If the president of the United States is about to go down, I hope that we, the people, do not lose track of our role in enabling him. The English and New English Puritans may have overdone the hair shirt sometimes, but this is a moment when the Puritan custom of days of fasting, prayer, and humiliation might well be good for us. Some of us might wish to skip straight to the Day of Rejoicing over the downfall of Trump, but today should not yet be that day.
Maybe a few of us are not to blame for the low-rent mobster government that is now in place. But many if not most of us did too little to protect American democracy and our constitutional republic. That goes especially for the Republican Party, which suffered a hostile takeover and an astonishing loss of dignity. But the Democratic Party and the apathetic nonvoters and the many millions of political independents–can we really say we are not at least partly to blame for the Wrestlemania presidency? Are we embarrassed? Do we want to look away? Yes, but we also need, for our own sake, to reckon with our own failure to do enough to promote and defend civilization and culture and decency.
P.S. I am not saying that those who voted for Trump are necessarily more blameworthy than those who voted for Clinton or someone else or no one at all. Trump was garish and bombastic and offensive to many Trump voters, who nevertheless believed him the lesser evil. That was then, Hillary is not the issue anymore. She is not next in line if and when Trump goes down. That would be Pence. I only hope he turns out to be no worse than a conventional rightist meathead. And some victims of Trump’s seduction may not yet or ever be penitent. But we as a people (or we as an electoral college) might all do well to consider ourselves penitent victims of seduction, as we try to rehabilitate our democratic constitutional republic.