playing nice is apparently not an option
Yesterday was inauguration day: the victors were celebrating, some of the gracious losers showed up to wish the new guy the best, and the sore losers held vehement demonstrations of their self-righteous indignation.
Inauguration day is the kind of thing that I think is worth celebrating: we’ve figured out a process of peaceful leadership transition - not every nation can pull this off. In fact, on the very same day, the leader of Gambia was having to be escorted from his country after losing an election but refusing to vacate the office, even after the new president was sworn in. Peaceful transition is still not the norm all over the world, and it’s something that the USA pretty much invented. We should be proud of this.
The official events all went as planned: oaths, prayers, parades, balls, important reportage of what the First Ladies were wearing. But it wasn’t all handshakes, marching bands and Herve Pierre. Inauguration Day 2017 was a case where the best thing about U.S. brought out the worst in us.
There was violence and property damage and idiocy of all kinds. Rowdy demonstrators waved “Stop Trump Nuclear Arms Race” signs before he even had a chance to start one. An angry group smashed plate-glass windows at a Starbucks and a Bank of America branch because … well … because. A limo was set on fire. Two hundred people were arrested. More probably should have been.
A white supremacist who likes, but has nothing to do with, the new administration was being interviewed on a public street and was punched in the face by a more tolerant by-stander while cameras rolled. I don’t feel particularly sorry for the guy because his bigotry is disgusting. But c’mon people, we can’t just go around slugging guys we don’t like. The First Amendment gives all of us the right to stand on a street corner and make an ass of ourselves … it’s protected speech. Swinging your fist into his face is not.
There also were more formalized protests: an ethics complaint was lodged over some lease deal that Trump has in a Washington DC building. I don’t know what it’s all about and honestly don’t care. The complaint was lodged about an hour after the new president was sworn in. He probably hadn’t even taken his first official pee, yet.
A liberal friend of mine told me way back in October that it wouldn’t be this way, but of course she said this when she was sure that someone different was going to be inaugurated. We were discussing the divisiveness of the political climate, and I made the statement that I thought electing either major party nominee would lead to four more years of stalemate, scapegoating, and power playing, instead of good government. She begged to differ. She was convinced that the Republican party was sufficiently embarrassed by their candidate and that come January and Hillary’s inauguration, the Republicans would play nice again.
Well, we both turned out to be wrong about who would take the oath of office, but the climate remains as I thought it would and I stand by my original idea that we are so polarized in our politics that regardless of which major party candidate wins the White House, the priority of the other party will be to undermine the presidency. For yet another four years the priorities of the two major parties will be to prejudge, oppose and obstruct the other, rather than to do their best for us, the American people. (see goin back to gettysburg)
Some people love our new president. I am not one of them. I’m a registered member of his party, but he hasn’t yet changed my opinion that he’s a bully and a brute. I am uneasy having him in the White House, so I sort of understand the frustration of those who were breaking windows and lighting cars on fire. But this is not how civilized societies behave. We have a set of rules for electing and installing our national leadership. Respect for the rule of law is what separates the developed world from the undeveloped.
While I'm troubled that my party would nominate such a blatantly offensive man for the office of President, I'm even more troubled with calls to oppose him and embarrass him at every opportunity, rather than looking for common ground - it's an attitude that isn't productive or progressive. If we - the American people and our leadership - don't even try to play nice together, we stand a very good chance of completely wasting the next four years, and possibly doing irrevocable damage to our republic. I stand on my assertion that the single biggest threat to our country is our own inability to respectfully disagree with each other. We've lost something fundamental to who we are as a nation, and we won't move forward until we get it back.