Since Donald Trump was elected president last Tuesday, Americans throughout the country have taken to the streets to express their shock, anger, and worries. Every single night for almost a week now has seen protests of some sort occurring throughout the nation.
This has generated some controversy. Many are denouncing the protests, saying that they are unjustified. Donald Trump was elected fair and square, after all. If you didn't want him to win the election, you should have done more to ensure a Clinton victory. We need to stop arguing and acting like children and accept that we lost the election, we'll have a chance to vote him out in four years. Just stop protesting, they say.
I disagree wholeheartedly.
The protests condemning Donald Trump are completely justified. I'd like to address some of the critiques of the protests that I have heard over the last few days, as well as discuss why I believe that these protests are not only justified, but absolutely necessary.
I have attended two protests. At the first one I went to, I heard a television news reporter talking to some people off-air. When asked for his take on all of this, he said that he understands that Trump is scary as the president, but feels as though Trump needs respect. They gave respect to Obama when he came to office, after all.
There's a lot wrong with this take. Obama got respect when he came to office because he earned the respect (as have all the presidents that came before him). Donald Trump has earned little to no respect for himself. Throughout his life, and especially on the campaign trail, Trump has said things and done things that would make any decent person lose respect for him. At Trump's literal first campaign event, he claimed that Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. Any person that makes such candid, racist, generalizing statements deserves no respect. When Donald Trump consistently makes statements that shows he thinks women are merely objects, the decent person loses respect for him. When Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, the decent person loses respect for him. These are the things that we have read about for months now, we all know these things but he never apologizes for them or goes back on them. Yet another reason the decent person loses respect for Donald Trump.
Further, we need to ask ourselves if it is actually true that Obama's presidency was greeted with respect. I recall Tea Parties throughout the nation that showed absolutely no respect for the president. Obama was greeted with that even though he has never said anything or done anything anywhere near the things that Trump has said or done.
I have heard people saying that Donald Trump won this election fair and square, and that is a reason as to why we should accept it and wait to express our frustration in the next election. First of all, Trump lost the popular vote. This is the second time that a president has been elected despite losing the popular vote in sixteen years. Something is wrong with our system and people are upset. They have every right to protest this archaic system that is giving us presidents we don't want. Second of all, since when have we had to wait until an election year to express our discontent? We have to be silenced unless there is an election? We have to just take whatever the government throws at us if it isn't time to head to the polls? Protest is an American tradition, our rights allow for it to happen and we must never give it up. If dissatisfaction exists, there is nothing wrong with peaceful protest. You should support the right to be able to protest peacefully whether you agree with the cause or not.
Finally, a lot of people are talking about unity. The election is over, and they say that this is the time to unify as a country yet again, even if we are not happy with the election. The problem with this, though, is that Donald Trump is inherently a divisive individual. It is very difficult for many, including myself, to accept that his presidency is a reality. The things that Donald Trump has said and done should be disqualifying. They would be for anyone else. How can we respect a man that is so candidly racist, sexist, xenophobic, ableist, misogynistic, and homophobic?
It's true, unity is important. But we should never compromise our values of acceptance and dignity in the name of unity.