My daily travels brought me by my proud alma mater last week. As I crept along the narrow college streets lulled into complacency by a boring history podcast, a tiny car swerved in front of me, barely missing my left fender.
Usually, when a driver pulls this type of move, I call him a wide variety of colorful terms.
This time, however, I immediately knew he was a thoughtful, upstanding activist. He showcased his profound civic engagement in the form of a bumper sticker: HE’S NOT MY PRESIDENT.
Thank you, citizen. Swerve on.
We’ve all seen similar messages over the past year, plastered on cars, T-shirts and social media bios. #RESIST. FAKE PRESIDENT. STILL WITH HER. Through these slogans, Trump’s detractors denounce Black November and attempt to convince passers-by (and most likely themselves) that 2016 never happened.
I understand the frustration of disappointed voters; I’ve been one for the past two and a quarter terms. But it’s time we had a talk. As we approach the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, I have a simple message.
Say it with me now: Donald Trump is president.
“But the popular vote!” Donald Trump is president.
“What about his tweets?” Donald Trump is president.
“Putin gerrymandered the Aleutian Islands!” Donald Trump is president.
If you voted for Hillary Clinton, I understand you aren’t thrilled about this fact. Heck, I voted for the stoner who didn’t know what “a leppo” was; I wouldn’t have been thrilled about either outcome.
But none of that changes the fact that Trump is my president. And he’s your president, too.
Beyond political sloganeering, much of the political class has been locked in this same alternate dimension. Early on, they insisted that Americans should resist the outcome of the election. Within a few months, they told us not to “normalize” Trump.
Psychiatrists have diagnosed him from afar and columnists have suggested fanciful constitutional remedies to oust him. Ever since Michael Wolff released his semi-fictional tell-all, the denialists insist that Trump is “unfit” to be president and must — somehow, anyhow — be removed.
Everyone knows that Trump is a different sort of president. His morals are loose, his style confrontational, and his verbiage aggressively undiplomatic. In fact, that’s the reason many voters ended up choosing him.
Nevertheless, he is a natural-born citizen, is well over 35 years old and won the electoral vote over his rivals. Voters knew all about Trump’s attitude and style, as well as the allegations and controversies surrounding him. But guess what: They chose him over Hillary Clinton, at least by the state-by-state formula that the Constitution requires.
The voters normalized President Trump. The voters declared him fit to serve. And resisting the results of their vote — whether it’s Trump, Obama or Martin van Buren — is offensive to American tradition and the rule of law.
Democrats and more than a few moderate Republicans have wasted the past year fighting the last battle. If they want to return to political success, they need to accept the reality of 2016 and plan instead for 2018 and 2020.
Instead of fretting about the past, the GOP needs to figure out why voters rejected their conventional message and nominated the unorthodox Trump over 16 other primary candidates. Democrats need to figure out why voters rejected their boiler plate and exiled Hillary Clinton to a long wander in the Chappaqua woods.
The driver who cut me off in traffic wants to convince the world that HE’S NOT MY PRESIDENT. Well, actually, Swervy, he is.