
Donald Trump has called for an “opening up” of libel laws in the U.S., which would make it easier to sue journalists who write unflattering things, and maintained blacklists of media outlets he didn’t want covering him. He’s got a penchant for surveillance, allegedly wiring up the phones in his Mar-A-Lago resort so that he could listen in on any call from the handset at his bedside. He’s called for boycotting Apple after the company refused to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters when asked by the FBI. He’s “keeping a list” of political figures who were disloyal to him, and he has a habit of singling out journalists he dislikes.
We are in uncharted territory here with no guarantees about the future. The corporate media is busily convincing itself and everyone else that this is business as usual — normalizing the appalling and adjusting itself to make the same mistakes it did in the lead up to this election. Trump means big business for the news media, and you can be sure they’ll do their best to sanitize the insanity we’re about to witness. The media in America is notoriously cowardly and you can be sure they’ll back down as soon as Trump decides to use his power to threaten them.
In response to this, we are going to be directing all of our energy into covering Donald Trump and holding him to account. Our pressure is going to be thorough, intelligent, and relentless. As I have written before, there is no time for recriminations and no time for name calling. While we have done our fair share of ridiculing the Trump movement and the media outlets that have enabled him, this is not the time for flippancy. What was once a joke is now running the most powerful country on earth. And contrary to conventional wisdom previous to the election, the Republican Party has not imploded. Instead, the party has unwittingly took part in perhaps the greatest coup in modern political history and controls every aspect of the US government.
This calls for a resistance movement dwarfing anything we’ve seen in America for decades — a coalition of responsible adults committed to stopping what can only be described as a fascist take over. The Daily Banter will be a part of this movement, and we will fight tooth and nail to prevent the destruction of women and minority rights, press freedoms, and the environment.
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Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.