I ran across this tweet yesterday:
I understand the sentiment to reject the idea of wanting an incoming president to fail. To instead hope that he will perform better than his campaign would suggest. But this particular form does not name or condemn the racism, misogyny and general bigotry that propelled him to office. This tweet implicitly endorses that bigotry. It normalizes that bigotry. It says you can be elected to the highest office of the United States while routinely saying bigoted things and promising exclusionary and racist policies. And many will just make nice and pretend it didn’t happen.
I’m sure the author would disagree they are endorsing bigotry. But it does. If someone you knew was routinely awful to others in your circle of friends, never apologized for it or made amends, and then at a party you just introduced them to everyone asking them to welcome them without acknowledging the past harm, what would your friends think? They would think you didn’t think their past behavior merited censure. They would think you were okay with it.
Other business leaders have expressed similar vague sentiments on the incoming president. I’m sure if asked directly they would also say, well, of course I don’t support those policies or those kinds of words. But should the President-elect attempt to make good on the many exclusionary promises of his campaign, how can I trust they will stand against it? If the President-Elect really does decide to make Muslims register as he promised a year ago and has never disavowed, will you fight it?
What does it mean to wish the incoming president “success”? “Success” for most incoming elected officials usually includes implementing part of their agenda. But the President-elect’s agenda is explicitly exclusionary and racist. He promised repeatedly to deny entry to Muslims. To “build a wall” against our southern neighbors. Charitably I know that Bezos and other business leaders don’t mean this kind of success. They mean some other nebulous form of success where the President-elect behaves more like a normal president.
The President-elect was propelled to office on a wave of white supremacist backlash and misogyny. Millions of people voted for him (or stayed home) knowing he had assaulted women, said awful things about women, said awful things about black people, immigrants and Muslims. Millions voted for him despite one of his few coherent and consistent policies being a sop to anti-immigrant fervor.
You can’t wish him well or success without highlighting that context. This election was not normal. The winner is not normal. Ignoring that context normalizes it. The thugs already putting up swastikas and beating up people who don’t look white need the media to normalize this. The Republican party and the President-elect needs us to pretend that this violence isn’t their creation. They want us to forget chants of “lock her up” at his rallies. They want us to forget the President-elect will not reject the support of the KKK. They want us to forget this is not normal.
This is not normal. The United States was far from perfect on the topics of racism and bigotry, but even if a candidate’s policies were bigoted, they had to hide and pretend they weren’t. The President-elect did not. Don’t be part of making it normal again to be openly and explicitly racist. Don’t excuse the President-elect. Don’t excuse the Republican leadership.
Continue the fight to make inclusion and equality normal. That’s the future I want to live in. That’s the future a majority of Americans who voted wanted.