The Road to Unity may sound like a rip-roaring, buddy road trip movie, but it is not. The Road to Unity is less a comic frolic starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and more a bizarre continuation of the ‘Hangover’ movie series. Unity is a destination many in our country desire, but seldom realize.
On January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump was sworn into office, the “Women’s March” was held in downtown Portsmouth. Although it was dubbed as the ‘Women’s March,’ the significance of the date, the signage, and the rhetoric made it clear that the gathering was really nothing more than a “Trump Is Not My President” march. Many of the same people who attended this rally are now calling for the unity they resisted over the past four years.
Just prior to President Trump’s inauguration, Rep. John Lewis announced that he would not be attending the swearing-in of Donald Trump, a person he regarded as an illegitimate president (“I don’t see Trump as a legitimate President” – Meet the Press – 01/14/2017). Lewis was joined by over 60 other House Democrats in boycotting Trump’s swearing-in. Many of these same congressional representatives have expressed concern that President Trump may not attend Biden’s inauguration.
Just a month later on February 21, 2017, thousands of people gathered around the country and hundreds more gathered locally to celebrate the first annual “Not My President’s Day.”
“Not My President’s Day’ rallies were repeated in one form or another every year during Trump’s tenure. The rallies included many of the same signs seen at the “Women’s March.” Signs such as “Not Our President,” “Impeach Trump,” and many more featuring expletives not fit for publication. Yet, many of these attendees are now outraged that numerous people believe Biden will not be a legitimate president.
A casual search of the press accounts of these events will find mostly articles of praise or justification for each of these incidents. One reporter described the march in Portsmouth, NH with glowing approval, stating “Many carried clever signs and hundreds wore pink pointy-eared “pussyhats.” I attended the event, and the reporter is “technically” not wrong, but there were also many more nasty and vulgar signs that may have served to unite the marchers, but did little to try and unify a nation.
In May of 2017, a Harvard-Harris poll suggested that 68 percent of voters believed that Democrats did not accept that Trump won the 2016 election fairly and that he was the legitimate President of the United States. A recent Monmouth poll stated that “more Americans happy about a Trump loss than a Biden win.” These are poll results indicative of division, not unity.
Prominent Democrats such as Hillary Clinton (“he’s an illegitimate president” 60 Minutes – Sept. 2019) and President Jimmy Carter believed that not only was Trump’s presidency illegitimate, but in Carter’s case, he also claimed that Trump had lost the 2016 election.
NY Times opinion writer Paul Krugman recently took fire for claiming in one of his articles that “And no, Democrats never said Donald Trump was illegitimate.” Except of course Lewis, 60+ members of Congress, a former secretary of state, a former president, thousands of people marching the streets, and millions more too numerous to fit in this column. Yet here we find ourselves today, with those millions of people who “resisted” Trump now demanding unity.
However, the seeds of dissent were planted well before Trump won the election and took the oath of office. As far back as April 2016 Politico did a story that “Impeachment is already on the lips of pundits, newspaper editorials, constitutional scholars, and even a few members of Congress.” Trump wasn’t even the nominee, nor was he favored to win the presidential election (at that point). In fact, many of these same pundits believed that he would lose in a landslide.
Vanity Fair ran a story in December 2016 titled “Democrats are paving the way to impeach Donald Trump.” The article outlined the efforts of US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Ben Cardin, and Jeff Merkley to create legislation that could be used as grounds to impeach Trump. Days after Trump was inaugurated, both the “The Independent” and “The Washington Post” reported on efforts already underway to impeach Trump. Are these not the actions of individuals trying to overturn the will of the people, a charge currently being leveled against Trump? I know, “but Jeff, it was different then.”
There is a big difference between Mitch McConnell saying almost two years into President Obama’s administration, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” and what we have witnessed these past four years. McConnell was making an obvious political statement that is part of the lexicon of every political party out of power. Are we to believe that the Democrats did not have the same thing on their minds in 1984, 1988, 1992, 2004, 2020? It is the role of the opposing party to make every elected official, including the president, a one-termer.
But how you go about making a member of the opposition a “one-term president” matters.
In fact, when some suggested impeaching Obama (including the former darling of the political Left, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich), the Republican leadership at the time squashed all efforts (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus).
What we witnessed these last four years was beyond basic politics. We have witnessed “the politics of destruction” on steroids. And I am not talking just about the Democrat tactics used against Trump. Far too many in the Democratic Party are actively and openly at war with over 70 million Americans. Granted, there are some calling for unity, “for the good of the country.” But where were those calls in 2017, or 2020 as rioters and looters burned our cities and destroyed businesses?
Upon his swearing in, Joe Biden will be my president. Just as Trump was your president, and before him Obama, and before him Bush, and so on. I doubt there will be many policies that I will agree with, but I will address those concerns with my articles and radio show. And to be clear, you will never see me carrying a sign that reads “Not Our President.” It is sad that any American would ever carry such a sign.
I guess many of us will just have to face the reality that this past presidential election is the perfect allegory for all that has happened in 2020. Chaos, conflict, bewilderment, distrust, exhaustion, and burnout. Hidden somewhere in all this confusion is a moral for the story that is 2020. I am just not sure what it is. Maybe we can find out together.