‘An unstable, unqualified, undignified demagogue’

Charles Blow, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, has been one of that paper’s sharpest, cogent critics of Donald Trump (along with Frank Bruni).

In his column today, his last of 2016, Blow again registers his alarm about Trump. It’s a powerful piece of writing. I urge you to read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

The nation is soon to be under the aegis of an unstable, unqualified, undignified demagogue and with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, there is little that can be done to constrict or control his power and unpredictability.

It’s like seeing an ominous weight swinging toward a limb, sure to break it, while you feel utterly helpless to prevent the fracture.
. . .
The durability of our democracy is not destined. It is not impervious to harm or even destruction. The Constitution can’t completely prevent that, nor can protocols and conventions. The most important safeguard against authoritarianism is an informed, engaged citizenry vigorously opposed to acquiescence and attrition.
. . .
I fully understand that elevated outrage is hard to maintain. It’s exhausting.

But the alternative is surrender to national nihilism and the welcoming of woe.

The next four years could be epochal years in the history of this country. They could test the limits of presidential power and the public’s passivity.

I happen to believe that history will judge kindly those who continued to shout, from the rooftops, through their own weariness and against the corrosive drift of conformity: This is not normal!

I think of James Fallows, The Atlantic‘s estimable national correspondent, who, through the general-election campaign, catalogued Trump’s incessant, daily deviations from normality with the “Trump Time Capsule”series.  This is not normal is how Fallows concluded almost each segment of that series. We need people in prominent positions — journalists and others, including Republican officeholders — to call Trump out when his behaviors are threatening to democratic norms and basic decency.  Otherwise, as Blow says, we’ll all get used to a new normal, a “surrender to national nihilism.”

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