Some, at first reading the headline here, will immediately conclude that this is an article defending President Trump. While the two may be inextricably linked, it is more about the Office than the personality. One should, for this purpose, separate the Office of the President from the holder.
Why should this be important? First, understand that our government is based upon, as you may well know, three separate but equal branches: Legislative, Judicial and the Executive. Our founders developed this system of governance to provide checks and balances, among other reasons. At the center of the Executive Branch are all the agencies overseen by the Office of the President. While some may argue that one branch is more important (or more powerful) than the other, the role of the Office of the President is clearly the most outward definition of our identity; i.e. who we are and what we stand for as a nation. For this reason alone, and notwithstanding one’s view of the person holding the office, we should give the Presidency its due respect and deference.
Yes, we may find the person holding the office disagreeable or we may just disagree with the policies of that person, but we should not denigrate the office itself and that branch of government. Certainly, our country has free speech as one of its basic tenets, and it is always reasonable to voice assent or dissent. But what have we seen since the last presidential election? There has been outright hostility to not only the holder but also to office itself. No, this is not about the resistance against the current president or the bashing that he may get in the media but to the open scorn and disrespect given to the presidency.
What effect do you think the following has on yourself, other citizens, other leaders and other nations for that matter: The Snoop Dogg video showing President Trump in clown dress being shot or the Kathy Griffin photo shoot of the president’s bloody severed head? Can we defend this sort as one’s right to free speech? Can we put such assaults in the same class as “burning the flag” or “urinating on a cross” and disguise it as one of our fundamental rights?
While we talk about divisiveness and the need to come together, our actions contradict us. Not only to blatant outrageous acts noted above, but in the everyday discourse of individuals we see a very high level of animosity. Whatever happened to civility? “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt” is often cited as an ointment to hostility, but a better tenet to live by is to act not just in words but in deeds and in truth.
Want to disagree? Do it respectfully. And one of the best ways to express our opinion is to exercise one of our most fundamental rights: to vote. But this is a subject for another time. For now, shouldn’t we act with some measure of prudence to each other and, perhaps more importantly, to the Office of the President?