Nobody cares one whit whether or not you consider Donald J. Trump your president. He is now the president of these United States of America. He won the election fair and square, by the rules — Electoral College and all — that everyone knew well in advance.
I won’t say, “Get over it!” Because you don’t have to get over it if you don’t want to—it’s a free country.
At least that’s the idea.
By the way, for the last eight years, I have encountered post after post on Facebook from folks proclaiming that Barack H. Obama wasn’t their president. I dismissed them like you dismissed them, as completely irrelevant. Beside the point, Obama was the president — elected both times by the rules.
And it wasn’t even very close.
On Friday, in the capital of our little piece of heaven, Mr. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president. Some people rejoiced. At these words, I did as well:
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left. And the factories closed.
“The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”
A commentator at National Public Radio compared Trump’s anti-Washington establishment remarks above to Ronald Reagan’s, which follow, from his 1981 inaugural address.
“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”
Both men embraced the notion that ‘We, the People’ can regain power over those (in theory) serving as our representatives in the capital. This specific goal has so far proven difficult to implement — those (theoretical) Washington servants have resisted.
Mr. Reagan also emphasized the importance of the individual, and individual freedom, as the building block of a truly free society. And in my mind a safe society . . . for each individual . . . regardless of race, creed, or team color.
Conservatives rejoiced at these inaugurals; Liberals not so much. Liberals celebrated Mr. Obama’s two celebrations. Not conservatives.
My beautiful, brilliant, thoughtful niece came into town for the Women’s March on Washington yesterday to protest Mr. Trump’s ascension to power. And in favor of a certain political agenda, with which I happen to disagree in large measure, I rejoice at her action. Because good, caring people getting engaged in politics are anything but our country’s political problem.
We can disagree without being disagreeable.
That’s absolutely essential in a national sense if the American people are to ever hold Washington politicians accountable. ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ and all.
Note: The political wedges dividing us haven’t simultaneously stopped Republicans or Democrats from enjoying high rates of re-election to Congress or stopped the growth of government power, or spending — the capital’s favorite metric.
Yet, along with the inauguration and the Women’s March, came acts of violence designed to disrupt Trump’s festivities. A limousine was burned, windows smashed out at various businesses (including a Starbucks where customers were filmed cowering under tables to avoid the onslaught), people punched in the face and police and citizens hit with rocks, bricks and chunks of concrete.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo referred to the disturbances as “some pockets of protest. . . some mixing it up with police. . . . Nothing major.” His account seemed disconnected from the tone of reporters on the scene and the violence and destruction displayed before viewers in living color.
Sadly, surprise is unwarranted. The campaign also saw numerous acts of violence. There was the Trump supporter who sucker-punched a protester, along with Trump’s provocative promise to pay legal costs for anyone mixing it up with disruptive opponents there. More menacing was the large-scale violence against people attending Trump rallies, most disturbingly in San Jose, California, when the city police force seemed to take the night off.
And in the aftermath, the violence seems to be condemned more on a partisan basis than a universal one. That has to change.
But don’t count on Mr. Trump to change it, or the Democrats in Congress. They benefit from the friction.
What about the news media? No, we better put reconciliation on our own plates to chew on and swallow.
That doesn’t mean to compromise any agenda or issue. It simply means to give those with whom we disagree the respect they deserve, to treat them as individuals and not stand-ins for “the other” group or gender or race or party or whatever.
It means supporting Pres. Trump when he’s right and opposing him when he’s wrong — not looking the other way, because he’s on the Red Team. It means our politics must be people- and principle-based, not partisan.
If ‘We, the People’ are to truly tame the political powers that have dominated Washington, you and I have work to do. I’m accepting help from all comers. Are you?