A cleavage is happening right now. The Americans who didn’t vote for Donald Trump are splitting into camps. For some dutiful citizens, the inclination to resist our Berlusconi-in-training is tempered by the sweet, sweet promise of unity and reconciliation. So, where do you fit in? Are you in “The Wait and See Squad,” or are you “Team Nah?”
Camp #1: The Wait and See Squad
The Wait and See Squad sometimes does business as the “Give Him a Chance Brigade.” They’re very interested in keeping an open mind about the administration of President Trump. These folks, some of whom were steadfast in their #NeverTrumpitude, are treating the president-elect with kid gloves. They hope that his worst behaviors and utterances were the inevitable flotsam and jetsam of a political mission to be accomplished, and that those worst inclinations will be cleansed by the formal trappings of the presidency.
A telltale sign of a Wait and Seer is the preponderance of “Here’s What You Need to Understand About the White Working Class” think pieces littering his twitter feed. If the ratio of those articles to “Can We Seriously Talk About the Fact That Trump Hired a White Supremacist on Day One?!” missives is high, he’s probably on the Wait and See Squad. The Wait and See Squad is a place of wistful temptation… just as colorblindness is a convenient fantasy, and the ability to fly would be cool.
Camp #2: Team Nah
The other group has a monosyllabic response to the Wait and See Squad: “nah.” Team Nah has seen Trump double-down on his authoritarian tendencies with every leveling-up of his power. When he won the primaries, he stopped pretending to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan. Team Nah was watching. After his first debate, he used his expanded platform to fat-shame a woman. Team Nah was grinding its teeth.
Team Nah is ready to resist, because they’ve already seen everything they need to see. Elite members of Team Nah have been bird-dogging racism and sexism for years, while the Wait and See Squad has told them to look at the bigger picture. Trump’s election destroys the idea that being overtly racist and sexist are threats to holding power in this country, and Team Nah has had enough of that world. Trump is the purest distillation of Team Nah’s darkest visions of what America really is; his campaign was the river of slime running under Manhattan in Ghostbusters II, drawing power from the darkest corners of the American psyche.
I’m coming out as a card-carrying member of Team Nah. I have no interest in either “waiting” or “seeing,” and here’s why.
We’ve Already Seen
Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time.” If I had a dollar for every time Trump has showed us who he is, I’d have enough money to buy one of those bracelets his daughter is selling. For example, the president-elect’s first major decision, once elected, was to appoint a man who peddles in White supremacy and anti-Semitism. Then, Republicans in Congress, who during the campaign did a lot of chest-thumping about Trump’s unsuitability for office, showed their bellies to their crown prince:
We see the sycophancy of the individuals who are supposed to act as “checks and balances.” And while we’re in the business of seeing things, let’s see also: the general election and the primaries, all of which included rampant racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and general cases of cray-cray. If you need to see more, you’re committed to not seeing what the rest of us cannot avoid.
We Cannot Wait
Waiting is a privilege. If you’re a Muslim woman experiencing harassment on the street today, you do not have the privilege of waiting to see if Trump changes his entire character tomorrow. If you are a ten-year-old who through no fault of his own lacks immigration papers, you do not have the privilege of twiddling your thumbs while the administration decides whether or not to fulfill its most inhumane promises.
We cannot wait to find out if the swastikas and nooses are a fad or a foretelling. Those who want to wait are those who can avoid the consequences of Trump’s promises in action (read: White men, mostly). To wait is to acquiesce, or to borrow from Dr. King’s urgency in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the White male member of the Wait and See Squad – because let’s be honest, that’s the bulk of the membership - “paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom.”
“Wait and See” is the New “All Lives Matter”
Black folks, Latinx folks, Jews, Muslims, women of color and most Americans who are not simultaneously White, male, and Christian have been waving the “Team Nah” flag for months. While our friends and family members in the Wait and See Squad boil like the proverbial frog, we have jumped out of the pot. We remember that, when activists in the movement for Black lives started saying “Black Lives Matter,” it took just a few months for a group of moderates to co-opt the sentiment by saying, “All Lives Matter.” The former is an affirmation of humanity and a statement of political priorities; the second is a lukewarm dodge in the midst of a clear and present danger.
“Wait and See” is the new “All Lives Matter;” it is a wishy-washy middle-ground in a time that requires moral clarity. We have seen this play before, and for the first time in many of our lifetimes, the Off-Off-Broadway production of White supremacy is moving to the White House’s main stage. When the Ku Klux Klan is celebrating the president-elect and his values? In short: nah.