To be an American and believe in the American system is to respect the outcome of elections, especially when your side loses or, in this case, when the side you especially fear and detest wins. The right to vote does not come with a guarantee that the majority will make a good decision, but I believe we have to give the winners their chance.
Let’s start by giving the Donald Trump voters the benefit of the doubt, and assume that most of them are people with legitimate concerns about how our government has operated in recent years, who have worries about the dysfunctionality of our system that many of us share; that they are people who voted their conscience for a positive change. You may feel, as I do, that they made a poor choice of candidate, but the truth is they won and they get their turn at bat.
Trump won the election fair and square; there was no rigging, or at least, none beyond the whole Electoral College thing for which we have the founders themselves to thank. Congratulations, Mr. President-elect; I join with President Obama’s sentiment that “We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.” To me, that means starting with whatever common ground we share and all working together to make changes we agree on; next, we discuss the issues where we do not agree, and work toward a resolution we can all stand behind. I’m not saying that Trump deserves to be immune to criticism or opposition to his statements or actions, but that we judge him on his actions as president and president-elect; give him a chance in the new job.
He started on Thursday with a pretty low-key trip to Washington to start the transition of power, and I got the impression that he was a little in awe with the realization that this all is real. Right after that he reminded us of his proclivity to a lack of restraint when it comes to any criticism. In light of the large protests of his victory the past couple of days, the “real” Trump returned to Twitter Thursday evening:
Of course the best part of this is that the protests we’ve seen this week are exactly the thing Trump called for four years ago:
The totally unsurprising irony, though, is that Trump himself called for a march on Washington in the wake of President Obama’s 2012 win.
“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
He also tweeted, “He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!”
Trump finished the full hypocrisy circle nine hours later (degree of difficulty, apparently: zero):
And it took four more hours after that before he tweeted a perfunctory Veteran’s Day message. S.E. Cupp summarizes:
…in Trumpland, there are no consequences for rank hypocrisy. This is the total lack of self-consciousness that was once disturbing and now only merely amusing. Remember, Hillary Clinton would make a great President, he once said, until she deserved to go to jail.
The Republican primary was rigged, until he won it. FBI director James Comey was a Clinton hack, until he was very fair and professional. Trump would contest the election results, unless he won. It’s impossible to keep up with Trump’s in-the-moment justifications and hyperactive moral relativism.
But, we must try. It’s our job as Americans to participate in our own governance; that includes working together for common goals and the general welfare, and calling bullshit on our leaders when it’s deserved, and Trump needs to learn that. Religion scholar William Martin put it this way in Texas Monthly in 2007: “Whether in Mormons or Methodists, prophets or presidents, distaste for dissent and opposition to open inquiry are not admirable qualities and do not foster freedom.”