- Will Trump attempt to use the Department of Justice, the IRS, or any other federal agency with a law enforcement arm to target personal or political enemies?
- Will Trump try to use surveillance on his political enemies?
- Will Trump attempt to intervene to stop investigations into criminality or corruption that concern his backers, business associates, friends, or family members?
- Will Trump or his children profit from foreign governments while he is in office? Will Trump seek to profit personally in any way through his elected position?
If Trump and his appointees avoid these transgressions they will exceed my expectations.
Polarization and Balkanization
When explaining my vote against Trump, I wrote, “The most dangerous thing a leader can do in an ethnically diverse country is to stoke ethnic tensions to gain power. One needn’t invoke the Nazis to see that truth. Look to the former Yugoslavia, or Rwanda, Iraq, or Syria. America isn’t on the verge of civil war, but that’s in large part because, while the exploitation of ethnic grievances has always been part of our politics, our leaders have at least held themselves to a certain standard in their public statements. Trump kicked off his campaign by encouraging his followers to think of Mexican migrants as mostly rapists, attacked an American-born judge of Hispanic ancestry, repeatedly savaged Muslims, inspired multiple hate crimes against minorities, used his Twitter platform, with an audience of millions, to retweet and elevate anti-Semites, and inspired more energy and assertiveness from the white supremacist movement than I can ever recall.”
I fear Trump will continue to stoke ethnic tensions in ways calculated to shore up his support, and that fringe white supremacists and anti-Semites will continue to gain power during his tenure. If neither of these things happens he will exceed my expectations.
- More than ten women say that Donald Trump sexually assaulted them by kissing or groping them without their consent. As it happens, there is videotape of Trump bragging about how he kisses women and “grabs them by the pussy” without permission, something he calls “locker room talk.” (One wonders what the locker room at Mar-A-Lago is like.) I fear more accusers will emerge––and that we haven’t seen the last of footage in which Trump speaks in ways that demean women or minorities. If there are neither more credible accusations of sexual misconduct nor new footage wherein he slurs an identity group in ways that would get a CEO fired he’ll have exceeded my expectations.
- Trump has been openly, deliberately, unapologetically cruel, even to members of his own family. I fear we’ll see more cruelty from him in coming years.
My fears about Trump are many. And I would be grateful to hear from readers about other markers that I might lay down on matters of importance that I have so far missed. But as I noted on election night, “Hopefully, Trump will surprise his detractors and behave better in the White House than he has in the 2016 campaign, his business career, and his personal life. For the sake of the nation and the world, I hope he rises to the occasion, and that he respects the civil liberties of every American regardless of their identity. In any project that benefits the nation while safeguarding civil rights and liberal norms, I wish him success.”
For Trump supporters who believe that my fears are overblown, but share my convictions about the importance of a president who respects the Bill of Rights, eschews corruption, and otherwise avoids actions that harm the nation and its people, I would ask for emails sketching out behavior that would cause you to stop supporting Trump. My email is email@example.com if there are any willing correspondents. Let’s flesh out what success or failure would mean before it’s time to judge it.