Well, wow. We’ve got a president-elect who a great many Americans regard as the spawn of Satan. A dimwitted, mean-spirited spawn embodying the nation’s worst flaws, failings and nightmares.
But on the lighter side … The question today is how to deal with the reality of Donald Trump, next president of the United States. Remember, we’re doing this for your mental health, not his.
The bottom line is to presume the best while preparing for the worst. “They killed us but they ain’t whooped us yet,” said Tim Kaine, channeling Faulkner in one of the losing team’s biggest applause lines.
Forget about moving abroad. Of course it sounds tempting, but you’d be surprised how many countries are unenthusiastic about acquiring new former-American citizens. The Canadians will just keep telling you about their terrific, sensible, well-adjusted young prime minister. Plus there’s that terrible housing bubble in New Zealand.
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Let’s get more practical. Here goes:
A 10-Step Program for Adjusting to President-Elect Donald Trump
1) Start with a night of heavy drinking. Already done that? Good, you’re on your way.
2) Acknowledge that Donald Trump is not crazy. Obviously, he has been known to act crazy in public. But if you met him at a private social occasion you would probably find him to be a fairly pleasant person.
I say that as someone who once got a letter from Trump telling me I had the face of a dog. But the next time I saw him at a lunch meeting he was fine. Told interesting jokes about how much money he got for product placement on his TV show. Obviously, this isn’t the equivalent of “Theodore Roosevelt reincarnated.” But we’re trying to work with what we have here.
3) Trump has the attention span of a gnat, but if he appoints reasonable and intelligent people to his Cabinet, the government could run OK.
It will be easy to tell if this is not going to happen: Attorney General Rudy Giuliani.
4) Ditto with foreign affairs. Trump has seemed pretty hands-off when it comes to international involvement, so perhaps with the right advisers, he might take a moderate approach that would disappoint the Republican hawks.
Tip-off that this one’s a non-starter: Secretary of State Newt Gingrich.
5) If you’re worried about social issues, remember that until fairly recently, Trump was a rather liberal Manhattanite.
But just in case, you might want to write out a large check to Planned Parenthood.
6) When it comes to big domestic policy questions, to Trump they’re just applause lines or bargaining chips. Anything could go either way.
While that’s not necessarily calming, it’s better than assuming he actually believes all the stuff he says. What kind of program could he really, really get his heart and soul behind? The only thing I can imagine is a multitrillion-dollar Donald Trump Historic Biggest Ever Infrastructure and 50-State Golf Course Building Program.
7) About the election results: Don’t let people tell you that the vote proves half the American population is racist. There’s another reasonable explanation for Trump’s victory. In most presidential elections, people decide between change and continuity. Hillary Clinton was running to continue the Obama legacy. After a president serves two terms, Americans generally vote for change, and the other party’s nominee.
Yeah, I know — those people yelling the N-word or “Sieg heil!” at the rallies. But if you dwell on them, you’re not going to want to go out of the house anymore. Think of it as basically a change/no change election. Plus some deplorables rattling around the basket.
8) We ought to give anybody a second chance, even if it’s Donald Trump. “We now are all rooting for his success,” said President Barack Obama. Really, you do not want to be one of those people like, um, Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s director of African-American outreach, who told a reporter on election night that when it came to enemies, “Mr. Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list.”
9) Try to think about some of the other election results on Tuesday that were more positive. Some states passed new gun control initiatives. Others raised the minimum wage, and several legalized recreational marijuana. Which will definitely come in handy over the next few years.
10) At Thanksgiving, if your family keeps trying to trade Trump insults, redirect the conversation to that great Chicago Cubs World Series win.
It may be a hard meal to get through, but remind yourself that a couple of days later, our president-elect is scheduled to take the witness stand in a Trump University fraud trial.
There’s always a silver lining.
Gail Collins is a columnist for The New York Times.