This column is dedicated and addressed to all my U.S. friends, associates and readers who are gleefully brandishing the “Not My President” hashtag and protesting the inauguration of the United States’ new head of state, Donald J. Trump.
Fact: Whether you voted for him or not (and personally, I voted for Libertarian candidate Evan McMullen), Trump IS now your president.
And he is all of America’s president.
The democratic process is not just valid if your candidate wins.
If you participate and believe in the process, you are obligated to accept the results regardless of whether or not you like the winning contender.
Otherwise you are as undemocratic as you claim Trump is.
That does not mean you do not have the right to protest decisions he may make, but it is irrational to protest his having been sworn in as the duly elected 45th president of the United States of America.
Granted, Trump won one of the most polarizing elections in the history of the United States, but now he represents each and every U.S. citizen, no matter if they supported him or his opponent, an opponent who received many more popular votes than he did, but significantly fewer votes in the Electoral College.
And that, in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, is how the presidential electoral process works, which means he is legitimate.
And while there may now be a strong grassroots movement underway to rewrite the 17th Amendment, any changes that may eventually be made to the U.S. electoral process would NOT be retroactive.
If you voted, you — and all the candidates — played the game accepting the rules as they are currently specified in the Constitution, which means you are now obliged to accept the results and Donald Trump as president.
Although Trump may have resorted to questionable and reprehensible rhetoric during the campaign (as did Hillary Clinton, who famously lumped half of Trump’s supporters into a “basket of deplorables”), now that he has been sworn in, he is a public servant and is obliged to work for and represent all U.S. citizens, including — and maybe, especially — those who did not vote for him.
But as U.S. citizens, you too are obliged to work within the system to help make democracy work and to join together to act toward a greater good as responsible members of society.
And as I have already said, that does not mean that you cannot protest actions or decisions President Trump may take.
Peaceful protest is an essential element of democracy.
But protest his actions, not his having been elected, because in that case you are protesting U.S. democracy itself.
And there can be no justification for protests turning violent, or throwing rocks at police officers, or vandalizing a Bank of America building, or setting private property on fire, any more than there can be any justification for ransacking a Carrefour department store and looting a giant plasma television set simply because you don’t approve of a Mexican government decision to raise the price of gasoline.
If you do not agree with a decision Trump makes, by all means, vocalize and demonstrate your disagreement (I am quite certain I shall be doing the same in the coming four years), but learn to disagree without denigrating.
And respect those fellow Americans who may not agree with you.
Yes, Trump is now your president, so don’t be shy to hold his feet to the fire if, as president, he behaves in ways you find unacceptable.
But do it in a peaceful manner and within the legal system.
Protest his actions as president, not the fact that he is president.
History has shown that once they take office, most politicians behave in dramatically different ways than they did when they were campaigning.
So judge him on his actions as president, not on what he said or did during his campaign.
It is in the interest of all U.S. citizens for President Trump to be a success, because if he succeeds, the country succeeds.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]