- Release meaningful tax records
- Release meaningful health records
- Promise that he is not using psychoactive drugs
- Actually divest; do not run afoul of the emoluments clause
- Full accounting of overseas business relationships, debts, etc.
- Do his job without the help of his children
- Sincerely denounce white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, neo-Nazis, and the alt-right
- Demonstrate that he understands what consent is, what sexual assault is, and demonstrate that he sincerely regrets (for the appropriate reasons) his history of assault and harassment
- Acknowledge that it was unprecedented in American history and completely inappropriate for a presidential candidate to threaten to investigate, prosecute, and jail his opponent
- Acknowledge that anthropogenic climate change is real
- Acknowledge that science is a good way of understanding reality in general
- Acknowledge that the job he is about to take requires a degree of self-restraint; demonstrate that self-restraint
- Sincerely apologize for mocking a person's disability
- Sincerely apologize for incorrectly asserting that thousands of Muslim Americans celebrated 9/11
- Sincerely apologize for calling an entire group of people rapists and murderers
- Sincerely apologize for mocking John McCain's time as a POW, and acknowledge that his comments effectively disparaged all POWs
- Sincerely apologize for mocking the parents of a dead soldier
- Sincerely apologize for proposing an immigration ban on an entire religion
- Acknowledge that there was no widespread voter fraud in the election, and sincerely apologize for stoking fears based on wild conspiracy theories
- Sincerely apologize for lowering the standard of discourse in American politics
- Condemn Russia's human rights record
- Commit to a no-first-strike nuclear policy, which would be unprecedented but also prudent and appropriate given his past comments regarding the use of nuclear weapons
- Demonstrate a sincere and nuanced belief, grounded in facts and reflecting some amount of deep thought, about literally anything real and of actual substance that pertains to his job as president
- Stop tweeting like a maniac
- Speak coherently
I had also included specific recommendations like, "rescind impending appointment of ExxonMobil CEO to secretary of state," but those actions are of a different variety. (Although they do reflect symptoms of the larger problem). There is no model for any presidency like Donald Trump's anywhere in modern American history. He can propose a bunch of specific policies that I love — Medicare for all! Public land protections! — but none of this would change my mind about Trump.
He is fundamentally different, and the problems are bigger than just policy.
The ways in which Trump are fundamentally different represent real and genuine threats to meaningful self-governance in this country. No amount of good policy will undo those threats. Good policy proposals will change my mind about Trump's policy positions, but they will not change my mind about Trump himself.
In an earlier election thread, we discussed the remarks of former Justice Souter about civic ignorance and how a democracy dies. I think it is worth quoting Souter here:
You can't keep [a democratic republic] in ignorance. I don't worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I'm afraid of a foreign invasion. I don't worry about it because I think there is going to be a coup by the military as has happened in some other places.
What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough, as they might do, for example, with another serious terrorist attack, as they might do with another financial meltdown, some one person will come forward and say, "Give me total power and I will solve this problem."
That is how the Roman republic fell. Augustus became emperor not because he arrested the Roman senate. He became emperor because he promised he would solve problems that were not being solved.
If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people to demand performance from those responsible.
If we don't know, we will stay away from the polls. We will not demand it. And the day will come when somebody will come forward and and we and the government will in effect say, "Take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do."
That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.
Souter's remarks about Augustus describe someone exactly like Trump. "I alone can fix it," he said during a scripted speech at the Republican National Convention. This was not some off-the-cuff word salad. This is his actual message.
Donald Trump is different because he represents the elevation of civic ignorance as a virtue. His campaign represents a true contempt for meaningful debate. The constant theater of insults has diminished the body politic's regard for facts, reality, nuance, and self-reflection. In short, there are two things that could change my mind about Trump:
1.) It turns out he is a totally different person than all available facts indicate.
2.) I am severely mentally ill and have imagined all of this.
The Atlantic article is part of the problem. "It turns out he really doesn't order our troops to commit war crimes," will not change my mind about Trump. The fact that he has merely suggested that we should kill the family members of our enemies is horrifying. I mean, how is that not yet fucked up enough? When someone writes "I will change my mind if he doesn't commit war crimes" in a magazine like The Atlantic, civic ignorance takes another step forward, and democracy gets a little sicker.