Not my president.
How many times since Wednesday morning has that floated across your Facebook feed or been dropped into general conversation?
Chances are, more than once.
It isn’t new. T-shirts and bumper stickers have carried the same message about George Bush, Barack Obama and, now, President-elect Donald Trump.
In fairness, the same thing was being said about Hillary Clinton even as votes were being cast.
But in the wake of the repudiation of government that was reflected in the final decision in Tuesday’s presidential election, people have taken to the streets to denounce the choice of Trump to lead the United States.
One of the largest gatherings was in California, where about 2,000 people marched through neighborhoods around the UCLA campus Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times reported the demonstrations “reflected sadness, anger and bursts of rage. Crowds openly disavowed the president-elect and a few resorted to vandalism.”
Following a race that so polarized the nation and an election that was so close it took until the wee hours of the morning for a winner to become apparent, it’s understandable there are people displeased with the outcome. That, however, is the reality of a democracy. There always will be someone who loses and someone who wins. The winner reflects the will and desire of the majority of the voters (yes, we know, Al Gore).
To think the derision of the office will change anything overlooks two important considerations.
First, the catchphrases and hashtags being tossed about last week ignored reality. People can say “not my president” all they want, but the policies that will be put into place through the president and members of Congress will have just as much of an impact on them as everyone else. Taking the approach of the ostriches that stick their heads in the sand won’t solve anything.
Second, it’s arrogance against the system that, while it might have imperfections, has worked since the infancy of this nation.
The United States has one of the freest and fairest voting systems in the world. Democracy means created by the people.
Compare that to voters elsewhere, who have little if any say under republics, monarchies, aristocracies or dictatorships.
We can’t help but be reminded of a scene in the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in which King Arthur is explaining to a field hand that he is king because the Lady of the Lake presented him with the sword Excalibur.
“Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony,” the field hand replies.
It is a comical moment, but the truth is that executive power is derived from a mandate of the masses.
We have that mandate now, and people are free to be disappointed with the decision. But if this nation is to heal and to come together, we must move beyond divisive pettiness.
This is our president.
This is our nation.
Division, not a single person or political party, is our greatest enemy.