Leaves skittered across the brick path on a deserted Lafayette Square the night Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore on Dec. 12. It was 25 degrees. Thirty months before, a crowd had gathered on a warm summer night as the White House north front was lit in rainbow colors in honor of the marriage equality victory in Obergefell. This night I greeted a lone protester keeping vigil in a small tent behind hand-written posters.
Donald Trump, to put it mildly, had had a bad week. The Pentagon had responded to another setback in federal court for his transgender military ban by announcing that trans recruits could enlist beginning in January. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, widely touted as a likely presidential contender, had defended the rights of women who accused Trump of sexual harassment to be heard. Now Trump was rebuked by voters in one of the nation’s deepest-red states after going all in on behalf of a twice-disgraced judge and accused child molester.
Watching the fountain in front of the presidential mansion, I could almost hear a collective sigh of relief. It had been a long, dark year as Trump outdid himself daily with false, ignorant, crude, spiteful, self-absorbed, and reckless words and actions as our 45th president.
I lack space for the full catalog of presidential offenses and embarrassments. Suffice it to say that he talked like a slow third grader, relied on InfoWars and Fox News instead of our intelligence services, undermined allies in Congress and overseas, threatened nuclear war, praised Nazis and white supremacists, treated storm-damaged territories like foreign countries, demanded the firing of protesting athletes, attacked everyone from the free press to refugees, obstructed justice, and was rebuked by Britain’s Tory prime minister – all while leveraging his public office for private profit and frequently visiting his golf courses while charging exorbitant fees to the Secret Service for protecting him there.
Trump’s quest to erase Barack Obama’s legacy included rescinding regulations while distracting people with his tweet storms. The FBI was a mixed bag, on one hand issuing a scurrilous report on “black identity extremism” that smeared and endangered civil rights activists, on the other hand acting as a bulwark against a Trump dictatorship.
The #MeToo movement to expose sexual harassment by men in public office, entertainment, and news media surged as victims found their voices. Those brought low included movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, conductor James Levine, actor Kevin Spacey, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Trent Franks, and Sen. Al Franken. Trump brazened it out, but found himself a fortnight before Christmas tweeting grudging congratulations to an Alabama Democrat.
The recruitment announcement by Pentagon officials on Dec. 11 displayed once again the resistance to Trump’s transphobia by military leaders whose sense of honor is utterly foreign to their commander in chief. Amid anti-LGBT persecution overseas, Australians struck a blow for equality, voting 61.6 percent for marriage equality in a postal survey, after which the parliament finally enacted it.
Pride parades in many American cities were disrupted by radicals who displayed their totalitarian mindset by demanding that the entire LGBT community embrace their hostility toward businesses and police. It makes no sense to bar friendly police like DC’s LGBT Liaison Unit, nor to ban businesses with high Corporate Equality Index scores as pride sponsors. In June, DC police simply rerouted the parade around the No Justice No Pride activists blocking the street.
Those self-righteous anti-capitalists must have shaken their heads at the post-Oscars Calvin Klein ad campaign featuring actors from Best Picture winner Moonlight, particularly the chiseled, expressive breakout talent, Trevante Rhodes. Sometimes a business transaction can be lifted by inspiration. Raf Simons, chief creative officer at Calvin Klein, is an art lover who was bowled over by Moonlight. The notion that business is inherently predatory, like the notion that masculinity is inherently toxic, is the sort of dogma that blinds us to opportunity and progress.
On election night, a friend texted me about Moore’s refusal to concede as I walked north through the park toward a bus stop where restaurant workers waited. Over my shoulder, the flag above the White House flapped in the winter breeze. The republic endures.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at [email protected].
Copyright © 2017 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.