The Peaceful Transition of Power?
Sorry folks, but he did win fair and square after all.
By August Wright, College of Charleston
Spoiler alert: This article is not attempting to persuade people to support or join Trump’s “side.” This article is merely pointing out why it’s good for you, as an individual person and citizen of the U.S., to give Trump a chance to be president before demanding his impeachment.
In the early morning of November the 9th, Donald Trump was announced the winner of the 2016 presidential election to the surprise of every non-white older male in the United States. Despite a decidedly fierce and bitter campaign trail—one marked with scandal on both sides—Trump came out on the other end, mostly unscathed save for needing to correct the positioning of his toupee.
Given how divided Americans were over Clinton and Trump, it’s perhaps unsurprising that, in the wake of his democratically elected win, numerous protests have broken out all over the country. While some people might argue that these protests are happening because it’s, well, you know, it’s Trump (and that’s me being sarcastic because nothing is worse than a protestor who doesn’t understand their own purpose), I think it’s safe to assume that, if Clinton had won, these same types of things would probably still be happening (although in a different fashion with different types of people).
I wrote last week (briefly) about the dangers of a two-party system in fracturing American unity. This election, I believe, has made it incredibly clear how divided we currently are as a nation. Instead of expressing normal levels of disappoint, Americans, in their beautifully over-reactionary First World way, have taken to the internet to declare that Trump’s win is the harbinger of the apocalypse (because Trump is the antichrist, says Lonely Internet Conspiracy Guy). I’m not so sure people in and from war-torn Syria would agree, but I suppose one’s notions about what the apocalypse is, or might be, has more to do with whether you’ve spent the last few years as an unwanted Syrian refuge with no possessions or home, or just sitting on the couch, waiting for the next episode of “Family Guy” to start.
I’m not trying to downplay the dangers and possible implications of some of Trump’s more disagreeable policies. The best example is the anti-immigration wall, for which Trump expects Mexico to reimburse the U.S. Few people know this, but Mexico is actually one of the wealthiest countries in the world and, as a result, Mexican immigrants will illegally come to the U.S. in order to get away from all that grandeur and luxury and to experience what it’s like to be a typical, poor American laborer (I want to stress that that was a joke).
I’m also not disagreeing with the protests—protests, not riots—but I think many people don’t actually know what they’re protesting aside from “Trump’s win.”
Unfortunately, and perhaps to someone’s surprise, protesting the turnout of a democratically elected official is about as useful and intelligent as insisting elections are rigged. I’m not saying protesting his win is a waste of time, but protesting his win is a waste of time.
The likelihood of Trump’s presidential win being rescinded or the vote being redone is extremely low regardless of how much protesting takes place (and remember, kids, “military coup” is just a fancy word for “extra big protest with military support.” It also usually causes a country to descend into, sometimes brief, chaos). The possibility is so nearly non-existent, you’re likely to have more luck planting a dollar in your backyard and growing a real-life Money Tree, which would certainly take away some of the sting of the election.
Right now, Americans have two options. The first option is to continue what’s happening now: Protests, riots, flag burnings, cancelling classes and midterms, cry-ins (tasty tidbit: The word “progress” has the root “pro-,” which comes to English from Latin and roughly translates to “stop fucking crying and do something.”), horrific acts of untoward racism (Cornell’s got a second cry-in planned after a recent study revealed that ingesting the tears of a Cornell student actually cures racist attitudes.), extreme anti-Muslim sentiments and schoolchildren writing deportation letters and giving them to “Hispanic” schoolchildren.
Somewhat unnecessary aside: I say “Hispanic” because, in most of these cases, the people involved are actually citizens of the U.S. While I respect that many American citizens want to celebrate their different ethnic backgrounds—meaning, an American girl having a quinceañera because her parents are Mexican/from Mexico—I also think you have to be careful in highlighting differences because it can have the adverse effect of promoting disunity through an “us” versus “them” rhetoric (for example, the use of the term “African American” instead of “black” to describe black Americans. It’s like saying, “Ooh, sorry. The whites just snagged the last ‘American’ label we had! How about ‘African American,’ huh? Pretty good, right? It’s just like American except the word African comes first so everyone can pretend to respect you by constantly pointing out how different you are even though you’re just an American like me.”)
I understand option one seems very attractive to some people. I also understand that, despite the impending danger and damage of continuing with option one, we’re likely to stay on that track anyway.
Opposing “the man” and “the establishment” is one-part human nature, two-parts substance abuse and one-part gold hearted optimism (most likely a consequence of the two-parts substance abuse and/or the Midas touch). Reacting badly to your “team’s” defeat is also human nature. But at some point, human nature has to give over to fact and reason, and the fact here—whether it’s reasonable or not—is that Trump won fair and square.
There was no military coup. Trump was not installed as a dictator. He was not placed in high power by some other type of power other than the power of the vote. Whether or not you agree with how democratic elections in America run, and have been run for centuries, is something you can work out for yourself, although I would encourage you to come back to your feelings on the voting process when your “team” wins. Usually, negative feelings about the voting process are significantly lessened when your side has won.
The second option is to stop all that nonsense and give Trump a chance to be president. I understand that, for many Americans, that’s a hard reality to accept. However, giving Trump a chance doesn’t mean you support him, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t, later on, after you’ve given him that chance, criticize him and protest and say annoying shit like, “See? I knew it. I knew he’d be bad. See? I just knew it. I told you. I told everyone. I knew it.” Folks in hindsight, you know who you are.
If you support Clinton and/or Obama, you should give Trump a chance. Clinton, in her powerful concession speech, told her supporters, “We owe [Trump] an open mind and a chance to lead.” She also said, “Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it.”
Obama has also called for the peaceful transition of power. In his address to the public after news of Trump’s win, Obama told Americans, “We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country.”
If neither Clinton nor Obama can convince you to give Trump a chance, what about American unity? Jokes and politics aside, we are—regardless of skin color—Americans. The labels we use to mark our identities—Republican, Democrat, black, white, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, idiot girl on Study Breaks writing about idiot girl stuff—can empower us, but it can also separate, alienate and ultimately limit us. Obama expressed these same beliefs after Trump’s win: “We’re actually all on one team. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country.”
Riots are not peaceful and not what’s best for the country. Threatening others—including verbal abuse through derogatory terms which will not appear here—is not peaceful and not what’s best for the country. Trump is president, sure, but he doesn’t even “take power” until January 20, and yet, for some reason, people are setting the world alight in anger and pure hatred.
Everyone resisting Trump and everyone supporting him want what’s best for the U.S. The opinions are different, the rhetoric can be frightening on both sides and everyone is stupid in their own, special way. Accepting Trump as president is not accepting or supporting his policies. Peacefully accepting his win, however, is good for the country and good for us as citizens.
Besides, there’ll be plenty of time later to protest, riot, pillage and loot, and if you can’t get behind Trump, Clinton, Obama or the spirit of American patriotism, you can definitely get behind the prospect of future looting.