We can’t defeat Trump by aping him. Here’s why.

Fight With Words

Remember The Incredibles, the Pixar film about a family of superheroes?

Each member of the super family has a special skill: Dad Bob has super strength; Mom Helen is Elastagirl; daughter Violet can become invisible; son Dash has super speed; and baby Jack-Jack can burst into flame at will. Joining together while employing their individual strengths means they can accomplish anything.

Imagine, however, if each pretended he had the same super powers as the others. What if Dash tried to lift a bus or Helen tried to become invisible? It wouldn’t work very well. Indeed, if each tried to adopt the superpower of another they’d no longer be super heroes; they’d likely be defeated.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Trump’s super power is rage; our super power is justice.[/pullquote]

That’s why the decision of the owner of the Red Hen Restaurant to force out Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, although deeply emotionally satisfying, is such a bad idea. We aren’t going to defeat Trump that way.


Trump’s super power is rage; our super power is justice. When we use Trump’s tactics to fight him, we dramatically decrease our effectiveness. We won’t win; we’ll surely lose.

I’m not suggesting that Trump, his family and his administration don’t deserve shaming and shunning.

Every presidential press secretary lies; the job requires defending the boss and the boss is sometimes indefensible. But previous press secretaries at least appeared to regret the lying; they seemed to value their own credibility. Sanders, in contrast, evinces no shame for even the most monstrous lies. She aggressively defends the most egregious policies.

But that doesn’t excuse what happened:

…Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant Friday. She had been out for dinner with friends, the cheese course already on the table, when the owner took her aside and requested that she leave. The owner said she thinks that Sanders works for and defends an “inhumane and unethical” administration.

She’s not the only member of the administration who has been subject to shaming and shunning.

Pam Bondi, the Florida attorney general who often appears on Fox News and is closely aligned with President Trump, was shouted down at a movie screening in Tampa on Friday… The local newspaper reported that Bondi was escorted out of the theater by police.

Hecklers shouted “Shame!” at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a public face of Trump’s immigration policies, hastening her departure from a Mexican restaurant near the White House last week. Protesters even posted video of that encounter on Facebook.

Trump adviser and immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller also was confronted at a restaurant last week and called a “fascist.”

What do those who shame and shun hope to accomplish?

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) this weekend encouraged harassment of Trump officials in public spaces…

“For these members of his Cabinet who remain and try to defend [Trump], they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop a department store. The people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them,” Waters said.

Waters is trying to harness the collective rage of those who are appalled by the unabashed racism, homophobia and cruelty of Trump and his administration. But harnessing rage is Trump’s super power and we are no more likely to be able to defeat him and the troglodytes of his administration by attempting to copy them than Elastagirl could defeat evil geniuses by becoming invisible.

Indeed, we are only playing into his hands. Trump is trying to return to the Hobbesian state of nature:

…[N]o Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual Fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Trump thrives in chaos and so he seeks to create chaos by instigating and harnessing rage. He encouraged rage against black NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem and harnessed it to grow his popularity. He manufactured an immigration “crisis” to plant fear in the hearts of his supporters and reap the bumper crop of rage that results. He gratuitously separates immigrant children from their parents because he and his supporters glory in cruelty. He provokes fear of black and brown people; the primal rage that results is his sustenance.

And when we seek to emulate him, even on a small scale, by treating his administration as they would treat black, brown or gay people we hamstring ourselves.

The super power of the American majority is justice. It has always been our super power even when it was only honored in the breach.

What is justice?

Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all.

Justice is what has made America great and it is the only thing that can keep America great.

Forcing Trump administration officials to leave restaurants or theaters is not justice; it is channeled rage. It is not going to defeat Trump and his policies because it is playing to his super power not America’s super power.

There is one and only one way to defeat Trump and that is through the cornerstone of justice: voting. Those who believe in justice are the majority. If each and every one of us were to vote, we could easily defeat Trump and his ilk. Let’s not waste our time and energy heckling Trump and his administration. Let’s use our super power and vote him into the dustbin of history!