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There are a lot of bad tweets making the rounds on this, the day of Donald Trump’s more-or-less-official defeat. But the most infuriating one I’ve run across so far comes from political scientist Ian Bremmer:
Can’t we all just get along, he asks. No, we can’t.
It’s not just that Trump supporters have steadfastly refused to treat their opponents — us — with empathy or respect; indeed, many of them spent the past four years gloating about Trump’s victory in 2016 with a sadistic glee. I can’t count the number of times a MAGA-head has responded to my criticisms of Trump with some variant of “cry more.”
But the problem goes well beyond the fact that the typical Trump supporter can be a bit of a jerk sometimes. The problem is that they’ve devoted themselves to supporting a incompetent, inhumane, and deeply racist tinpot autocrat with a distinctly fascist sheen. They supported him when he tried to ban all Muslim’s from traveling to this country; they supported him when ICE began kidnapping babies en masse; they supported his attempts to destroy the affordable care act and rip insurance coverage from millions of the most vulnerable. They made excuses when Trump expressed sympathy for alt-right Nazis. They’ve defended his assault on democracy itself.
Make no mistake, had Trump won the election it would probably have been the last even somewhat democratic election in the United States for years if not decades to come.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that his fans cheered his absolute non-response to COVID, which has led to countless unnecessary deaths, perhaps as many as several hundred thousand before the pandemic runs its course. He’s encouraged his supporters to not wear masks, making it impossible to control the pandemic and putting each and every one of us at heightened risk of catching and possibly dying of the disease.
And did I mention that a significant portion of Trump’s supporters have their heads full of QAnon and other nonsense conspiracy theories and literally want to see everyone from Hillary Clinton to Chrissy Teigen executed for their imaginary crimes against humanity?
I could go on, and on, and on. But let me just move directly to my final point: We can’t offer our sympathies to Trump voters yet because, to put it bluntly, they’re still out there, and still our enemies. They will be doing everything they can to tear down the Biden administration; some will almost certainly do so with violence — and become MAGA heroes like the multiple murderer Kyle Rittenhouse. This is the reality we face right now. There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it.
Trump supporters don’t deserve our sympathy, and they’re not going to get it, at least not from me .
Bremmer wasn’t the only one posting nonsense today:
Really? Really? One of my very first political memories is of Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon. I was just a kid, but even then I knew there was something deeply wrong about Ford pardoning the guy who had just elevated him to president. And now some people want Biden to pardon the worst grifter to ever inhabit the White House? Please. If Trump wants a pardon, make him do it himself by working out some deal with Mike Pence. If Trump gets pardoned by Pence, it will leave a stain on the office of the presidency. But at least it won’t leave a stain on Biden as well.
What makes the talk of sympathy especially dangerous is that Biden has been talking the same way. We elected him to end Trump and Trumpism, and already he’s talking as if the deep political animosities we face today can be handwaved away. There are good reasons why we see these opponents as enemies. Winning the election feels good, but let’s not let that deceive us as to the nature of our foes or the enormity of the struggle ahead.