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Not My President ~ Where I Stand

I confess it was difficult for me to accept George W. Bush as my president, but I did. I didn’t like it, but I did anyway. I didn’t approve of what he did to my country, but I didn’t deny he was my president. He was an embarrassment, but I never advocated his impeachment or his assassination, as did many conservatives concerning President Obama. But now I’m confronted with something new. For the first time in my life I find I cannot say this president-elect will be my president. 

A question: In a democratic society, can a citizen divorce him or herself from a legitimately elected official? 

By “divorce” I mean separate from, detach from, dissociate, disconnect. I mean to politically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, practically, existentially, to declare the relationship between citizen and elected leader to be non-existent, to say: “Though I am a citizen of the United States, President Trump is not my president.” I’m aware that the word “divorce” implies a legal separation and so my use of the word here is qualified. The only way I can legally divorcee myself from President Trump is by legally giving up my citizenship. I’m not willing to do that. 

I am saying this because for the first time in my life I cannot maintain my personal integrity and accept Trump is my president. He so tarnishes the presidency. His lack of character defecates all over the Oval Office. I would have thought his publicly mocking a disabled person alone would have disqualified him for the office. Or describing how he abuses women. Or inciting violence at his rallies. Or his support for nuclear proliferation. Or his claim that climate change is a Chinese hoax to undermine the US economy. Or his several bankruptcies. Or his complete and utter lack of experience. Or his pathological lying. Or his refusal to make public his tax returns. Or his support by the KKK and Nazi organizations. I would have thought any one of these things would have disqualified him. But no. My problem is, however, to claim him as my president stains who I am and I won’t do it. 

This does present me with a problem. During the election I was less than impressed with people who indicated that voting was a purely personal matter, that they would vote based on their principles alone. My response was, yes, vote on your principles, but also remember voting is a civic act and that, therefore, we have to also ground our vote in what we think is best for the common good. This is both a political and practical statement. It is practical in the sense that I have never known a candidate that fully embraced my values and principles. As such, I’ve always voted for the person who I thought most closely approached my values and the one I thought would best serve the common good. It is not that Trump does not share my values and my concept of the common good. It is that he is anathema to them. So here I am declaring that this time, for the first time, I am rejecting the legitimately elected president because I cannot both claim him as my president and maintain my integrity. (I realize that the 60 million people who voted for him and Trump himself could care less about my dilemma  and point of view, but I care and the integrity of my political and ethical position is not determined by or dependent upon its efficacy.) 

Practically and politically what does all this mean? Well, first I do not hope Trump succeeds as the president he says he will be. I cannot hope he succeeds in undermining the First Amendment because he doesn’t like being criticized. I cannot hope he succeeds in deporting millions of people. I cannot hope he succeeds in building a wall on our southern border. I cannot hope he succeeds in registering all Muslims in the country. I cannot hope he bans all Muslims from entering the country. If he were to succeed at these things, we would be close to living in a police state. However, I do hope he succeeds in not running the economy into the ground. I do hope he succeeds in not nuking some country somewhere in the world. 

It makes me feel weary just thinking about the implications of my position. As I write this I think of the Vietnam war, Nixon, Watergate, Reagan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, South African apartheid, George W., Iran. Not to mention trickledown economics, bank deregulation, and the one percent. And here we go again, facing what might be an even greater threat to the constitution and American democracy. Therefore, I will continue to write about political issues, will demonstrate when I can, will resist, will not forget who Trump is. We  should all be clear. Remembering and reminding are both political actions of resistance. 

As for accusations that I am not patriotic, don’t even start (See The Rights of Election Losers). Complaining, organizing, resisting, protesting, and civil disobedience are all legitimate and lawful acts in a democratic society. Democracy is an adversarial system of government. We all have the right to disagree. Calls from conservatives and the Republican Party for unity are at best humorous and at worse hyper-hypocritical. These are the people and the party that raised obstructionism to a political principle. When they thought Trump was going to lose the election, they started announcing their plans to obstruct a Clinton presidency days before the election was completed. Trump himself hinted that there could be a violent uprising if he lost. All I can say to their calls for unity is, “Give me a break.”   

Some might say I should at least give Trump a chance, to wait and see. While that sounds reasonable, the signs are not good. He is selecting white supremacists, racists, gay bigots, politically inexperienced rightwing radicals for his administration. It is beginning to look like our new government is going to be a alt-right gang dressed up in nice clothes. He is an authoritarian, deplorable, brutish man and I would suggest that instead of waiting and seeing, we organize now. 

President Trump is not my president.  

Copyright © 2016 Dale Rominger

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