The hashtag #NotMyPresident is quite popular right now. I can’t get behind it. Whether or not a person voted for Mr. Trump, he is now the soon-to-be Chief Executive of the country. So he will be our President as defined by the Law of the Land, the United States Constitution.
And, because he is our soon-to-be President, there are many legal ways to interact with him as defined in our U.S. Constitution. One can applaud his policies. Or protest them. Loudly. And legally.
After all, the night of President Obama’s inauguration – he had not even been in office for 24 hours – the top Republican leadership met and vowed to make him a one-term President. Now that is a strong protest. It may violate the spirit of their oath as public servants but it’s a pretty strong protest nonetheless.
Every citizen in the United States is similarly allowed by the Constitution to protest the new President-Elect. As a bonus, most citizens will not violate any publicly-sworn oaths when they do.
So protest, yes, but do so as patriots. True American patriots have studied our Constitution. They understand the document is the basis for our Rule of Law. There is a difference between protesting and rioting. There is a difference between arguing and assaulting. Patriots know this.
And indeed, the current wave of protests against Mr. Trump has been guided by the Rule of Law. Might there be isolated incidents outside this boundary? Of course. That’s simply statistics when thousands and thousands are protesting. To judge the large group by the few would be like labeling Mr. Trump’s supporters as racist simply because the KKK endorses Mr. Trump.
That type of judgement is neither fair nor American. We must judge political actions by the broad majority not the eccentric few.
However, even when the protests are orderly, some who voted for Mr. Trump are upset by them. Understandably so. Because their candidate won. Not by the popular vote, of course, but rather the electoral vote and that’s what legally determines the election as stated in the U.S. Constitution.
Those who voted for Mr. Trump love this country. They don’t love this country any more than those who didn’t vote for Mr. Trump but they don’t love it any less either. And anyone who voted for any of the candidates should be congratulated by other voters in the fellowship of being good stewards of our Republic.
For barely half of us bothered to vote at all.
Those who voted are patriots. Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters voted for him, the self-proclaimed law-and-order candidate, to keep this country strong under the Rule of Law. In fact, Rule of Law is what binds our country together. The United States puts every citizen, even the President, under the same laws.
That is Rule of Law.
Unfortunately, Mr. Trump’s election has clearly unleashed an immediate wave of hate crimes that is definitely in conflict with Rule of Law. There can be no question that these incidents are racially motivated and that they are connected with the recent election. They include writing “Trump!” on the door of a Muslim prayer room, writing “Whites Only” (and worse) in high school bathrooms, and spray-painting swastikas with the word “Trump” on buildings.
Neither our President-Elect nor his surrogates have addressed any of this in the days since the election. How can we #MakeAmericaGreatAgain if President-Elect Trump is silent about hate crimes made in his name?
We know Mr. Trump, as a businessman, loves seeing his name on anything. But next to swastikas? As racist graffiti? Surely there are limits to the man’s ego. Indeed, for even the slightest provocation, he’s been known to boldly tweet his disapproval. And yet he’s been silent on this issue.
We know Mr. Trump, as a President, is legally bound by the United States Constitution to “insure domestic tranquility.” Well, these hate crimes aren’t that tranquil. Doubly so when they are made in the President-Elect’s name. Surely Mr. Trump knows it will be harder to govern if his good name is besmirched in this way. And yet he’s been silent on this issue.
And we know his supporters voted for him precisely because Mr. Trump believes in the Constitution and its Rule of Law. Mr. Trump, as our President, is supposed to make us feel safe. After all, “Freedom From Fear” is such an American ideal that Norman Rockwell saw fit to paint it. Surely the supporters should be tweeting at Mr. Trump to crack down on those evil people among us who would rob Americans of their domestic tranquility.
And yet his supporters, too, have been silent on this issue.
Mr. Trump and his supporters routinely state their devotion to the Rule of Law. He and they complain about the protests, especially where they violate the Rule of Law. But where are their similar complaints about the hate crimes made in Mr. Trump’s name?
Update November 14, 2016: In his 60 Minutes interview taped on Friday, November 11 and aired the following Sunday, Mr. Trump claimed he didn’t know anything about the hate crimes until it was brought up in that interview. He turned to the camera and said “Stop it.” So far this has been his only reaction on the hate crimes. There has also been no activity on his Twitter account regarding the topic. He did remember, however, to tweet out a reminder for people to watch him on 60 Minutes. His supporters have continued to be silent as well.
Update November 19, 2016: The number of hate crimes committed since the election is now over 700 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the meantime, on November 18, swastika graffiti, along with the words “Go Trump,” appeared on the memorial for the late Beastie Boys member, Adam Yauch (who is Jewish).
That same evening, Vice President-Elect Michael Pence attended Hamilton on Broadway. He was both booed and applauded by the audience at large when entering the theater and at curtain a cast member read him a message and plea that was penned by Hamilton writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda:
We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton American Musical,” we really do.
We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.
But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.
Again, we truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women, of different colors, creeds and orientations.
Here’s a video of the speech, note tone:
In his Twitter feed, Mr. Trump chose to ignore the hate crime vandalism but tweeted about the Hamilton incident:
It is incredible that Mr. Trump and his supporters appear more concerned about safety in the theater than safety in the country at large.
Originally published November 13, 2016 in Footlights.