Our society and our institutions are simply not set up to deal with someone who is fully prepared to flout all of our norms of good behavior. Our system, to a large degree, relies on social sanction rather than laws to prevent powerful people from getting too far out of line. When our most powerful person is willing to ignore all of that, there is not much in place to stop him. The normalization process is well underway. The pomp and circumstance and deference will only increase after the inauguration. The press and the Congress are the only two institutions standing between a dangerous man and total power. They must both realize this is not the time to salute and grovel. This is not the time to fall into familiar patterns of default respect for someone who does not himself respect the responsibility to the public that he has been given. This is the time for them to rise to the occasion. And the occasion is a fight for civil society.
This is why you don’t kiss the ring of Donald Trump. This is why you don’t visit him in his golden tower and sit stiffly in a spacious conference room to hear his nonsensical thoughts about “innovation.” This is why you don’t tousle his hair playfully on late night television, or allow him to hold off-the-record meetings with your news organization. This is why you don’t pose in smiling pictures with him, or defer to him out of some misplaced sense of decorum or respect for the office he is soon to occupy. This is why there was so much fear over the “normalization” of what he is and what he represents.
The point of my earlier blog posting, though, is really the same point that Nolan makes in his article. As I said then:
The relationship between citizens and those who have been elected to represent them is a power relationship, and WE, as citizens, need to remember who is supposed to have the power - and who does have the power, if we are willing to mobilize it.