Just home after an evening of driving. I usually work a
little bit later, but I decided to cut things short. As I write this, police
are clashing with rioters in downtown Portland. Shop windows have been
shattered. Buildings and street signs are covered with anti-Trump graffiti.
Rioters pulled a guy out of his Jeep because he had American flags on his car.
I understand the anger and fear these protesters are feeling
because I’m feeling it, too. We have made probably the worst electoral decision
in the history of this country, a decision that may well threaten the very
foundations of the democracy we live in and the constitutional system of checks
and balances that Americans hold dear.
These are scary times. I haven’t had a good night’s rest
since Tuesday and I’ve got that “just about ready to puke” feeling in the back
of my throat.
But these riots are bullshit.
Let’s start with the name: Not My President. Sorry to inform
you, but he is, or at least he will be come January. Trump won the election.
Period. Granted, he won on a technicality and more people voted for Hillary,
but this is how we elect the president. I’d love to see that change, but for
now, we’re stuck with the crappy Electoral College.
One of the biggest sins of the right over the past 8 years
was the relentless campaign to deny Obama’s legitimacy as a president by
claiming he wasn’t really American. It was notable during the debates that
Trump called Obama “your president.” That was wrong. And it’s also wrong to
deny that Trump will legitimately be president, no matter how much you want
that to not be true.
And while a night of angry but peaceful protest might be
useful to send the message that the next president will not have broad popular
support, what’s happening now is an adult version of a temper tantrum.
Because the problem is that Trump hasn’t done anything yet.
Yes, it’s lead a despicable life and said and done horrible things during the
campaign and been basically a walking symbol of everything that is wrong with
America. But this is not something we just learned yesterday. We’ve always
known this, and despite that fact, people still voted for him. And since he
won, he’s done exactly two things: he gave a surprisingly gracious acceptance
speech, and he went to the White House and did and said what he was supposed to
do. That’s it.
So if you’re out rioting in the streets now, it’s really
because you’re upset the candidate you didn’t like won. But that’s not yet a
sufficient grievance. Mobs don’t get to overturn an election.
On retaining wall by the freeway, someone wrote in 20-foot
high letters: FUCK TRUMP.
Trump is a terrible person and I have every reason to
believe he will be a terrible president. But Portland is great. Why are you
trashing our city? It’s not going to make Trump any better, but it will make
our city worse. And if things start going really bad with a Trump
Administration, this is all we’ve got. We’ve got a great city to live in and we
should all put a lot of energy into making it even better because that may be
the only thing we have control over during the dark days ahead.
Instead, people can’t go out at night and it will cost
thousands of dollars to clean up the damage. And you’re doing this to a city
whose population rejected Trump by a margin of something like 10-1. You’re not
even punishing the people to did this to you, but instead you’re making things
bad for the people who tried to stop it.
My advice: save your outrage.
Trump has promised to do a lot of awful things and at times
seems unconcerned with how the government works and the constitutional limits
to his power. There are legitimate fears that he will move to limit free speech
rights, suppress the free press, and persecute religious minorities. If Trump
does (or even tries to do) these things or any other of the scores of terrible
things he’s proposed, I will be right out on the streets exercising my right to
assembly and peaceful protest.
But for now, save your outrage. You’re going to need it.