With the growing resistance toward’s the Trump Presidency, I have seen a large volume of posts and groups that are exuberant in declaring Trump’s illegitimacy by saying: “[Trump is] Not My President.” I will likely be met with some forceful disagreement on this particular issue, but the sad fact of the matter is: Donald Trump is our President.
Having said that, if you are still reading this article (and not angrily exited out of your browser windows), I will add that despite his status as President those of us opposed to his administration and policies must do so with the mindset that he is in fact the President, currently situated in the White House (save for the weekends at Mar-a-Lago).
Last week, numerous protesters took to the street on Presidents’ Day to rally against Trump in a movement labeled “Not My President’s Day.” It is our freedom to protest. It is our duty to resist. Our protests and resistance need to address the policies Trump hopes to enact and not target his arrival to the White House at this stage. Our participation in the obscene argument that Trump makes regarding voter fraud and electoral legitimacy only stains our cause and further highlights ourselves (at least in the eyes of Conservative America) as “sore losers.” One of my Facebook Groups presented this article on social resistance within a Venezuelan context. It is a good read, but it is also a catalyst for provoking thought on how we choose to resist. Our protests have to go beyond making ourselves feel good, but our efforts also have to be a productive use of our time that diminishes those in the highest seats of power that would seek to harm the very foundations of plurality and civil liberties upon which our nation was founded; lest we just become the unruly rabble that can’t get over an electoral loss. I’ve said it over and over again, we can’t afford to alienate conservatives in this fight. Already we are seeing the faint tricking of Republicans starting to show wariness towards Trump. John McCain has been the outspoken critic of Trump on the republican side of the senate, but now we see George W. Bush coming out in opposition to a number of Trump’s edicts from on high. It is a topsy-turvy world we live in when progressive liberals draw strength from George W. Bush in the resistance against Trump.
It’s not that Trump supporters are too stupid to see right from wrong, it’s that you’re much more valuable to them as an enemy than as a compatriot.
What I find particularly troubling and unproductive on the part of some within the Resistance Movement is the tendency to refer to Barack Obama as the “real president.” Again, this is detrimental to our movement as a whole as it only looks backwards. Even if we did have the ability to bend the laws of physics and turn back time, Barack Obama would be unable to run for a third consecutive term. Looking back and saying: “See how great it used to for be a liberal progressive under Obama” serves no function beyond a feeling of self pity and self-indulgent nostalgia. In the interests of full disclosure, earlier, one of my first posts on this blog pined for the days of Barack Obama as well. For all the praise and adoration we are willing to heap on the Obama’s doorstep, the most recent of our former presidents has remained conspicuously silent over the course of the last month. Where many thought the mantel of democratic leadership would at least symbolically fall to Obama, it seems he is enjoying a well-deserved break from politics at the moment.
Why do I feel strongly about this? Looking back blinds us to the future. In the event that Donald Trump either resigns or is impeached, we still have to contend with the line of succession. Mike Pence would henceforth transition to the Oval Office. If, however, the Russian Scandals manage to cast a long shadow over Pence’s moment in the sunlight of the Presidency, then we would look towards Paul Ryan for leadership of the nation. Both Pence and Ryan are highly conservative. I would also argue that after a fatiguing Trump Presidency, there will be a decline in the number of progressive liberals actively protesting. “We did it!” will be the cry of victory, but there will still be work to be done. We will also be faced with highly conservative republicans wielding a great deal of power and having the knowledge and experience to use it more effectively than Trump.We do, however, have an opportunity to bolster our political defenses and retake the House as mid-term elections approach.
Wherever you happen to stand on the spectrum of the opposition, I would urge that you remove “Trump is not my president” from your protester’s phrasebook. Trump is a terrifying figure to democracy. Yet, the real threat is that fact that the Republicans and large swathes of the American people are passively willing to overlook his inept governance and act as apologists for Trump’s bigotry in favor of his nationalist rhetoric. That is the true fright: Ourselves as a nation. Through Trump we are becoming well-acquainted with some ugly truths about ourselves as a collective culture and we must stop wistfully looking backwards and aim our gaze toward a more positive, open, free and inclusive future.