Two days ago, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. There was some lip-service on from right wing media about the “peaceful transition of power”, even as rouge Anarcho-Syndicalists (aka Neo-Commies) smashed windows and set cars on fire in D.C.
The transition was, however, largely a peaceful one but many of the reactions I saw online throughout election day gave me a cause for reflection about the years to come. Many right wingers took the occasion to proverbially kick those they disagreed with while they were down. I get it. Barack Obama was a terrible president, who merely furthered the terrible legacy of G.W. Bush. Much of Obama’s eight years of presidential tenure was riddled with derisive venom directed toward the right. We were called racists, sexists, bigots, homophobes, Islamophobes, you name it. We were accused of having “unconscious racial bias” simply for being the people we are, or having a certain kind of skin tone. I get it. We were accused of not caring about the poor because we opposed unsustainable spending and the demoralizing consequences of the welfare state on the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans. We were accused of being monsters simply for wishing that our president would enforce existing immigration policy. We were accused of being partisan when we opposed shady, backroom treaties and agreements with hostile nations.
I get it.
I know why the right is jubilant that Barack has left the House. I know why right wingers lash out at those who oppose President Trump, but at the end of the day it’s childish and it needs to stop for several reasons.
Firstly, the mentality of “I’ve been hurt and am pissed off, so I’m going to take it out on you and show you how it feels” is not only a bit sadistic, but it’s the sort of shit we should’ve left on the playground back in elementary school. C’mon Trumpers, do I really have to say this?? What was the Golden Rule again? The worst are the Christians who gloat profoundly over the election of a decidedly non-Christian president (though they pretend he is), and post memes and such that are the social media equivalent to “Nyah nyah nyah!!!!”. Grow up.
Secondly, it’s very important to think ahead of the present moment. Not only are pro-Trumpers fueling motivation for opposition, but their attitudes toward those who oppose them are actually delegitimizing the calls they’re making for “coming together as Americans” for a successful Trump presidency. You’re making your opponents far less likely to work with you, and even more likely to simply desiring a Trump presidency which crashes and burns. Nobody likes a sore loser, but very few people have any respect for a poor winner, regardless of what they’ve experienced in the past.
Thirdly, we have much more important things to focus on as a country. This isn’t about meme wars, or “your guy” winning a competition. Our focus on politics should be on solving the problems of massive unemployment/ labor participation, massive debt which is crushing the American citizenry and the impending collapse of our currency, reigning in our illegal acts of war in foreign nations, and reducing the force of the State in general in American society.
These focuses are based in principles, and it takes more than a simple majority to create principles. It takes compelling argument and persuasion of others to see the merit of these principles. How can we focus on winning arguments on principles if we’re too busy taking shots at an ex-president who still has quite a loyal following. By taking these unnecessary jabs at a previous figurehead, you also alienate the people you need to win over to Make America Great Again, unless of course you’d prefer to use the iron hand of the State to shut them up. Which brings me to my final point…
The state of politics in America is, without doubt, a hyper-partisan one. Everyone admits this, but no one wants to accept responsibility for the deep partisan divide. It’s always the “other guy’s” fault. Again, this is playground mentality and not rational thought. A cursory glance at the last four decades of American politics would show that both sides have perpetuated their share of problems within the country. Neither side is absolved of blame, neither side is innocent of destroying American freedoms and opportunity. Politicians would love you to believe this because it’s politically expedient for them to blame others for the failings of government, rather than facing the reality that they are just as at fault.
There’s a danger to hyper-partisanship beyond its childish way of impeding process and that is this: Partisanship, and inability to create progress through legitimate means, brings forth the willingness to create progress through illegitimate means. For years right wingers strenuously objected to Barack Obama’s willingness to do end runs around Congress, only to applaud Donald Trump’s willingness to legislate in a similar manner. This method of governance not only discredits any notion of separation of powers, but it runs roughshod over any who dissent. It sets the precedent for the next administration, which could very well be your opponent to do the same to you.
Trump supporters, I know you’re super high on nationalistic fervor, and that “your guy” is currently in the driver seat, but it’s time to get realistic about the consequences of a blasé approach to Trump and the Republican’s conduct during these next four years. It’s of the utmost importance to restore the difficulties that were naturally built into the system to prevent the consolidation of power in one man or woman, and to treat the office, and your majorities with integrity. If we don’t do this then, when the pendulum inevitably swings back the other direction, you’ll be in a world of hurt.
And you’ll have no one to blame but yourselves.