One of the most active conversations these days among political activists who oppose Donald Trump is about the extent to which Democrats should “work with” the new president, considering his white nationalist, authoritarian campaign and the people he has surrounded himself with. It’s both a strategic and a moral question, and the potential complications and rewards run in a number of different directions. Salon’s Simon Maloy addressed some of the problems in a piece on Thursday.
I tend to be in the “resist across the board” camp because I greatly fear the normalization of the Trump administration. By normalization I mean not only the adoption of his draconian policies and cretinous behaviors as acceptable for leaders in our democracy, but also the abandonment of enduring norms that have kept the whole thing together. You cannot have a civil society based only on laws. People must believe that a basic level of decency and trust exists among our fellow human beings or it just doesn’t work. (Brian Beutler explores this subject in depth in a New Republic piece.)
But let’s be honest. Trump is not the first leader to break with the norms we all took for granted. Republicans have been pushing that envelope ever since they came into power in 1994 and used their House majority to stage a years-long witch hunt against then president Bill Clinton, which culminated in an embarrassing sideshow of an impeachment over a private sexual matter.