We’ve heard this a lot today: Donald Trump won the election, so let’s give our incoming president a chance to prove everybody wrong and perhaps even do a half-decent job.
Can’t we all just be friends now?
Generally speaking, this is a fair argument to make. It’s also the side I normally come down on with respect to newly elected presidents, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans.
But it’s particularly frustrating hearing it from people who voted for a man like Donald Trump.
Remember that this is the guy who has repeatedly suggested Barack Obama wasn’t born in America and isn’t a legitimate president – the same Obama who stepped up to a podium today to congratulate Trump on his stunning electoral college victory.
Did Trump ever apologize for his repeated efforts to delegitimize the first African-American president? No, he used it to fuel his political career and convince enough voters to buy into this conspiracy theory, which led him and the country to this dark place.
Now, those same supporters who egged him on want us, the majority of voters who rejected Trump on Tuesday, to roll out the red carpet and show the guy some love.
With all due respect to the not-even-plurality of voters who handed Trump a ticket to the White House, it’s a little hard to stomach your pleas to give the guy a chance when you spent every waking moment of the last eight years smearing our first African-American president without any regard for the truth.
Yes, I understand and can even appreciate those on the left side of the aisle, including Hillary Clinton in her concession speech and President Obama in his remarks from the White House, who are striking a conciliatory tone today. After an election season filled with divisive and often disgusting rhetoric, calling for unity is the right thing to do and it’s such a contrast to the Republican backlash that came after the election of Barack Obama.
When they go low, we go high, as Michelle Obama said frequently this year.
But as someone who witnessed the treatment of President Obama by the very people who now demand we bow to President-Elect Trump, I’m just not there yet.
I wish no ill on the incoming president. I hope, for the sake of so many Americans now living in fear, that he surprises us by not completely screwing things up.
But respect, my friends, is earned, not given. And Donald Trump certainly hasn’t earned any.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.