Rich Lowry: America is not a safe space
Pity the anti-Trump protesters thronging the streets of American cities.
Apparently, no one ever told them that they live in a geographically, economically and ideologically varied nation, and that about half of its inhabitants might support a Republican candidate for president. They mistook the country for the campus of Oberlin College.
The news that it actually isn’t arrived with the force of a thunderclap on Nov. 8. The shock of Donald Trump’s election has occasioned tears, rending of garments and days of protests showcasing the rank infantilism of the American left.
Prior to the election, liberal commentators obsessed over Trump’s rumblings about not accepting the outcome and worried about his supporters lashing out. Trump shouldn’t have pre-emptively declared the election rigged, but the specter of Republican mayhem was always far-fetched. When was the last time that GOP protesters ran out of control and burned down local business establishments? Tea-party rallies were famous for their orderliness — participants in a massive rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C., even picked up their own trash.
It is left-wing protests that invariably devolve into lawbreaking, and so it was that the same kids who think Donald Trump is too divisive were soon smashing windows and throwing projectiles at police in behalf of their supposedly more open-minded vision of America. (The left’s street protesters act as if there is no social or political problem that can’t be addressed by hurling things at cops.)
The same media that would have denounced pro-Trump protests as a threat to democracy has treated the anti-Trump protests as a natural symptom of a divided country. Erupting in rage at the result of an election went from a grave offense against our system to the latest front in the battle for social justice right around the time that the Upper Midwest was called for Trump.
The level of self-awareness of the protesters isn’t high. Some hold signs reading “This is what democracy looks like.” It is true that the right to peaceful assembly is a key aspect of any liberal democracy (even if some protesters need to work on the “peaceful” part), but as an illustrative exercise in democracy, you can’t beat the national election last Tuesday that has so outraged anti-Trump protesters.
They have now adopted the slogan “Not my president,” a phrase that the day before yesterday the left considered a racist slur when hurled at President Barack Obama.
The post-election mayhem could be written off as the work of an unruly fringe, if it weren’t that the Democratic Party is so beholden to the sensibilities of its cosseted youth, whom it mistakes for the shock troops of the future. A party that considers it forbidden to say “all lives matter” because it will offend the enforcers of political correctness is a party that is going to have trouble appealing to Middle America.
One anti-Trump protester was seen the other day holding a sign reading “Your vote was a hate crime.” It’s hard to imagine a better distillation of the coercive small-mindedness that prevails on college campuses. This attitude ensures a state of perpetual shock and outrage at the lived reality of a continental nation of more than 300 million free men and women.
The anti-Trump protests will in all likelihood continue. They aim to associate the president-elect with chaos and delegitimize him from the outset. But it is fully in Trump’s power, so long as he doesn’t show irritation or anger, to see that they backfire. One petulant tweet aside, he has struck a unifying tone, while it is his adversaries who are unhinged.
Trump’s critics are certain that he is the champion of a blinkered worldview. But the election and its aftermath show that it is the self-styled citizens of the world who need to get out more.