I know it’s a tough day for you, because it’s a tough day for me, too.
It’s hard to digest, but it’s here. President Trump is the 45th President of the United States, joining a list that includes Washington, Lincoln, and Kennedy… and also Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.
If any of us are being honest, we don’t know what the next four years will bring. But we do know what today brings: anxiety, concern, and for some of us, rage.
I won’t tell you not to be anxious. I won’t advise you that your concern is misplaced. But just for today, just until something happens that is worthy of it, can we let go of the rage?
As Donald Trump raises his hand and takes the Oath of Office, he will not be committing an act worthy of your rage. He may not be an ordinary man, but in that moment, he will be doing something absolutely, undeniably ordinary, something that has been done more than 70 times in the history of our great nation. He will be doing what every President — the legendary ones and the garbage ones — have done before him.
Outrage invites outrage. And our country could use a lot less outrage right now.
Like the negative sides of two magnets, we’ve pushed each other further and further away, and our anger feeds itself and grows bigger and bigger the more we push into our bubbles. (And I realize that magnets’ positive sides also repel each other, but it didn’t help the analogy, so let me run with it.)
I am not telling you to hold your protests indefinitely. I’m asking you to save your protests for things that matter, for things that are worthy of outrage — for things that are not ordinary.
Your tweets mocking Melania?
Your Facebook post about the Inaugural concert featuring a band that can be loosely compared to Nickelback?
Your constant insistence that he isn’t your President?
These things may make you feel better, if only for a moment.
But the damage they do to what really matters — to repairing the divide in our country so that we are prepared to stand up, together, if true outrages present themselves in this administration — is lasting.
When we protest everything, our protests become as ordinary as a new President taking his oath. They lose their punch.
There will be policies worthy of your protest. There will be statements worthy of your outrage. And there will be a time and a place to stand up.
But today? This is ordinary. This is an American tradition. Don’t waste your voice on today. Don’t push the reluctant Trump voters to put you on mute so they miss your legitimate and specific complaints when they come.
I guess I could have just copied and pasted The Boy Who Cried Wolf and saved a lot of time. Aesop is right — while all of us are shouting at fences, the rest of the people we need on our side will have tuned us out if the wolves — or worse — come.
You probably are muttering under your breath that I’m an apologist right now. But know this: if (when) the time comes, I will stand up with you, along with millions and millions of Americans.
Just not today.
Today, if I don’t like watching the candidate I didn’t support celebrate, I will turn off the TV. Today, when I feel that lump in my throat, I will read about American history and find comfort in the genius of our Constitution.
Today, I will save my voice.