Though it is rarely rigorously defined, respect is often treated as though it were a universal value, as though it were always wrong not to respect another person enough to listen to their opinion. But the election has given me a more tempered and qualified understanding of respect.
In his victory speech Trump stated, “Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it’s time for us to come together as one united people. It's time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”
The Pinocchio who recently insisted “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” now says “its time to come together.” Not so fast.
Donald Trump waged a scorched earth policy against so-called “political correctness.” So far as he and his epigones are concerned, the country would be better off if we stopped mincing words, worrying about verbal micro-aggressions, and said what we feel. That is a sword that cuts two ways.
So Trumpsters should not take offense at my lack of political correctness when I say that the former birther-in-chief who is soon to become commander–in-chief has uttered so many lies, so many unapologetically racist and misogynist statements that while I retain my respect for the office of President, I can’t respect the man who is soon to hold the office.
Much worse yet, I don’t know how to relate to people who carried placards for a candidate who disrespected Mexicans, mocked a disabled reporter, scorned a war hero, called for ban on Muslims, bragged about grabbing #$%^& etc. etc. Some supporters, shrug that they did not back Trump for his racist and misogynist views but because he was “going to drain the swamp” and be an agent of change, as though it were all right to get behind a lying racist/sexist so long as you found his economic policies appealing. Since we don’t have to fret about political correctness anymore, let me remind people that it is a fact that Mussolini got the trains running in Italy! That was nice, but some of them ending up going to Auschwitz.
Those of us who stand behind the lectern have recently being lectured, most lately by the venerable Nicholas Kristoff, that we progressives need to get out of the echo chamber and pay more heed to conservative views. It is true that most academics lean left and that we should be careful avoid being dismissive of the long and august tradition of conservatism. But a key value of conservatism is being respectful of traditional norms and values. For instance, it seems to me that someone who tried long and hard to de-legitimize a standing president was betraying conservative values. Likewise for a Prez-elect who shrugging off norms, refuses to put his sprawling business holdings into a blind trust, who refuses to release his tax returns, or who made monumental diplomatic moves before his inauguration without consulting POTUS, or who falsely stated that millions of people voted illegally in the election that he won. And this is leaving out the litany of disrespectful statements he made during the nomination and election season. That is not the conservatism that I need to remind myself to give a fair hearing.