Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Respecting the Office

I'm seeing a lot of people asking those who did not vote for Donald Trump to "get over it" and "move on" and in the nicer instances to "respect the democratic process" and "respect the office."

You have to understand, this may be harder for some than it is for others. And you have to be understanding towards those who didn't vote for Mr. Trump. It's likely they didn't vote for him for a reason.

 To the women who have been sexually assaulted, it might be harder to accept a man who says "When you're a star you can do anything. You can do anything you want. Grab them by the pussy." Or who tweeted, "26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put met & women together?" These are women who have been violated by men without their consent. And now they are going to see a man in the White House who has all but admitted to doing the same. If you are not a victim of sexual assault, take a minute and just try to imagine what that must feel like.

You have to understand that to the women who have fought hard to be taken seriously in a male-dominated work environment, it might be harder to accept a man as President who refers to women as bimbos or says things like, "I have days where, if I come home-- and I don't want to sound too much like a chauvinist, but when I come home and dinner's not ready, I go through the roof." A man who continually reduces women to their looks. Who in an interview with New York Magazine said when referring to women, "You have to treat them like shit." Again, if you are not a woman, take a minute and try to imagine what that must feel like.

These are things that as a women, bother me because I can relate to them. There are Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, LGBT individuals, and countless others who have a problem with Mr. Trump because of a myriad of other examples. You must take the time to try and relate and understand.  It is critical. We do not all come from the same place, the same influences and the same experiences. And so we have to be understanding of someone who is not ready to respect Mr. Trump.

I will respect the office so long as I respect the man in it. I think that is fair.

And right now? And I'm only speaking for myself here: I do not respect Donald Trump.

Do you want to know a secret? I didn't vote for President Obama. In either election. But I had no problem respecting him as our chosen President. I had no problem "respecting the office." Sure I disagreed with him on some issues, but he always engaged in a respectful rhetoric. I could easily respect the choice of the nation, because I could respect the man we chose. (For the record, I am completely happy with the Obama Presidency, and I learned a lot about myself and my beliefs during his term.)

To reiterate: I will respect the office so long as I respect the man in it.

And to be clear, this is not impossible. I am willing to give Mr. Trump a chance. He has a very long way to go, and it will likely take him the entire four years of excellent behavior and respectful discourse, alongside changes in policy that move us forward and not take us backward. I am willing to forgive (but not forget) his past behavior and to respect him, so long as that respect is warranted from here on out.

I will concede that his Victory Speech surprised me, and for once it surprised me in a good way. It was a good start, Mr. Trump, for you personally. But Day One in Trump's America wasn't pretty, and it exemplifies perfectly what I was so worried about.

I realize that many who voted for Mr. Trump are at their core, good people. People who were voting for change. They were tired of career politicians, our nation's debt, worried about ISIS and our place in the world. But unfortunately Mr. Trump also chose to engage in some very clear, and very negative rhetoric that, whether he intended to or not, made him a champion for the intolerant: the racists, the sexists, the xenophobes, the homophobes. The list is long. 

But it's still not too late to get me on board.

A suggestion Mr. Trump? Call upon America and ask us all, each and every one of us to respect the laws of this country and to respect ALL of the people in it. Remind us that we all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Remind us that we all have a right to determine and define what that pursuit will look like for us.

Ask us not to follow some of your past examples (for everyone makes mistakes) but to follow the examples you plan to set from here on out. Don't ask us to help you "Make America Great Again" but instead ask us to help you Make America Greater Than Its Ever Been. It's a long slogan, sure, but one that I think more people will get behind.

Tell us that from here on out, you'll be conscientious and accountable for the words that you use and the behavior you engage in. Tell us that you are someone who is willing to better himself for the sake of our nation. This sounds like someone I could respect.

I didn't vote for you, Mr. Trump. But I am willing to stand beside you and fight to make this country better-- a country that believes in all of its people, and who raises them up to be the best they can.


And to the rest of us, to the whole spectrum of people that resides in this United States: it's okay to disagree. But you can disagree honorably and respectfully. We all come from different experiences, backgrounds and influences, and to understand that will bring you peace. 

Here's some solid advice on how to disagree:

I'll leave you with something I tell my children every morning:

Be safe.
Be kind.
Make good choices.
Enjoy life.


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