I was shocked to learn the other day that a university colleague of mine had been excluded from a faculty luncheon group due to his support of Donald Trump. Then I learned that in my own extended family, some Christmas dining arrangements had been changed so that Democrats and Republicans need not confront one another.
Sad to say, variations of exclusionary behavior seemed to be uncomfortably common, and we find ourselves in a time in which compromise is difficult. The open forum seems to be closing.
We can only hope that Donald Trump will be mellowed by the responsibility of the office and works with a wider range of views than now appears to be his propensity.
“Is our democracy in danger?” Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt wrote recently in The New York Times. The answer would appear to be yes, especially if Democrats act now the way Republicans did after Barack Obama’s election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared in 2010 that the “top political priority over the next two years should be to deny Obama a second term in office.” Response to that goal – which seemed to place party above nation – was outrage among many Democrats and some Republicans. McConnell clarified, explaining, “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.” As it turned out, McConnell himself failed.
Some Republicans dishonored the new president, thus the office, early in Obama’s tenure. Everything from the infamous “You lie!” to seeking reasons to believe he wasn’t an American. Now they ask that their own president-elect be given a fair chance.
The truth is that we don’t know exactly what he is. He hasn’t governed yet. The last thing any of us should do is to become mesmerized by our own words about the president-elect or by commentators’ opinions of him.
Some people call Trump a fascist or a patriot or a troglodyte, then come to believe their own words. Trump’s loose use of words makes him especially vulnerable on this count.
I did not vote for Mr. Trump. Nevertheless, count me among those who suggest we give him a fair shot at office, but keep a close eye on him. And I would happily dine with family members who voted for him.
Gerald Haslam is the author of “In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S.I. Hayakawa.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.