Dear Trumpians: This Is Why We We’re Going To Keep Giving Your President Hell
“But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s been eight months since Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States, and I’m still burning with righteous indignation. But despite the out of control raging fire inside, I’ve been learning to co-exist with the political opposition. That means no more un-“friending” people on Facebook just because they’re Team Trump.
Alas, my current live and let live (misguidedly) attitude has left me wide open to the sort of pontificating that popped up in my Facebook feed last week, just as Trump was making Twitter history after sharing a fan-made video of himself bashing a CNN-headed opponent on July 2. The tacit endorsement of violence has since become his most retweeted post ever. #PresidentialGoals
The pre-Independence Day message that cluttered my Facebook feed on July 3 was a significantly less-celebrated tantrum that fanned the flames of my fury and left me seeing redder than usual. Someone from my childhood days in Kissimmee, Florida, re-posted a political screed blasting Trump’s rivals (aka “Trumpofobians”) for giving the American president such hell.
“NEVER, in my lifetime have I ever seen or heard of a President being scrutinized over every word he speaks, humiliated by the public to the point of wanting to hurt someone, slander, ridicule, insulated, lied to, threatened to murder him, threatened to rape our Beautiful First Lady, and have his children also insulted and humiliated,” the original author, who apparently was born during Jimmy Carter’s Presidency and wasn’t paying attention during previous administrations, wrote.
“I’m truly ashamed of the people of this country. I am ashamed of the ruthless, hating, cruel, Trumpofobians people that have NO morals, and feel they have the right to say and do the things they are doing.
“Every other President after they were elected and took the oath of office were left alone, they weren’t on the news 24/7 being dissected by every word out of their mouth, ALWAYS BEING PRESSURED to do this or that and never being given the support to do anything…
“ENOUGH is ENOUGH is ENOUGH, LEAVE THE MAN ALONE AND LET HIM DO HIS JOB FOR GOD’S SAKE! Sick of the HATERS….If you agree, put your name at the bottom and re-post it on your timeline.”
As I read, I sighed in resignation. It’s a sob story we’ve all heard countless times in the months since the election. Yes, extremists of any kind are scary (and Trump has quite a few of them in his corner), but for the most part, we the Trumpofobians have been peaceful and law-abiding, acting well within our First Amendment rights.
Remember the First Amendment, the one that guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”?
Had Americans historically chosen to just shut up and blindly follow the leaders, this country would be overpopulated by citizens who are second class in more than just theory. Women’s suffrage might be still a fantasy, Civil Rights a non-reality, gay marriage an impossibility, and slavery an ongoing reality.
If quiet compliance were the true American way, we would still be British subjects. Speaking of our founding fathers, should we reinstate the Sedition Act of 1798, which forbade 18th-century influencers from openly criticizing the government? It also tarnished the legacy of John Adams, the second President of the United States.
Did the author of the post, in his haste to indict those with opposing points of view, forget that the spirit of revolution 241 years ago made it possible for him to straddle his high horse today and look down on us sore losers who won’t leave President Trump alone? Did he forget that the Declaration of Independence, celebrated every year on the Fourth of July, was the ultimate middle finger to authority.
My objection to the post wasn’t just about political ideology. As a long-ago Floridian, I’ve made my peace with the fact that the majority of my Facebook friends from childhood probably voted for Trump. But I couldn’t ignore such self-serving hypocrisy, so I shared my opinion of it in the comment section.
“Not to turn this into a they said/they said contest, but please, let’s not forget or underplay the barrage of criticism and insults the Obamas faced over the course of eight years, from Michelle being compared to a gorilla to questions about Barack’s heritage that were raised by our current thin-skinned President himself,” I wrote.
“Yes, Donald Trump gives as good as he gets — and often worse — so let’s not portray him as a victim of big bad bullies!… Freedom of speech and the right to protest are cornerstones of the American way that Republicans are so fond of extolling, and they don’t only apply when they work in your favor.
“Anyone who runs for President, and more so anyone who actually gets elected, had better be prepared for the opposition to react, sometimes viciously. It’s simply a fact of politics EVERYWHERE.”
In a nutshell, if you come across people who don’t share your political views, challenge them, ignore them, block them. Don’t try to silence them.
Even if dozens of people hadn’t added their names at the bottom of the post (meanwhile, my Facebook friend’s re-post scored a mere 14 likes/loves and a handful of other comments in three days, giving me hope), I would have been well aware of the popularity of the sentiment, even in Hollywood. Although it may seem as if every celebrity is anti-Trump, a surprisingly sizable number of them aren’t. And A-listers who may or may not be Team Trump — such as Matthew McConaughey and Nicole Kidman — offered similar thoughts after the election.
“Silence means security, silence means approval.” — R.E.M.’s “Begin the Begin”
While I don’t condone threats of violence or personal attacks on Trump’s family, the President, for better, worse, right, or wrong, has always been fair game, no matter what certain Oscar winners might think. Abraham Lincoln, arguably our greatest President, had to suck it up for four war-filled years before being assassinated. Lyndon B. Johnson, another Presidential standout, had to learn to live with waking up every morning in the White House to Vietnam protesters outside chanting, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Surely Trump can deal with our collective side-eye.
It’s not like he doesn’t have a full defense arsenal at his disposal. Thankfully, in this day and age, that doesn’t routinely include water hoses, attack dogs, or guns in the sky, but Twitter has a far greater reach.
Trump has 33.4 million followers, and they give his own brand of negativity and fake news an abundance of daily positive reinforcement. If he wants respect and support from the rest of us, he’s going to have to do a lot more and tweet a lot less to finally earn it.