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Steinberg: Hope is necessary, hope is a hammer

First lady Michelle Obama | Getty

Follow @lynnsweet“Now we’re feeling what not having hope feels like.”

— Michelle Obama

Oh, I don’t know about that.

Yes, the brittle fraud we elected president has been scraping together a rogue’s gallery of right-wing goofs and fringe mediocrities as his Cabinet.

Yes, he has been as manic on Twitter as ever, firing off poorly spelled salvos at all who dare question him. Yes, he has been willfully blind to Russian meddling in the U.S. election, leaping to slam our intelligence agencies while making goo-goo eyes at Vladimir Putin.

Pretty grim. With the promise of more grimness to come, as every closet bigot, neighborhood bully and tin-hat lunatic feels emboldened to strut his stuff in public, praising Trump all the while.

But how does recognizing this translate into lack of hope? Just the opposite. Hope is required now. The first lady gets that. “Hope is necessary,” she continued, pouring out her heart to Oprah.

It sure is. Merely repeating “We’re screwed” over and over is not a success strategy.

OPINION

Follow @lynnsweetFour reasons for hope:

1. The Curse of the Outsider. President of the United States is the first elective office will Donald Trump hold. You know who that evokes? Jane Byrne, whose only elective office was one term as mayor of Chicago. Remember Jane? She won by opposing insiders like Ed Vrdolyak and Charles Swibel then, once in power, panicked and ran into their arms. We’re seeing that already with Trump. Just because he thinks governing is easy won’t make it easy.

2. Erratic is as erratic does. Living in a fact-free zone, where the truth is whatever Trump is saying at the moment, Trump spins like a weather vane in a storm. This is unsettling, sure. But Trump has dialed back so many promises, and many of those are impossible to deliver, wildly expensive, deeply immoral or some combination of the three. Expect him to shrug a lot.

3. The good guys have won this battle before. I got a note from a reader recommending a book. “It shows the long history in this country of white guys trying to make sure they are the only ones who count,” he wrote.

Ain’t that the truth? None of this is new. Just as Trump, in his “Make America Great Again” fantasy, conjured up a lost American Eden that never existed, panicky liberals now cling to the canard that we had a Robert’s Rules of Order government before Trump showed up and spoiled it. No way. Politics was always a dirty business, and this is the same old struggle re-packaged in garish new clothes.

4. Don’t mistake losing a battle today with losing the war tomorrow. When France fell in six weeks to the Nazis in June 1940, Winston Churchill made a brief broadcast. He started with the frank truth — “The news from France is very bad” — then said something surprising. “What has happened in France makes no difference to our actions and purpose. We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of this high honor.”

Bingo. What happened Nov. 8 makes no difference to our purpose. It is a high honor to face this uphill climb. Republicans have been tremendously tenacious pushing the most godawful un-American claptrap, foisting faith upon the unwilling, repressing the innocent because of who they are, or pushing agendas that are totally without merit. Can we not be less diligent when defending such core American values as inclusion and conservation, fairness and justice?

I have hope. Let me tell you what that hope is: I hope that the Trump years will be seen as a time when the pretty slogans were recognized as hollow. When lingering delusion was finally puffed away, those who had become giddy with scant progress finally saw who we really are — a nation that would elect Donald Trump president. Barely, with a big boost from a Russian leader, up and over the fence into the Rose Garden. But we did it, he’s there, and now we have to own it.

Hopelessness is not an option. Hope is a tool, a hammer. Never let it go. You’re going to need it.

Tweets by @lynnsweet