My Fellow Americans,
Today is January 20, 2017, and for many of us it is a difficult day, while for many of us it is a wonderful day.
Those of you who know me well know that I am a liberal. I am way to the left of just about every issue except Israel, about which I am just left of center. I also represent a 501c(3) organization, and as such I have stayed away from public political commentary. I am not perfect and probably slipped from time to time, but I avoided posting my presidential opinions on Facebook and other social media. Often these two values are in conflict—my liberal desires to shout from the rooftops when someone does something I find politically offensive verses my professional desires to keep my job and keep my congregation intact—but today they are working together, and I would like to express some of my views on some of what I have seen and heard regarding our new president.
- It is my personal goal to behave the way I would have expected Trump supporters to behave had Clinton won the election. I would have stood on my soap box and demanded that they respect the will of the people. As such, I will respect the will of the people. Say what you will about the electoral college and how the system failed. My personal view is that a system that gives a different result from the popular vote four times in our nation’s history is not too shabby, but until you work to change it, it just sounds like complaining or making excuses. I fully support that a Constitutional Committee should be assembled to review and redraft the US Constitution to match the 21st Century. One of the greatest things about our founding fathers is that they knew they were not perfect, and wrote into the Constitution methods of adapting our nation’s most sacred document so we, the people could maintain our democracy.
- Whether you voted for him or not, whether you boycotted the inauguration or not, whether you are angry of thrilled, if you are a US citizen, Donald J. Trump is your president. I am offended by my #notmypresident friends. If you deny his presidency, you deny your own ability to reach out and work with him, or even your own ability to keep him in check. Even if you didn’t vote for him, the POTUS works for the citizens of the United States. All of them. He is your president. Now make him work for you.
- Unless you are a White House Staffer, a politician, a political pundit, or Alec Baldwin, whoever sits in the Oval Office should not affect your daily life. I know that tomorrow morning I will wake up, lead Torah study, take my children to birthday parties and playdates, and make dinner for my family. Neither President Obama nor President Trump nor any other leader could change that.
- Supporters of President Obama, please pay attention to him. In early November, 2008, his political rivals made promises to do whatever they could to take him down. He spent the last 8 years dealing with similar attitudes from congress, the press, and other non-supporters. He faced it all with class, grace, and style. Instead of getting angry like so many people did when policies were enacted that they did not like, try behaving like President Obama. Reach out to talk about disagreements with logic and candor. Listen and pay attention to who is speaking, and to paraphrase what he said, “Don’t boo, act!” Go ahead an march in Washington or in whatever major city is close to you. Express yourself and let our leaders see you in action. But don’t stop there. Write to congress, call your representatives’ offices, and become political activists. Protests call attention to issues, but political action makes changes happen.
- If the progress we have made over the past 250 years is put at risk, I will be there speaking to my leaders to help keep us moving forward. I didn’t need to “Make America Great Again” because I believe it is already great. I believe it has potential to be better, and I acknowledge that what is better for me night not be better in everyone’s mind, and that is why we choose to live in this great nation, whose system of democracy allows its citizens to determine its course. If you don’t like the way congress is behaving (a much bigger issue than whoever our president is), you can vote to fire them. They work for us—make them earn it. Make sure they know in advance if you want to maintain the legal rights of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers; if you believe a woman should have control over her own body; if you want to separate science and belief; if you believe the constitution needs a once-over; if you want a livable wage for all those who work hard and no more increases for those who vote their own salaries; if you want affordable healthcare for everyone who needs it and health care options for those who can afford it; if you want anything to change or anything to stay the same, it is up to you to let your representatives know. Let them know early and often. Email, call, write, and help others keep those who work for us informed about how we want them to do their job.
- Check out http://www.valuesandvoices.com/the-letters/. They are doing it right.
Finally, I want to extend a word of congratulations to President Trump. It is not easy becoming or being POTUS, and I hope you learn as much from your predecessor as I have.