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Friday, November 11, 2016

Save Your Outrage

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.

Fuck Trump?

Fuck you.

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.

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