I am as disappointed and angry, and frankly shaken to my core, about what happened yesterday as anyone out there. That Trump is now the president-elect does not change the fact that he is uniquely unqualified to serve in the office by dint of his temperament, intellectual vapidity, lack of any relevant experience, terrible judgement, willingness to display and countenance all manner of bigoted and misogynistic behavior, and most crucially his clear admiration for authoritarian norms and prerogatives. I feel a mortifying sense of embarrassment that he is now the face of our country and what we offer up as a representative example of America. I am repulsed by his dark vision of our current state of affairs, and terrified for what will happen when those who have placed their sincere hopes in his ability to deliver all sorts of undeliverable promises realize that he cannot do so. Well aware of how overwrought this will sound, when I stood in front of Kira’s door this morning for thirty seconds before going in because I wasn’t sure what to tell her and because I wanted to put off for just one more minute shattering her sweet innocence about the world, it transported me back to how I felt on the terrible afternoon that my mom died and I had to call my brother and my aunts and uncles to let them know. I stand second to none in my conviction that four years from now we will be picking up the wreckage of geopolitical upheaval unlike anything seen since WWII.
But despite all of this, there is one – and only one – appropriate response. The United States of America only works if we all accept that we belong to a single political community and that the legitimacy of our political system is above question. I never had any patience for those who treated President Bush as illegitimate because he lost the popular vote; we have an electoral system that gives the presidency to the winner in the Electoral College, and unless you want to throw out the entirety of the Constitution, you don’t get to pick and choose which parts you want to abide by and which parts you want to ignore. Similarly, I had even less patience for those who treated and still treat President Obama as illegitimate based on debunked and puerile conspiracy theories about his citizenship, allegiances, or his alleged un-Americanness. There is nothing more disgusting to me than Americans who derogatorily refer to their elected chief executive as “your president” because they didn’t vote for him or don’t support him. If you are an American citizen, the person who takes the oath of office on January 20 is our president whether you like him or not. Them’s the facts, and there is literally nothing less American or more unpatriotic than behaving otherwise. Those of you who could not grasp this very simple principle during the past eight years should hang your heads in shame and should have the decency and self-awareness not to lecture anyone about it now that you have a president you like, and those who will not be able to grasp this very simple principle for the next four years will forfeit the right to complain about how President Obama was treated during the past eight.
With all that said, I am going to do anything and everything I can to oppose what I believe will be a disastrous Trump presidency, but I will do it based on disagreements with his policies and his behavior and not based on any questions about his legitimacy. I suspect that many of you will do the same, and I welcome any and all thoughts about productive ways to limit the policy fallout that is coming. Spare me your pablum about coming together. We do not have to unify as a country, heal the political divisions, just accept the inevitable, or treat this as anything but a dark day, and I hope that we don’t. The consequences of this election cannot possibly be overstated, particularly if – like me – you care first and foremost about foreign policy and America’s place in the world. Stop making idle threats about making aliyah or moving to Canada, and instead fight tooth and nail to ensure that the United States remains the greatest country on earth. Be the loyal opposition. Be an American by conviction and not by convenience.
But we absolutely must be unwaveringly unified as a polity, which means that on January 20, Donald Trump becomes OUR president. It means sincerely wishing and praying for his success as a president and as the leader of our country, even and especially if you think, as I do, that he will be a historically, disastrously, abysmal failure. Lead by example in fearing and preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. Be an American first.