After the election of Adolf Hitler to the chancellory in 1933, liberal-minded people across the world undertook a boycott. This boycott, targeted at German-made goods, sought to soften the Nazis' discrimination of Jews by putting economic pressure on Germany's export business. Thousands of people demonstrated and marched in solidarity with the boycott.
In response, Joseph Goebbels claimed that the boycott was the work of insidious globalist Jewish forces and that Germany was under economic attack by the Jews. He called a German boycott of Jewish businesses, and enforced this boycott by posting browncoats in front of doors and painting derogatory slogans and the Star of David over the storefront.
The lesson we learn here, as well as in every other historical story of revolution, is that in order for peaceful protest to work, your opponent has to actually adhere to the rules.
Trump shares this proclivity for disregarding the rules with his Nazi idols. He broke the rules regarding racial discrimination when operating his fathers residential properties. He broke the rules preventing powerful people from selling fraudulant services to the most vulnerable. He broke the rules prohibiting self-dealing through charities. He even breaks the rules of common civility, throwing tantrums when people disagree with him and continually berating his opponents with complete falsehoods.
He continues to flaunt those rules even now, before he has taken office. He talks to world leaders on insecure lines, appoints bigots like Stephen Bannon and Mike Pence and Kris Kobach to his transition team, and conducts business he will directly profit from while president. He calls the whole press corps liars - echoing the German "lugenpresse", which his supporters are now unironically using - and denies them access to his administration.
And instead of resisting, instead of making every news story, every day, every hour, every minute about how Donald Trump is an unstable fascist bigot, the media rolls over and asks "How can we work with you, dear leader?"
To say that Donald Trump is an unprecedented American leader is not an exaggeration. We have lived in the longest period of general stability - thanks to our position as a superpower after World War 2 - in our nation's history. Part of this is because no President has decided to buck the system too hard. When Richard Nixon was impeached, he resigned instead of causing a succession crisis. When Bill Clinton was elected, George H. W. stepped down.
But part of this is also because we simply didn't notice the water boiling slowly, cooking us alive without our notice. Nixon, and to a worse extent Reagan, empowered kleptocrats to dismantle government into easily-lootable private corporations. George W. Bush normalized the notion that we are permanently at war with the rest of the world. Mainstream media, rather than correctly calling out fascists for being fascists, gave everybody "equal air time" regardless of how insane or dangerous they are.
This crisis was a long time coming. It is the natural extension of the toxic ideology of conservatism and the noxious oppression of free-market capitalism. Even if Clinton was elected, she merely would've stalled the oncoming political crisis. Now that Donald Trump is here, we can no longer look away and pretend that our house isn't on fire. It was aflame the whole time.
So now that we are here, let's take measure of the options available to us.
We can protest in the streets, marching with signs and demanding a recount or impeachment. This has worked before in US history, but usually because the government was split along partisan lines. With Republicans in control of every branch of government in the wake of Trump's victory, it's seriously unlikely that we'll be able to effectively make a change by just being loud. Our rulers know protests are toothless without the danger of riots.
Speaking of riots, we could riot, or at least threaten to. MLK actually got the Civil Rights act passed because of riots; whites were so afraid of black riots that they finally capitulated. Same for Gandhi; the British were so terrified of Indian-led riots that they left the country. While riots don't look good on the evening news, they tend to leave a lasting impression on the ruling class.
We could enact economic pressure through boycotts. If it wasn't clear at the beginning, I'll spell it out for you now: boycotts do nothing of substance unless enforced by the state.
We can attempt to use every rule of government to get Trump removed from office. This option is appealing because it doesn't resort to violence, but that is also fundamentally its weakness. Trump is a man who only speaks the language of violence, and the GOP shares this trait with him. They will flagrantly disregard the rules until they are actively punished for it, and the rules of a government they now control don't really matter.
This is the crux of our problem. Donald Trump is not merely a dangerous president. He is a dangerous president with full partisan control of every branch of our government. Any laws his lackeys dream up can and likely will be passed. And thus rules no longer matter. We failed to learn the most important civics lesson of all: that rules are made to suit the people in power.
We are hobbled by our devotion to dignity, fairness, and rules. We assume our opponent is willing to live by the rules we all mutually agreed to before the bout. But Trump is a sleazy backroom boxer putting horsehoes in his gloves, and he doesn't even try to hide his contempt for civil society, fair play, rule abidement. He is here to wreck everything in the pursuit of his ego, and his devoted neo-Nazi followers support him because of this, not despite it.
The only dignity you should pay neo-Nazis is a funeral. The only images they should see of their kind on national television are the beaten and bloodied faces of their fellow fascist friends. By refusing to make a moral distinction between defense and attack, we automatically equivocate the people defending their rights bodily with those who would take them away. Under such a bizarre moral compass, the French Resistance was just as bad as the Nazis, the Jews just as bad as their camp guards.
There can be no capitulation, no compromise, no empathy for the people who would take the lives of the most vulnerable and subject them to cruel injustice. By affording them even a tiny fraction of a sliver of mainstream acceptance, we doom ourselves to the same destruction wrought upon Germany, Italy, Spain, and countless other democracies and republics undone by the rule of tyrants. We thought the rules would keep the darkness from consuming us, but all they did was hold us in place so we could be eaten whole.
The danger posed by fascists like Donald Trump and his ilk is very real. History makes that abundantly clear Let's not understimate it.