A reactionary, leftist movement has arisen in response to the election of Trump, and rioting has ensued as protest. This election response from the public is not unprecedented, as many disillusioned voters took to the streets in the wake of Obama’s victory eight years ago. As a democratic right, political demonstrations show discontent with the results whether grounded in righteousness or not. The marches against Obama were born out of racism, nativism and xenophobia. The marches now are against these very traits in the president-elect. While there is a false equivalency being made between the two protests, I will tell you why I disagree with the Trump opposition movement despite my strong personal feelings about the choice.
My logic is not influenced by Trump supporters arguing that the protests are preemptive, and that he should be given a chance to govern before public uproar unfairly condemns him. After the plethora of inexcusable and disqualifying actions and statements that the president-elect has made, I do not equivocate about the disaster this spells for us as a nation and world. Trump has made campaign promises throughout his run that are wholly against democratic and ethical principles. Then why do I disagree with the many protestors?
Liberal protests are the political tongue-lashing of the liberal elite telling Trump supporters they are wrong, and appears as a defeatist death stroke: The rejection of a liberal ideology in this country.
You might ask, how could the Trump supporters not see how wrong they are from the protests? But I return with a question. How did you feel when the Birther movement protestors marched in response to Obama’s victory? The discontent was palpable, but maybe you, like I, internally smiled with a smug satisfaction that a black man was their president too. Did their anger and disbelief that a black man had risen to the highest office in the land give you pause, or make you question either the legitimacy or excitement at his appointment? If you are like me, you laughed it off. You were content that the law of the land was on his side, and that at least the majority of people in this nation were not so bigoted that they were prohibited from selecting an immensely qualified candidate regardless of his racial background.
Unfortunately the tables have turned this election cycle, and the public scorn manifesting in riots is greeted by the alt-right in much the way liberals greeted protests of Obama: sad that the other side cannot appreciate your “enlightened” vantage, but happy they are bound by the elected choice.
The rise of the euphemistically coined alt-right movement of neo-Nazi nativists is not a product of Trump’s election bid and subsequent win. It is quite the other way around: Trump’s successful bid is a product of the underlying discontent and hate from the “silent majority” that have found a voice in a demagogue.
Trump was not elected despite his views and blatant disregard for the truth. He was elected for these very reasons. The electorate in this nation is not synonymous with the prevailing culture. There is a large group of U.S. voters on the political right who feel disenfranchised and ignored by the political establishment and the media. They feel their views are shut down and dismissed through political condescension and social elitism from liberals. An overzealous movement of political correctness has shunted their ability to comfortably speak freely and express their worldview.
Many of the political left view this as a triumph: Racism is becoming less socially acceptable as liberal circles and media gain more control. Hooray, but the superficial victory does not scratch the surface and reinforces the staunch opposition in the hearts and minds of the alt-right. Maybe your Confederate grandfather from the Deep South learned not to use derogatory words in liberal company. What does that accomplish if the views are still held, and will be used the next time he steps in a voting booth? Shaming racist remarks builds resentment, but there is no shame in the voting booth because no one is watching, no one is listening. In the voting booth—the ultimate bastion of freedom—bigotry is not accompanied by a political tongue-lashing.
To those who are profoundly disappointed, know that an angry protest is futile to effect change, and buys little more catharsis than screaming in the streets. If you want change, engage people with disparate views. Do not shame those who disagree. Condescension convinces no one, and that resentment and unchanged view will certainly make its debut the next time they wander into a voting booth.