This post was originally published on Medium on December 15, 2016.
At this writing, it is just over a month since the 2016 election. Since November 8, I have come to terms with the reality that my candidate, Hillary Clinton, will not be president. I have not, and will not, however, come to terms with the idea that Donald Trump will soon become president.
Americans across the country are rejecting the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and they are pushing back in unprecedented ways. I am among those pushing back. We won’t change the outcome of the election, but we do hope to mitigate the consequences that may result from it.
Many of us have taken to the streets to protest in various cities across the land. Record numbers of people have called their elected officials to voice their concerns, and newly inspired activists have signed on with causes opposed to Trump. Others have taken to social media to voice their discontent. These protests promise to be sustained and unrelenting. In response, many Trump supporters have attempted to shut us down with words designed to bully us into silence.
It is not working.
“Get over it,” Trump supporters say. “Don’t be a sore loser. We didn’t protest when Barack Obama was elected.”
There is a sneering attitude of superiority attached to these sorts of comments. I am undaunted. To them I say, “Get used to it. If you didn’t want my protest, you should have voted for a less controversial candidate.”
No matter who you voted for, you have to recognize that Donald Trump was not a normal candidate. His difference from past candidates likely motivated your vote either for or against him. When you elect someone so different than the norm, you simply cannot expect that everyone will just fall in line behind him. There is no legitimate comparison of Trump to other candidates, as he is too far outside of the mainstream.You cannot expect everyone to accept the radical ways that he intends to change our government without complaint. Our protest is to ensure that his march through history is met with intense scrutiny and challenge. We are not lamenting our candidate’s loss, rather, we are exercising our right to protest the victor running roughshod over our country.
In case you truly do not comprehend why people are protesting this election so fervently, perhaps the following will help you understand:
1. It is the right of every citizen to vocalize his or her opinion about any election. Protest is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The notion that previous elections were not protested has no bearing on the present situation. People who were opposed to Barack Obama had the right to protest, whether they used it or not. Their failure to exercise their rights to protest is their fault, not mine.
2. Donald Trump is the only person ever elected to the presidency without some experience in public governance. His lack of experience requires more scrutiny from the public than others who have demonstrated track records in public service.
3. Donald Trump has voiced considerable disdain for the free press, whose role it is to hold elected officials accountable to the public they serve. Although tensions exist between the press and most elected officials, few have attempted to circumvent the press to the extent that Donald Trump has done. Furthermore, Donald Trump has benefited from an unprecedented state sponsored misinformation campaign from Russia that has been deemed cyberterrorism by the national intelligence community. Donald Trump’s disregard for the role of the free press requires more scrutiny from the public than other officials who have demonstrated their respect for the First Amendment.
4. Donald Trump has made numerous remarks that were dismissive and insulting to numerous Americans, including: Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics, immigrants from various nations, women, persons with disabilities, etc. His remarks have strongly implied that he does not respect the rights of many Americans, and his words have emboldened white supremacists to perpetrate hate crimes against minorities. Trump’s disregard for the rights of numerous Americans requires more scrutiny from the public than other leaders who have chosen their words more carefully in regards to persons of color, women and other minorities.
5. Donald Trump has appointed individuals to cabinet positions who have either been openly hostile to the departments they are designated to lead or have no relevant experience for their appointed roles. His preferences for filling leadership positions require more scrutiny from the public than past presidents who have preferred more reasonable candidates for leadership positions.
6. Donald Trump has used his Twitter account in ways that are alarming to people around the world. Whether it is a 3 AM Tweetstorm designed to malign a former Miss America, or remarks designed to provoke world leaders, Trump’s provocativeness in social media requires more scrutiny from the public than other leaders who have chosen less incendiary words online.
7. Donald Trump has business interests around the world that pose significant conflicts of interest to his role as president. These conflicts have wide ranging national security implications. He has shown no inclination towards divesting himself from these interests, nor has he allowed any transparency into his business activities. His opaqueness about his potential conflicts of interest requires more scrutiny from the public than other leaders who have shared tax returns and have been willing to give up business interests that posed conflicts.
8. Donald Trump was elected as a “change” candidate by a minority of Americans. Although he won through the Electoral College, a majority of Americans voted in opposition to the changes that his campaign promoted. That opposition remains. His proposed changes are radical in many regards and should not be allowed to prevail without challenge. The fact that a majority of Americans are opposed to the radical changes he has proposed requires more scrutiny from the public than past presidents who have advanced less radical agendas.
You many have reconciled the various controversies and provocative qualities of Donald Trump with yourself, and you may have been able to overlook his boorish behavior. Good for you. Just because YOU have accepted these things, though, does not mean everyone will, nor should they. A majority of Americans did not feel that he was worthy of their vote, and many have chosen to be vocal about their disgust of him. If you don’t like our protest, too bad. You could have chosen a candidate who would have provoked less dissent.
Don’t tell me to sit down and stop rocking the boat when you created the waves.