Of all of the things one can do in response to Trump being elected, one of the least useful and, indeed, counterproductive things is to claim that he is “not my president” or to otherwise deny his legitimacy. He won the election, full stop. For better or worse, he will soon be the leader of our nation. He will be the 45th President of the United States in an election that, whatever shortcomings our process entails, was legitimate under the law as it currently stands.
While it is, in my mind, imperative that we address the shortcomings in our election process, of which there are many, the more pressing and immediate business of those who oppose Donald Trump is to combat his policies as aggressively and effectively as democracy and pluralism allow.
- To vote in every election, no matter how insignificant the office and how small the matter is at stake, and to do whatever is possible to get as many other people to vote as possible.
- To make one’s voice heard to one’s representatives so that they know where the public truly stands. If we learned anything on Tuesday we learned that polling is broken. Do not let them base the course of our country on polls alone.
- To protest when events move one to protest. Never let anyone tell you that your well-founded protest is invalid or harmful or counterproductive when, in fact, protest is the essence of democracy.
- To donate time, money or effort to causes that matter to you and to seek ways to mitigate the fallout when policies and laws are enacted with which one disagrees.
In light of Tuesday’s results it is now clear that our nation’s values are far different than many of us thought, hoped and expected. This is not a new feeling for anyone, however. Partisans on both sides have woken up the day after an election day to that same feeling in the past and will once again.
But our democracy is not broken. Not yet anyway. Arguing that it is and that it spit out an illegitimate result the other night as opposed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure that what America does in the next four years reflects our values and not the values of Donald Trump is, actually, a far better way to break democracy than to elect an unpopular and reprehensible person.
The Constitution begins with the words “We the People” for a reason. It assumes that the people, not just one man, govern this country. Let’s start taking it at its word.