So this happened:
My frustrated mid-day comment after foolishly opening twitter to find out about this tech company leader meeting with the President-elect was to ask:
A friend commented that this is happening and folks need to work with him and some work from the inside and so on. And yes, of course that’s correct. But I didn’t hear most of these people loudly criticizing anything he said during his campaign (or not very often). Or loudly criticizing what he said he wants to do. Or demanding Republican leaders show some standards.
This is a president that is promising to deport millions of people, to profile and monitor people for their religious faith, who thinks all black people live in violent ghettos, that Americans who weren’t born here (and let’s be honest aren’t white) can’t be trusted, that women are just pieces of ass. He has an absurd number of financial conflicts of interest. He literally asked a foreign state to hack his political opponents and we’ve discovered that a foreign state probably did hack his political opponents. He called for his political opponent to be locked up … for alleged crimes that people he is considering for his administration actually committed. He lies incessantly. He has assaulted multiple women. He threatens the media for reporting on him negatively and wants to change libel laws to make it easier to silence people. He has white supremacists (yes, Nazis) who advise him. He can’t be bothered to learn about what doing the work of a president entails and he’s including his kids in political meetings.
Okay I’ll stop.
Why exactly should tech leaders go meet with him without a hint of criticism? Are they already so afraid of what he will do if they demand that he first show some sign of contrition or apology or even the slightest hint that he’ll change his behavior, words and policies? Did any of them negotiate concessions before lending their credibility and influence to him?
This is how fascism works. All these captains of industry who won’t use their very real power to demand better of our leaders are instead making nice.
We look at history books and talk about how different companies in fascist Germany supported and helped the Nazis and why that mattered. Do you think those leaders were all committed believers in racial purity from the start? Or did many think they could play nice, keep their heads down, try to work behind the scenes and eventually things would work out — but really their silence allowed the entire system to become controlled by fascists?
Now I’m not a big, successful tech company executive so I don’t know what it takes to excel as one. But then, none of these tech company executives has had to exercise their skills in this environment. This isn’t just a change of political winds. This is someone who threatens the order of society. He, painfully, has the near full support of the party in the majority and seems to respect none of the norms of American government or politics.
I think fairly positively of many of the men (mostly men) who met with the president-elect. I honestly don’t believe most of them are fascists or bigots or personally support any of the next president’s policies.
But how can we expect the “little guy”— all of us just plain Americans with very little power or money comparatively— to stand up to fascism and bigotry if the most powerful in our society are signaling that they won’t?
We got here because some political leaders have been saying the same kinds of things Trump says for a long time. They weren’t challenged, especially in the last eight years as opposition to every act of the first black president became a rallying point. Now they will run the country, led by the man who popularized the racist conspiracy that President Obama wasn’t born here.
We’re not guaranteed a happy ending. The system works because people make it work and try to make us better. That striving for a more perfect union of our founding mythology that we so desperately want to be true. I believe in the best vision of America and the idea that people can collectively improve. But some days it is really hard.