Politics & Policy

There Is No ‘Trump’s America’ or ‘Obama’s America’

Protesters burn a piñata of Donald Trump in Los Angeles, Novemerb 9, 2016. (Reuters photo: Mario Anzuoni)
There is only the United States of America.

This is an old and tired game, but let’s play it anyway. It’s the Friday after the presidential election, and Hillary Clinton just squeaked out an Electoral College win after losing the popular vote. Across the country, furious Trump supporters are blocking roads, smashing windows, setting fires, and even attacking police. Shock videos show young white men delivering terrifying beatings to black men, denouncing Clinton as they go. Petitions demanding that electors defy the will of their states’ voters gain millions of signatures. Secession talk roils Texas.

Can you imagine the coverage? This would be deemed proof positive of the dangers of Trumpism. The riots would be called acts of “insurrection.” Some would be calling them the first shots of a second civil war. Pundits across the land would bask in self-congratulation. “We told you these people were dangerous. We always knew they were deplorable.”

Each of these things is happening right now, but in reverse. In Oakland and Portland, anti-Trump protesters rioted, starting fires, smashing cars, and attacking police. In Chicago, young black men beat and robbed a 49-year-old white Trump supporter, cursing him and the president-elect. A Change.org petition asking that electors vote for Hillary Clinton on December 19 has gained almost 2.4 million signatures. And what about secession? Yep, talk of #Calexit and “Wexit” (California, Oregon, and Washington) is bubbling up online.

All of this is premised on a very particular, dystopian vision of a place CNN calls “Trump’s America.” Even as smoke rises from Democratic cities, liberals are forwarding around proof of the horror that awaits in a Trump administration. Small knots of Klansmen have gathered here and there. Vandals have tagged some public spaces with bigoted graffiti. In a middle school, a widely shared video shows kids chanting “build the wall.”

The Klan is despicable, the alt-right is evil, and bigoted vandalism is disturbing and wrong, but if these acts are evidence of “Trump’s America,” then what are the riots and beatings? Is that Obama’s America? Is it Hillary Clinton’s America?

No. There’s no such thing as “Trump’s America” or “Obama’s America” or “Clinton’s America.” There is just “America,” and right now all too many of its citizens are roiled by a senseless hysteria, convinced that their communities most represent the American ideal, and the failure of that ideal at the polls presages doom.

As I wrote when it appeared that Hillary Clinton would be elected, that is silly. America is built from the ground up to be resilient and resistant to authoritarianism. The checks on President Trump’s powers will be immense. He couldn’t transform Portland or Oakland into a dystopian nightmare if he wanted to. Indeed, if a GOP House and Senate can pass reforms that reinvigorate federalism, Portland and Oakland will find themselves with more autonomy, not less.

If liberals wants to know about the thing they so derisively call ‘Trump’s America,’ then they should get out more.

If liberals wants to know about the thing they so derisively call “Trump’s America,” then they should get out more. I’ve got some places to suggest. How about Lee County, Ala, (60 percent Trump), where I was born? Auburn is a beautiful little town, and its university is one of the most welcoming places in the South. As a bonus, it is home to the state’s most virtuous and worthy football team.

Or you could go to Scott County, Ky. (62 percent Trump), where I was raised. It’s actually a pretty prosperous place. A huge Toyota plant has brought free trade to my hometown in the best way possible, and my old classmates are some of the best people I know.

Or you could visit the place where I’m raising my children, Maury County, Tenn. (68 percent Trump). My precinct (72 percent Trump) has the kind of community where families don’t lock their doors and neighbors let their young kids run out of the house after school without a moment’s concern for their safety or whereabouts. We love and trust one another here.

Or, if you don’t have time to travel, you could get to know Trump supporters like Marcus Luttrell from home. Watch this. Seriously, watch it:

There is nothing politically correct about that man. He’s tough and harsh and the bravest man you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t share your politics, but he put his life on the line for your liberty. It’s not worth rioting to stop his elected president and my neighbors’ elected legislators from having their own turn at the helm of a constitutionally and politically limited state. It’s not worth weeping and screaming and wailing. As I’ve long argued, the greatest threat to our republic isn’t any given policy or president but rather the improper and completely disproportionate hatred and fury generated by and through otherwise conventional and normal political debate. It’s the disproportionate and unrealistic delegation to politicians of the individual responsibility for your own economic, moral, and spiritual well-being. Politics as religious faith is far more dangerous than politics alone.

#related#For that very reason, it is also incumbent on victorious Trump supporters not to gloat in the misery of their opponents. Yes, many people on the left seem to have lost their minds, but there are truly intolerable things happening in Trump’s name on the right, too. People with their own record of violent threats and intimidating acts are trying to ride his coattails, and his GOP has to demonstrate by word and deed that those people aren’t part of “Trump’s America” and will receive no aid or comfort from the party. A movement can still sow fear from the fringes if good people fail to speak up.

I’m weary over the battle to define “real” America. America is the only real America. I argued against both Trump and Clinton because I love this country. I’m praying that Trump will be an extraordinarily successful president because I love this country. I’ll offer whatever help I can (if anyone wants it) because I love this country. The overwhelming majority of Trump voters don’t hate anyone in the blue states. Indeed, the majority of Trump voters believe that his policies will improve the lives of all Americans. They may not ever get your support, but they do deserve your respect.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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