I’ll be honest. I have struggled with the urge to attack Trump with the same ferocity that his supporters attacked Obama and Clinton. I’m sure that urge will continue to rear it’s ugly head over the next 4 years, and I am sure there will be times when I don’t control it as well as I’d like to.
I cannot control what is happening with our government, right now. I tried like hell to get my candidate elected and I failed. We all failed. The Democratic Party and the Progressive movement failed. We are ALL culpable. No one gets a pass. We are going to have to have some hard discussions to right our ship, but that is a topic for another day.
What I want to discuss today is how we react to the situation in which we find ourselves.
Throughout both terms of President Obama’s administration, we have all watched how the GOP and the alt-right movement reacted to him. They flew flags upside down and refused to acknowledge that Mr. Obama was their president. They attacked the First Lady in the grossest of terms, they invented falsehoods to de-legitimize his presidency, and they spoke often of armed revolution. We were all horrified by the intensity of their hatred and their disrespect for the office of the presidency. We judged them and found their actions and words deplorable because they were.
Now we find ourselves in the same situation, and the rapidity with which some of my progressive brethren have picked up the tactics and rhetoric from the Obama-haters is disturbing. You see, even though we can’t control what is happening with our government right now, we can ABSOLUTELY control how we react to it.
We need to set the example. We need to show those whose actions and words were so deplorable what a loyal opposition looks like. We can be critical of the actions and policies of the incoming GOP government while still maintaining respect and deference to the authority of the government and the larger framework within which democracy operates. Even when we cannot respect the occupant of the office, we must still respect the office.
I know that many of you will have a knee-jerk reaction to this. I can hear the chorus of, “But this is real, not some cock and bull story about being a secret Muslim or a secret Kenyan. THIS IS REAL!” I get it. I agree. That’s why it makes it all the easier to maintain respect for the office. We will have plenty to legitimately criticize without reverting to hyperbole and histrionics. As my very intelligent friend Christi SIngleton recently said on FB,
“I can work hard to try to look upon my neighbors with compassion, even if they can’t grant me the same courtesy. I can admit that I inclined to dismiss those who felt about Obama as I do about Trump by invalidating their fears as petty and shallow and ignorant, whereas my fears are legitimate, founded, and informed. I fight with myself about being a living example of love and walking in the light when it is fucking hard because I want to be a living example of righteous indignation and walk in rage so as to protect those at risk by frightening those responsible with my anger and unpredictability. This is hard. And I am right, damn it, I am justified.
And all of these feelings roiling inside of me? They are the same feelings that swirled inside the hearts of the losers of the last two elections. We want to dismiss those people because we don’t believe their fears were founded, or perhaps their fears were founded in the pathetic light of racism or xenophobia or entitlement, and so invalid. Regardless of the foundation of fear, they were afraid. And they lashed out. They hung flags upside down, the sneered as we passed by in our Obama shirts, they shook their heads and judged us as ignorant assholes. And now each and every one of us has picked up their script and revived the drama, reinvigorated the rolls, and breathed new life into the characters…. I’m reminded of how soap operas used to substitute in different actors for daily filming…. TODAY, THE PART OF ANGRY, INDIGNANT, DISAPPOINTED, TERRIFIED AMERICAN WILL BE PLAYED BY LIBERAL DEMOCRATS….”
For the last 8 years we have maintained that we are better than that. I believe we are. Now is the time to prove it. Now is the time to cling to the principles we believe in even more tightly than we ever did. It is hard times that try the soul. It is hard times that reveal who we really are,
So I won’t be saying President-elect Trump is not my president. For better or worse, he *is* my president. I am an American. I *believe* in our Constitution and our democracy. I will claim him so that I can hold him accountable. I will claim him because it is a consequence of our failure. I will claim him so that he can never claim *he* has no responsibility to me or any of the other Americans he maligned or threatened harm to during his scorched earth campaign.
I’m trying very hard not to let this turn me into someone I am not. Despite the fact that civil discourse and truth have been sacrificed for Trump’s presidency, I cannot and will not let myself become like them to fight them. Maybe that makes me a fool, but I’d rather be foolish than be unable to look in the mirror and recognize who I see.
Peace and Love, Yall