Denouncing the agenda of President-elect Trump is not an act of disunity. Where would the United States be without ordinary citizens speaking up and questioning the policies and decisions of their elected leaders? As former Republican House member Margaret Chase Smith once said: “Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize. The right to hold unpopular beliefs. The right to protest. The right of independent thought.”
Personally speaking, I am unwilling to extend Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. He is not my President. He is not my representative. He is not my fellow American. Trump lost my confidence when he mocked the disabled and then lied about his intentions. He lost my allegiance when he threatened to put a political opponent in jail. He lost my trust when he bragged about sexual molestation of women. He lost my faith when he attacked President Obama as being a possible Muslim foreigner. He lost my belief when he denied the science of climate change and vowed to dismantle the EPA. (In his election campaign, Donald Trump called the EPA a “disgrace.”) He lost my respect when he praised Putin and emboldened countries to develop nuclear weapons. And he lost all chances of earning my vote or future support when he said that torture should be legalized.
When I hear people say that it is necessary to accept defeat and move on because Trump won and that’s how democracy works, I would reply that they are not just advocating to move on from the results of the election. Frankly, it sounds to me like they are telling people to move on from their sovereign duty to think and act as free citizens. I for one am not willing to do that. It is also easy for white people with moderate political views and neutral opinions on morality to say let bygones be bygones. They are not the ones who will need to worry about a growing climate of racial hatred, religious bigotry, and vigilante attacks.
Sadly, the vitriol of Trump’s campaign can already be linked to real violence within our homes, on our streets and inside our classrooms. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been at least 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation since the election. The Anti Defamation League has issued a report about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks (especially against journalists), and school administrators are witnessing a dramatic spike in bullying across the country. This is not a temporary exhale of aggression after a long and intense election. For anyone who has studied the rise of autocracies throughout history, it looks like the birth pangs of a new period of civil intolerance.
I plead with anyone who opposes Trump to speak out. This is not the time for naivety, politeness, blind belief, and silence. In the words of M.K. Gandhi, “All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.”