I spent a fair amount of my day today reading the reaction of friends and colleagues around the country and across the globe. Let me encourage you to read what two of them had to say.
Bill Ayres (the scholar not the ex-terrorist) offers a considered look at all the ways that people like me were wrong in how we understood Trump, the race, the electorate, the very state of America. When I wrote on social media last night that we are not yet the country that I had hoped we were, that’s in part what I meant.
Steve Saideman offers a first take on the ramifications of a Trump presidency for international relations, and it’s worth reading. I have my own thoughts on the matter as well, some of which I’ll touch on below, others that I’m still chewing over.
I spent more time today reading and responding to the fears and disappointment of current and former students. I repeated to many of them part of what I said in a text I sent just before midnight last night to my own kids, students away at university on a mountaintop in rural Tennessee:
I’m sorry for how this looks right now. Even if HRC wins, your elders failed you. We failed you. Making this country a better place is going to be up to you. I believe in you and your goodness, decency, and humanity. You can lose faith or you can dig in and work to make this a better place. Never discount the power of small steps. Never lose faith in yourself, in others, especially those you disagree with.
I checked in with them this afternoon to see how they’re doing the day after. Got this text from my son in response: “Yeah I’m good.” And then …
Saw a big dirty pick up truck parked prominently on campus with two big flags flying off the back – the American flag and a rainbow flag.
That gives me hope. And yet there’s more than enough still to come that has me on edge.
True, the wounds in our common life as Americans have rarely been laid as bare or have felt as raw to me as they do right now. But there’s more to it than that.
For all the damage that Trumpism has already done, and can still do at home, the harm won’t necessarily stay confined to our own shores. Donald Trump is going to have charge of American foreign policy. As a professor of international relations that truly frightens me.
In August I gave you an updated list of the foreign policy pledges and promises that Trump had made while on the campaign. Here it is again, updated further.
- Authorize torture against terrorism suspects to extract information, whether it works or not.
- Use torture against terrorism suspects in order exact vengeance.
- Order the US military to commit war crimes, including killing the families of suspected terrorists.
- Replace military commanders who balk at illegal orders.
- Abandon longstanding alliances, like NATO.
- Abandon longstanding allies to the tender mercies of predatory neighbors.
- Walk away from defense commitments to South Korea and Japan even if that means they develop nuclear weapons of their own.
- Tear up the multilateral agreement that led to Iran’s abandonment of its nuclear weapons program.
- Unilaterally abrogate longstanding free trade agreements, specifically NAFTA.
- Wage trade wars against China and other countries he deems guilty of engaging in unfair trade practices.
- Withdraw from the World Trade Organization if it does not bend to American will.
- Cancel America’s commitment to take meaningful steps to combat climate change under the terms of the historic international Paris climate agreement.
- Close America’s border with Mexico and confiscate remittances from Mexican workers in the US in order to fund the building of the border wall.
- Bar Muslim immigrants and refugees from US soil.
- Bar immigration or the admittance of refugees to the United States from countries or regions plagued by terrorism.
- Introduce an ideological litmus test for immigrants and their American-born children.
- Try American citizens accused of terrorism before military tribunals.
How many of these will a President Trump do? How many will he try to do?
I literally have no idea. That’s what scares me.