I’m not happy that Trump has been elected to be the President of the United States. I voted against him, and I spoke out repeatedly in opposition of him. I’ve written about how I will be a radical activist in opposition of the social and cultural values that he represents. I have shared the story of my friend Osama: his reaction to Trump’s election and how he plans to respond. I will not go gentle into that good night.
But Donald Trump is–or rather will be, once January rolls around–my president. I mean that in more than a “technical” sense, too. I mean that I whole-heartedly accept him as my president. Moreover: I think you should as well. You need to, for the good of the country.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve seen close friends of mine angrily sharing “Not My President!” op eds and tweeting with the #NotMyPresident hashtag. I do understand why this is such an emotional issue for many people. I’m not terrified yet, but I understand why some people are. I’m not dismissing or delegitimizing anyone’s feelings. I just believe that saying “not my president” is not quite the best way to respond.
I’ve been asking myself why. Why do I feel so strongly that Trump should be “my president”? At first, I thought it was about mere consistency. After all, for the last eight years I heard many conservatives claim that Obama was “not their president”. I found it annoying and ignorant, and mocked them by saying, “Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, he’s your president whether you like it or not.” Merely for the sake of not being a hypocrite, I think it behooves me to not fall into the same trap they did.
Deep down, though, that’s not the reason. Consistency is nice, but there is a much stronger reason that I think all Americans need to accept Donald Trump as our President. That reason is accountability.
Think about it this way: Your instinctive, emotional desire to say “not my president” comes from some of the associations you have with the phrase “my president”: you think the word “my” in that context similar to the way you might say “my role model” or “my guide”.
But we have another sense of “my” in the English language as well: My employee. My assistant. My servant. My dog that needs to be trained. My spoiled child who needs to be punished.
When I say: “Trump is my president” those are the analogous sentences that are echoing in my brain.
And they should be yours as well.
Consider the following poll results, comparing the views of the American people to the plans that Trump has said he wants to put in place:
Your reaction to this shouldn’t be fear, it should be grim and stern determination. This “president” is yours: he belongs to you. He is your bitch, you servant (literally, the term is “public servant”), and it is his duty to carry out the will of the people. Think of him like a pet that you need to train… but he’s made it clear he’s a bad dog.
He’s a very bad dog.
So you need to make him know what the phrase “you are MY president” really means. It is not a title of respect or of power: not intrinsically, anyway. The office of the President is an office that serves the People of the United States. When the President does it well, then he gets respect and power. And perhaps a tasty treat. But when he doesn’t do it well, it’s our responsibility to spank him on the nose (metaphorically!!) and let him know that he’s wrong and will be punished.
He’s yours. He belongs to you.
And if he’s not your president… then whose is he? Then he’s a stray dog. You are giving up responsibility for keeping him on the leash. That will not end well.
Grab the leash. It’s your president.
We can make him sit, stay, and beg… but we need to take the leash to do it.