There will come a time during Donald Trump’s presidency, I expect, when people of good conscience may need to take to the streets en masse in protest.
This is not that time.
Better now to stand down and stay alert and follow the sound guidance of Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton to respect our democratic traditions and give Trump a chance to lead.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, even before Tuesday’s election results were known, because you had to take into account the possibility Trump would win and consider what happens next.
And the thought that kept recurring to me is that this could be the moment in history when many of us have to stand up and step outside our comfort zones to put ourselves on the line for what we believe.
I’m talking mass demonstrations. Civil disobedience. Peaceful, non-violent protests in the tradition of Martin Luther King or Gandhi or the anti-Vietnam War movement.
For those demonstrations to accomplish anything, though, there will need to be a clear provocation from Trump and a focused purpose for protesting that extends beyond the mere fact the nation lawfully elected somebody as President who many of us find objectionable.
I don’t know what issue will necessitate such a demonstration, although my best guess right now is that it will involve immigration, where Trump seems likely to try to follow through on some of his campaign rhetoric.
Mass deportations would certainly be a trigger for me, as would any attempted infringement on LGBT rights.
Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about this, as I have been many times in this unusual 2016 election cycle.
None of us really know how Trump intends to govern, assuming he knows. I appreciate that he’s toned it down since winning the election. But let’s just say I’m still pessimistic.
With no disrespect intended toward those who participated in peaceful protests in Chicago this past week, I’m not sure those protests served any positive purpose other than to help those involved ease some of their own anxiety.
Marching through the streets of downtown to disrupt the lives of people who supported the same candidate as you doesn’t make much sense to me. I wonder how many of the protesters realize that, even in the home precinct of Trump Tower, 68 percent of voters supported Clinton.
Worse were the protests in other cities that have gotten out of hand, such as the destructive behavior in Portland that police called a riot. These incidents are likely to trigger a backlash that will make it more difficult to win the hearts and minds of the American people if and when the time comes.
We’re been though this before during Vietnam. When the left goes too far, the people in the middle get uncomfortable, grow fearful and lean right. Then, it takes a while to reel them back.
If the time comes to demonstrate in the streets, those on the left are going to need to attract to their cause the people like me who are closer to the center if they really want to be effective, not just disruptive.
Then, there are also many people of good conscience who voted for Trump. They do not necessarily support all of his positions. If it becomes necessary to block him on some issues, their help will be needed, too.
I realize I’m whistling into the wind. If the folks who are organizing the current protests won’t listen to the wise advice of Obama and Clinton, they’re certainly not going to pay attention to me.
I’d be satisfied if all I accomplish is to sow the seed in somebody’s mind that the time to take that extra step might be near.Tweets by @MarkBrownCST