I normally keep my personal views on politics to myself. It’s not that I don’t have opinions on the subject, I definitely do. However, I believe that politics are personal, a lot like religion or abortion, so I don’t share them unless asked.
This approach has allowed me to stay friends with both conservatives and liberals and everyone in between. Political views are merely a small part of what defines us anyway. Or so I thought.
I was disappointed in the outcome of the recent presidential election. While Clinton was far from perfect, she seemed the most qualified for the office. She had 8 years in the White House as First Lady, was elected Senator and was a Secretary of State. In comparison, Donald Trump had no political experience. During the primaries, I didn’t think he has the temperament or political savvy to be an effective president. Obviously, the citizens of Michigan and Pennsylvania felt otherwise.
Since President Trump’s inauguration, it has been a rollercoaster ride of poor decisions, failed policy initiatives and fights with the news media, his cabinet members, and Congress. During this time I have remained largely quiet, allowing events to take their course naturally. The United States government is made of sterner stuff, and the antics of an undisciplined, boastful egomaniac cannot really affect the bureaucracy of the government. Trump would not be the first egomaniac to be president, he probably won’t be the last. In fact, some of the more “reality TV” moments this administration have been downright amusing.
So I kept my opinions to myself, made fun of the really stupid things with my liberal friends, but didn’t antagonize those who supported him in the election. This is America, it is a free country, and we have the right to vote for whoever we choose. Even if that choice is someone the majority of Americans don’t agree with. I could accept that. I rightly assumed that Congress and the Courts would curb some of Trump’s excesses.
In fact, my only “real” worry dealt with Russia meddling in the election, but again, while the wheels of American justice may turn exceedingly slow, they DO turn. There is now an independent investigator looking into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to impact the election. While it is not moving with the speed we would all hope, I remain confident that IF there is evidence of collusion, that evidence will see the light of day. And if nothing is found that’s fine too. Then we can all focus on the other issues facing this country.
So for the past 6-7 months, I remained quiet, keeping my opinions to myself, stayed off of social media, and tried not to blame Trump supporters for the ills of this administration. Congressional elections are just around the corner, and if people were unhappy with how we were being governed, it would be addressed during that election cycle.
Then came Charlottesville.
While the events and violence in that picturesque college town were traumatic enough, what came afterward REALLY opened my eyes. A sitting US president publicly equated the actions of neo-nazis and white supremacists with those protesting their message of hate and racial intolerance. This shook me to my core. 70 years ago, hundreds of thousands of Americans who gave their lives to free Europe from the tyranny of Nazi fascism. Flash forward seven decades, and our president indicated that people fighting the fascism in their own country were equally at fault.
While the country reacted in outrage, personally I realized that my silence avoided conflict with Trump supporters, it had another effect. My silence was tacit approval of bigotry and intolerance of my fellow citizens and human beings by the President and his followers. By not voicing my opinions in a clear and constructive way, I allowed my beliefs to be undermined by those who hate good people in my country, and the ideals upon which the country was founded.
Following the principles of this country can be hard sometimes. Our Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, even if words spoken are vitriolic words of hate and bigotry. But the Constitution protects MY freedom of speech as well, and I now understand that I need to exercise it. Our social contract requires that ALL sides respect the rights and privileges of others. But that also means that those that preach for the intolerance of others are not worthy of tolerance themselves. Our President willfully ignored that founding principle of our society.
As a result, I will no longer remain silent to appease others. While I recognize that this may cause me to lose family and friends, I am quite willing to make that sacrifice. I will no longer show tolerance to the intolerant. I have been far too willing to give up my beliefs for the feelings of others. That must end now.
It used to infuriate me with people would say that Bush or Obama was “not my president”. They were duly elected, so even if they didn’t support the views you wanted them to support, as a citizen of this country they WERE your presidents. Even though Donald Trump has repeatedly stumbled through every initiative of his administration thus far and made decisions I vehemently disagreed with, I have recognized him as the President of the United States. Even when he referred to any citizen who didn’t vote for him as an “enemy” or maligned Democrats as “losers” or “whiners”, he was still our President. He lied repeatedly, has no understanding of the foundational concepts of our government, and would rather play golf than govern, but I have NEVER said that Donald Trump is not MY president. Until now.
All through his time in office Trump has gone out of his way to marginalize those who do not support him. People like me. I’m an American citizen, I have rights guaranteed by our Constitution, which I will now exercise. Since you don’t seem to care about all the citizens you swore to protect at your inauguration, I no longer care about you. I cannot respect the Office Of The President because YOU don’t. You have disgraced the hallowed office which you now hold. You are NOT my president. The hell with you.