After the historic protests on Saturday, I heard a lot of Republican voices insisting that the protesters needed to stand down in order to unify the country, and to tone down their rhetoric, because even if they don’t like the man, they need to respect the office.
To which I can only — very sadly — reply, you broke it, you bought it.
After eight years of conservative leaders calling President Barack Obama “not a real American” who was “on the side of the terrorists” and didn’t have American values, after eight years of constant disrespect, after the tea party shut down town hall forums intended to discuss the Affordable Care Act in city after city, you broke it.
You spent eight years slandering the president of the United States, saying he his supporters weren’t “real Americans.” Asking for someone to respect the office now is to suggest that there is a sense of fellow feeling you could call on to convince them. But if they, and the Obamas, aren’t “real Americans,” what would that fellow feeling be?
I say this with a great deal of regret, because I think the loss of our civil society is a big cause of many other things that have gone wrong to bring us to this point. And, in fact, we do need everyone to calm down and — yes — to the extent humanly possible, to respect both the office of the presidency and one another.
So I’d like to propose a simple solution that liberals and progressives and protesters commit to offering the president of the United States the same level of respect and deference that he offers to America’s Mexican and Muslim citizens.
It seems only fair, right? I mean, after all, he works for them. He has gone from being a private citizen to a public servant — their servant. Our servant.
Surely the president of the United States owes his citizens as much respect as they owe him. This is a wonderful chance for him to lead by example.
Until then, I think it’s fair game to call President Donald Trump a rapist. Not literally, of course, I mean, it’s a joke, right? Like the ones he makes all the time? What, now you think calling somebody a rapist isn’t funny? Although he has admitted to the whole “you-know-what grabbing” thing and is being sued for sexual assault, so, maybe it’s not actually a joke? So hard to tell, maybe we should just say “the Republicans are sending us their rapists.” Even though we assume some of them are good people.
But if he treats Americans of Mexican descent with respect, then I will absolutely insist that liberal protestors recognize this and return the sense of decorum.
Until then, we can certainly call Trump a threat to national security who needs to be monitored until we know what is going on. I mean, if the president is going to talk that way about the people he serves, then surely they can talk that way about him.
Because it’s a free country, free speech is guaranteed. But respect is earned. And if the president can deem protestors exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly to be illegitimate, then surely they can say that of a president elected without the popular vote.
I would like to give the president respect. I really would, although I do not believe America is in the kind of crisis that only billionaire cabinet appointees from Goldman Sachs and an oil company can fix. He is putting our collective fate in the hands of the cabinet most likely to have outsourced your job.
Still, he is our president, and he deserves to be treated with civility and respect. Our country will be better off if it is the kind of country that treats one another with civility and respect. We broke it, and we would all be better off if we could return to a more polite, less hysterical, way of talking about one another.
But leadership starts at the top, not the bottom. We cannot hold our protesters to a standard that our president won’t follow.