It’s been a week.
A week since I voted for Clinton and lost. A week to process what this election and the next four years might mean to my country, to discuss it with my family and friends, to reflect on what’s important.
A week to watch the aftermath of the most divisive election I’ve ever seen. A week of finger-pointing and name-calling from both sides, as if we were playing a game of dodgeball without a referee on the playground.
Most of the calls for unity ring hollow–too many of those calling spent the last eight years ridiculing Obama, and the last year calling the rest of us uncharitable names. Too many of the calls for unity sound too much like shut up and get in line instead of let’s work together to make our country better for all of us.
There’s little praise to go around on the left, either–the uncharitable names are flying from this side, along with demonstrations that will accomplish nothing and petitions that, if successful, will do more damage to our country than a Trump presidency. Any calls for unity from the left run the risk of being shouted down before they can be heard.
People are afraid, and the evidence suggests they have reason. Trump’s words during the campaign, and the words of a vocal minority of his supporters, suggest the fears may be solidly grounded. The next few weeks and months will show us how afraid we should be.
Of course, people have been afraid for a while for different reasons: afraid their freedom to worship was shrinking, afraid their freedom to arm themselves was threatened, afraid their country’s image abroad was suffering. Afraid their opportunity to provide for themselves and their families would never be as good as it had been.
We scoffed at those fears. Instead of listening to them, we said that’s nice and patted the fearful on the head and told them to go play while the adults worked it all out. And those fears were no less solidly grounded.
So the fearful sought change, and a master manipulator said the words they wanted to hear, and they united behind him, and they won. Fairly and lawfully, in an election that is proceeding exactly as the Constitution says it should.
I’m not happy, but I’m going to move forward.
So here’s where I stand:
I neither like nor admire Trump. He has always struck me as a man without honor, arrogant beyond reason, whose priorities include himself, and himself, and himself. The last year has not improved my opinion of him.
And he will soon be the lawfully-elected president of the United States. I will stand by him as the representative of the Constitution I once took an oath to support and defend. As long as he holds true to his oath of office, I will stand by him–even if that means stretching a uniform around my belly and going back into the Army.
I will stand by him unless and until he proves himself an enemy of the Constitution I once took an oath to support and defend. From that day, I will oppose him–even if that means stretching a uniform around my belly and going back into the Army.
In the meantime, I will wear a safety pin to show those who fear they are not alone. I will stand between those who need my help and those who would hurt them. I will share, here and elsewhere, what I think of our country’s course.
And I will do as I have tried to do for years: lead with love, listen with compassion, guide without force. I will add my voice to those who call for justice. I will do what I can to make sure no one wonders where I stand.
And maybe, one day, we won’t feel we need Trump any more.