Donald Trump is president now. He is America’s president, and in his inaugural address, he rightly reminded us that the people are the rulers of this nation. Now we’re in this together.
We all have aspirations for our families, and for America. We live our lives according to principles that matter deeply to us. We had to choose between two candidates, neither of which was ever perfect, so we made our choices and we hoped for the best. For many of us, one principle stood out more urgently than others in the weeks leading up to the election. Many of us voted based on that one issue, despite having reservations relating to our other principles and other issues.
As rulers of this nation, we have several responsibilities. The first is to pay attention — to all of the issues. It is our duty to listen, read and stay informed. As rulers, we don’t have the option of claiming that what’s happening to our country is above our pay grade.
Our second responsibility is to be honest about what we see, to look beyond the narrow issues that made us cast our votes. Let’s take the blinders off and compare what we’re getting to what we were promised. Maybe we thought repealing Obamacare was a good idea, but we realize that doing away with Medicare is not. Maybe a cabinet of Wall Street executives is OK, but a cabinet full of inexperienced billionaires is problematic. Maybe we see talking tough in trade negotiations as necessary, but we think tweeting threats about missiles is irresponsible. Maybe, for us, building a wall is terrific, but adding trillions of dollars to the national debt is unacceptable.
The lines will be different for each of us, and we will have to make ourselves vulnerable to share them, but we must draw them honestly.
Our third responsibility as citizens — as rulers of this nation — is to not fall into line behind anything our president may say or do. As Theodore Roosevelt put it, “To announce there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
My message to Trump supporters is this: The folks who disagree with you about the last presidential election understand that you are a diverse lot. We understand that Trump’s agenda follows a hodgepodge of positions — not all of which are tolerable to you. We understand that the election is over.
And now it’s time to get to work. When Trump crosses your line, will you rise up and make your voice heard? It is, in fact, your patriotic duty to rise.
We are a nation ruled by the people, not by one individual, and as President Trump himself said, “Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.”
This is my hope as well: That our courage and goodness and love will guide us. There is no need to assemble submissively on opposing teams, because there is no real line dividing us. Our lines are personal, idiosyncratic and real, and with them we can create a communal, collective map of courage and goodness and love, capable of guiding us through the next four years.
Christina Craigo, a native of Nitro, is a writer in Boulder, Colorado.