Thursday, November 10, 2016

Redpudiate: A Definition

Repudiate: to reject as untrue or unjust; to refuse to accept; to refuse to have anything to do with; disown.

I am guilty of doing what many of the more liberal-minded in our country did this year. I spent the campaign season convincing myself, and reinforcing my conviction by gradually limiting the sources of my information, that my fellow Americans were not reckless enough to elect Donald Trump president. It wasn't my intention to flood people with political anti-Trump snark, but faced with being shouted down in lengthy, unhinged rants by people opposed to my earlier more humble opinions it seems clear with hindsight that things were bound to end that way.

The reality is I will continue to scratch my head at people who, when a character flaw or alleged (or confirmed) criminal accusation is raised about our President-elect, choose to attack Hillary Clinton rather than defend Trump. The reason seems simple enough -- there is no defense for many of his actions and words. Some people even said as much leading up to election night: "I'm not defending Trump, I'm protecting America from Hillary." I get it. You hate her more than you fear him.

She was in the White House long enough, albeit not in an elected capacity, and has served in various government positions both elected and appointed for her to be a known quantity. She is flawed. No argument there. Do I believe she is a liar? Show me a human being who hasn't lied. Do I believe she is a murderer? No. Millions of tax dollars spent on multiple investigations would likely have yielded something by now. Do I believe she is responsible for the deaths in Benghazi? No. The Department of Defense is responsible for securing our embassies and Congress is responsible for providing the funding. Do I believe she intentionally destroyed emails? Probably. After comparing her alleged and factual sins to his alleged and factual sins, after weighing their potential strengths and faults as I saw them, I chose to support her.

Was I wrong? No. I simply chose the losing side, and I would if the election were held again tomorrow. Were you wrong if you voted for Trump? No. You simply chose the winning side, and you probably would if the election were held again tomorrow.

So, why am I concerned and what's up with the word "repudiate?"

I am concerned that Donald Trump, at countless rallies during which he worked his devoted followers to a rabid froth, has emboldened the bigoted and given undue legitimacy to hate. 

He encouraged people to lash out at protesters and alluded, even if jokingly, to the assassination of his opponent. He has been slow to denounce hate groups while being fast to play on the fear of Mexicans and Muslims the same way politicians before him have attempted to blame Italian, Irish, Chinese, Jewish and Catholic immigrants for all that ails this country. Whether or not he believes any of the words that came out of his mouth, the fact remains he played crowds like a fiddle until civility was nowhere to be found, a civility that many people who voted for him are now expecting from Democrats in the wake of his victory. That's easier said than done, but as a someone stated this morning, "Our nation is composed of oceans of good and only small lakes of bad. Let's focus on the oceans." A heartening thought, but even lakes have the potential to overflow and cause damage downstream. Just ask the people near Woodlake, NC, who were evacuated after Hurricane Matthew almost caused a dam to rupture.

I am concerned because hate speech, which I firmly believe should be protected under the principles of free speech, can be directly and indirectly responsible for everything from name calling at school to atrocious acts of aggression if allowed to build unchecked to a fever pitch. Trump's gatherings often devolved into xenophobic pep rallies. Regardless of what Trump might or might not have yelled into the microphone, some of his followers took it as an invitation to chant racist, sexist, violent words that were never repudiated by Trump.

When the leader of a pack questions the validity of another man's citizenship because of the color of his skin, or demeans women based on their looks, or boasts about molesting women, or encourages hate and fear of Muslims and Mexicans because he says they are terrorists, rapists and criminals, it serves as tacit approval of the resulting actions of members of the pack. Should it come as any surprise that reports of bullying in schools have risen sharply this year, that some minority populations feel inherently unsafe, and that swastikas are being painted on storefront windows to celebrate Trump's election? I fear for the safety of people who came to America seeking freedom from persecution. I fear for the safety of anyone who might look or be "different."

Many of the people calling for unification, peace, love and mutual respect are the same people who said, repeatedly, that Barrack Obama was not "their" President. They are shocked by citizens protesting outside Trump's buildings, yet they are the same people who questioned Obama's American heritage throughout his presidency. 

They've reeled for eight years at the idea that a black Democrat could have won office. They've cheered as the Tea Party movement derailed the Republican Party and wasted the last six years refusing, at every opportunity, to work with the President and Democratic members of Congress on any compromise for mutual benefit, at the expense of government institutions and the Judiciary. They were willing to sacrifice the nation to oppose one man. They set the lowest possible bar for how to behave when you don't get what you want and now they expect their opponents to rise above and be the bigger people? I'm sorry. They don't get to throw a collective temper tantrum and then lecture the rest of us about good graces the moment they catch a break. 

What are my hopes for the Democratic Party? I hope it and I can get our heads out of our asses. I hope it can find a fresh pack of candidates who don't tear each other to shreds during the primaries. I hope its sitting members of Congress show the humility the Republicans were incapable of mustering and compromise when necessary to accomplish good things for this country. I also hope they dig their heels in and fight tooth and nail to protect hard-won civil liberties, environmental policies, and consumer protections from being eviscerated. 

What are my hopes for a Trump presidency? I hope he at least makes an effort to live up to the principles of the Constitution. I hope he turns out to be the con man, used car salesman I think he is and doesn't do a damn thing he said he was going to do. I hope there's some depth of character lurking behind that silver spoon facade. I'm not expecting any of that, but I can hope. 

If nothing else, I hope our new President will repudiate the hate and bigotry he has so successfully stirred up. 

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