What was lost in the election last week?
Decency. Humanity. Morality. All the way around.
From protesters destroying property in Portland, Oregon, to racists destroying a sense of safety in Silver Spring, Maryland, too many people are undermining the foundation of our country following a polarizing election. Our first order of business is to fix it. Because this is about democracy, really.
Donald Trump is going to be our president. And saying #notmypresident is the same as saying #notmyconstitution or #notmycountry or #notmyAmerica.
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It is our America. All of us.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. A plurality of Americans who voted - and a shameful 43 percent stayed home, and you better not have protested if you did - voted for her.
But the same constitution that gives protesters the right to peaceful assembly also created the electoral college that gave Trump the White House.
This is what democracy looks like.
Smashing windows in cities, or burning flags on college campuses, or staging walkouts at high schools won’t – and shouldn’t – change that.
Decent Americans have somehow lost their ability to control all the wrong impulses.
Sore losers protesting the democratic process are just as useless as hate-filled winners sneaking around towns painting swastikas and racist graffiti. I want to say that the only difference between the two is that one is ridiculous while the other is dangerous. But that’s not totally true, either.
The “Whites Only” graffiti scrawled on an Episcopalian church in Silver Spring and the swastikas drawn in a Bethesda, Maryland, middle school bathroom are references to bloody horrors in history.
So was the swastika used to deface a church in Indiana and the “#Whitesonly” written on a door in Minnesota. The connective tissue between all the hated? The word “Trump,” which accompanied most of the vandalism. Indiana even got “Heil Trump” on the outside of one church.
There were the fifth graders in Ventura, California, chanting “Build a Wall!” and walls in Durham, North Carolina defaced with “Black Lives Don’t Matter and Neither Does Your Vote.” Confederate flags fluttered at a Veteran’s Day parade in Petaluma, California.
Women in hijab reported having them yanked off in public, and a note to a Muslim elementary school teacher in Georgia told her to hang herself with her head scarf. A University of Michigan student was told she would be set on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab.
These are the deplorable acts intended to terrify religious and racial minorities. They must be condemned and not with a dispassionate, timid “Stop it,” which is what Trump said during a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday night.
When young people respond to this election’s outcome by burning flags and walking out of class, they might be making themselves feel better.
But remember when President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and 2012, and it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns? When black families found burning crosses on their lawns, protesters carried signs with nooses and racist caricatures and mobs burned him in effigy?
They were protesting his victory. They probably made themselves feel better in their fellowship of hatred, but they did nothing to change the Obamas’ address for eight years.
That brings us to the part where protesting the simple fact of our democratic process is dangerous, too.
Protest Trump’s actions and policies. Pressure members of Congress. Work hard to get rid of the electoral college if you’ve had it with the system. Support candidates in 2018 that can make real change. That is what democracy looks like.
Trump in the Oval Office? That is what democracy looks like, too.