The phrase “give him a chance” has been cropping up a lot over the past week, coming from sources both surprising (Dave Chapelle) and not (Hillary Clinton). And while I’m willing to accept that some people are using the phrase as a euphemism for “give him enough rope” it is, in principle, the most asinine thing that people could be saying at the moment. In several different ways!
First of all, if it were in our power to stop ***** from governing in any way shape or form, it would be morally incumbent upon us to stop him. The cost of taking a “wait and see” approach is far too high. I mean, how much of a chance are we talking about here? When will the “chance-ers” give us permission to not let him govern? “Okay, now that abortion is illegal, gay marriages are illegal, and 20 million people have been kicked off of their insurance, you can officially start opposing *****’s administration. Sure, it’ll take at least 50 years to undo the damage, if it can be undone at all, but hey, we had to give him a chance, right?”
But what really makes this anti-rallying cry a joke is that it presumes that we have a power that we don’t actually possess. Give him a chance to govern? It’s far too late for that. He has his chance, and there’s absolutely nothing any of us can do to change that. We are locked in, in a very real sense. The fact is that the opposition can do literally nothing to effect policy when it has no majority stake in any of the branches of government. Name one major progressive milestone that occurred in the midst of active government hostility; all right then, name two. The fact is that there is a maniac with a gun pressed against our head, and people are saying, “Hold on, let’s see how this plays out.” Um, buddy, we don’t have any other options that result in us not coming to a sticky end.
I’m trying to wrap my head around how the call for chance-giving makes any sense. After all, many of the folks saying this stuff are smart people (though there are a lot of dummies saying it too). So what’s their angle? If I’m being charitable, I’d guess that they are trying to say the same thing that I’m saying, which is that there’s literally nothing we can do right now. We’re going to suffer; our friends, our families, even our opponents (to a lesser degree of course) are going to be made miserable, and there’s no way to stop it. So saying “give him a chance” is like saying, “don’t beat your head against that brick wall, you’ll only hurt yourself and the wall won’t care.” The difference here is that I’m saying it plainly, while they are bundling the same message with a soupçon of hope.
Well, hrmmm. I don’t know. If you need hope to carry on, who am I to stop you. Personally, I don’t believe in it — hope makes me feel ill, right now. I have a pretty good idea of some small part of what’s coming, and I’m not so delusional as to think there’s reason to maintain hope. Like Sting once said, hope can break your heart.