After the election, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both gave incredibly gracious speeches congratulating Mr. Trump on his win and also acknowledging the concomitant sorrow and fear that many–including them–are feeling. They both stressed unity. They urged all Americans to come together and unite behind Trump, because, they said, his success is America’s success.
Following the first of many transition-of-power meetings held between Obama and Trump, Obama again said that he was “encouraged” by President-elect Trump’s interest in tackling the challenges of our nation. He once again stressed coming together regardless of political preferences to work on the important problems of our country.
Obama has not been perfect, but he has been great. I have grown up with him as my president, and in an age where politicians are assumed to be crooked before they are trusted, for me, he belies that notion. He is a champion of important issues. He embodies the American Dream. He represents hope and change in the right direction, and I’m grateful for the work he’s done. I’m proud that he was the first person, two months after my 18th birthday, I was able to vote for as my president. He has fulfilled his duties extraordinarily, and part of me feels that I owe it to him to heed his advice: to hope for Mr. Trump’s success. This does not mean agreeing with him on everything (or hardly anything). It means becoming even more active and fighting when he is wrong, which will be often. It will be tiring, but we must persist. But it also means that on Jan. 20th, I will embrace Donald Trump as my president and act at the local level in hopes of steering his administration from the bottom up.
On the other hand…
What if Obama is wrong? What if the worst fears of a hateful, bigoted, authoritarian Trump presidency come to fruition? What if in two or three or four years, Obama says that he’s sorry for calling for unity and for hoping for Trump’s success. That if in two years he says he wishes for nothing more than to go back to November 10, 2016, and change his remarks following his meeting with Mr. Trump? That he wishes he had told Americans what his gut told him: do not embrace this man. Fight him. Create civil disobedience. Make noise and be heard. What then?
So, Obama, you’ve got me in quite the dilemma. I’ve admired you since I was in seventh grade during your first presidential campaign. I cried with you after school shootings. I voted when you urged: don’t boo; vote. But this time, I’m not sure I can stand with you. I admire your grace, but a person only gets so many second chances, and seventy year-old dogs seldom learn new tricks.