Having never supported Trump in the primary or General Election, I am trying to keep an open mind about his impending presidency. Some people grow into the job and accept the awesome responsibility that is thrust upon them. And while it doesn’t make me think more highly of Trump, it’s possible that some of the worst things he said during the campaign were cynically calculated to win votes—and that they are not an accurate reflection of how he will govern. That hope wasn’t enough to win my vote, but now that he’s the president-elect, that hope is all I have to cling to.
Basically, I think it’s now our duty to give the president-elect a small grace period. He won the election fair and square, and I think he deserves some space and even a honeymoon period. But my calls for this have been met with a lot of push back. There are basically three things I have heard repeated on Twitter over and over. I think the opposition to this sort of temporary truce can be boiled down to the following three arguments.
Argument #1: Trump isn’t legitimate because he didn’t win the popular vote.
This argument is both pedantic and redundant. If you think that winning the electoral vote doesn’t make one a legitimate president, then that’s on you.
Argument #2: President Obama was attacked and delegitimized from day one, so what goes around comes around.
Here, I think it’s worth pointing out that it takes two to tango. President Obama proudly declared “I won” in January 2009, when Republicans were trying to work with him. And while liberals frequently cite Mitch McConnell’s comments about wanting Obama to be a “one-term” president, it’s important to note that this didn’t happen until Obama had been in office for almost two years—and he was pushing through a major health care overhaul on a party line (unilateral) vote. In many cases, the people who cite this reason are really more interested in getting revenge than they are in getting ahead. But even if we assume that Republicans hurt America by reflexively stifling President Obama’s tenure (a debatable contention, to be sure), do two wrongs make a right?
Argument #3: People believe that they simply cannot “root” for the president-elect based on his policy goals and past comments.
The most defensible comments I received were from people who argue this point. They go on to say that not only will they not root for him, but that they honestly want him to fail. I think we can draw a distinction here. It’s fine to want him to succeed in some ways, yet fail in passing parts of his agenda with which you disagree. Having said that, I think people who espouse this view are basically saying the exact thing that Rush Limbaugh (“I hope he fails!”) was excoriated for saying eight years ago.
If you (like me) didn’t vote for the man, there is little (short of an armed rebellion) you can do now. We should accept the will of the people (okay, the electoral college) and hope for the best. But we must also remain vigilant. When he is wrong, we cannot remain silent. But I also believe that we should be rooting for his success. This optimism is for the good of America.