Continuing our depressing but realistic exploration of how to live under a Trump Presidency, today we give some heartfelt advice to Republicans who might be approached to join the Administration.
There will be plenty with varied mixes of ego, ambition and sense of duty who will think very seriously of the option. Their chances will be greater because many of their fellows will be utterly uninterested.
Here, from one who wants our country and the world to survive, and recognizes that in most situations insiders really can do good, are some thoughts:
The first is is before you go in, indeed, before you even start the negotiations, be very clear about your red lines. Not just in your mind, but in writing, and shared with loved ones whose judgement you respect, and whose respect you would fear losing if you later violated them. It is very important to remember that once you join the Administration, you will be part of a group that has a very strong internal culture, as well as legal and other mechanisms for enforcing the demands of that culture and its leader, You will also become privy to temptingly exclusive “information” that reinforces those demands.
Let me suggest three such sets of red lines that everyone should think through:
The Resignation Line. What would you resign rather than do, and what are the things that would cause you to resign if the administration did?
The Whistle Blowing Line. What are the things that you would blow the whistle on? What level of personal risk would you be willing to bear?
The Dan Ellsberg Line. What things would make you feel you had to engage in aguable violations of the law? (This is not to urge such violations, just to remind you that the more unpredictable an administration, the more likely conscience is to compel such a choice for one who goes in with their eyes open and refuses to close them.)
Finally, ask yourself and others about your personality, and think about whether you retain Independence of judgement and conscience when part of a strong-minded and continually reinforced and reinforcing group.
If you need to a place to start thinking in concrete terms, you can always go to a list of the promises Trump has made (it’s an out of date list, but a start). Sorry to be so blunt, but I can beleive that anyone of conscience and humanity would not find a resignation bright line in that list of promises. If you feel certain Trump would never actually do any of them, just make sure you remember that is what you are relying on in going in.
I never thought we would be at a 40% chance of being at a place like this.