‘The Coalition of All Democratic Forces’

On Twitter, Garry Kasparov reflected on the diverse coalition of those opposed to Trumpism, and the need for accountability for Trump & his operatives. In reply, Benjamin Wittes wrote a series addressing Kasparov’s topic. Below, I have reproduced the original Kasparov tweet, and Wittes’s series in reply.

Their conversation is (having started after an earlier tweet about Lindsay Graham) a conversation about officials who supported Trump. It’s not a conversation about private citizens who supported him.

Every word Wittes here writes seems sound, indeed necessarily sound, to me.

The discussion appears below —

Kasparov, 3:05 PM – 1 Sep 2018:

Those who stand against Trump will move on to many different things when he’s gone, but those who still support him should never be forgotten or forgiven.

Wittes, 8:17 AM – 2 Sep 2018 to 8:18 AM – 2 Sep 2018.

A few reflections on this tweet, which contains a number of themes I have been thinking about a lot recently.

First, “Those who stand against Trump will move on to many different things when he’s gone”: Yes. We will. Those who stand against Trump come from left, right, and center. What unites them is anti-authoritarianism and democratic pre-politics, not a specific political program.

It is thus not merely probable, but actively desirable that the anti-Trump coalition will break up into its constituent pieces once the current crisis has passed. The country, after all, needs a vibrant democratic right, a vibrant democratic left, and vibrant democratic center.

It is not desirable to pretend that, say, and have more in common than they do. and I speak for very different political currents, and both are different from those that speaks for.

The should not merely accept but actively aspire to a time when we can all go back to disagreeing on the most important issues of the day. This is a recurrent joke between me and . But it’s also not a joke.

Second, there is one important thing that we should all try to retain from the current moment, however—and I think this is a critically important thing that I hope will survive the current struggle. That is a certain mutual respect and admiration born of common tectonic values.

I would hope that we would all retain in future disagreements a deep awareness that the people we are disagreeing with are people with whom we shared a foxhole when democratic government itself faced a threat.

I very much hope I will never be able to disagree—however intensely—with such people again without a keen understanding that on the most important values, we share a core. And I hope that will cause me to engage with them more respectfully than I might otherwise have done.

I hope it makes me more open to arguments I would otherwise dismiss. I hope it makes me more respectful in disagreement. I hope it creates the possibility of dialogue between people—and between movements—that have regarded one another as hopeless.

This brings me to the second half of ‘s tweet: “those who still support him should never be forgotten or forgiven.” I don’t mean to sound arch or moralistic. But yes. Speaking personally, I do judge. And my memory will be very long.

I will never forget the people who stared this moment in the face and made peace with it. I will never forget those who decided to tolerate it because of tax cuts, or judges, or to own the libs.

I will also never forget those on the left who hate the center and the democratic right so much that they prefer to make common cause with the Trumpists than with the impure. I will never forget those of all factions who, when it really mattered, stayed narrow and parochial.

I will never be able to engage these people in the future—no matter how much I might agree with them—without a deep awareness that they lack what to me are the most important democratic virtues and commitments. Frankly, I will always hold them in at least some contempt.

I will remember who put something else before the vitality and health of our democracy.

This is all, as the great cheerfully puts it when she puts an idea on the table, “just one citizen’s opinion.” But there it is; that is mine.

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