Smith: The Case for Not Working with Trump

Kevin Smith, Opinion Editor

Well, Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States. The inauguration ceremony is today. Efforts to sway the Electoral College to cast their votes unfaithfully failed last month when they granted him more than the 270 votes that he needed to secure the presidency.

That, however, has not stopped Trump’s critics from expressing their dissent. In an acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep criticized Trump for mocking a disabled reporter, Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times journalist who has a condition that affects joint movement.

She also went on to defend immigrants, stating, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

After a political climate of deep tension, and after holding the presidency for eight years, Democrats are being called on to work with the president. However this type of respect was arguably not afforded to President Barack Obama on a large scale, which has shirked some from compromise.

Critics see those unwilling to work with Trump as unreasonable whiners, but I contest the notion that those “Never Trumpers” are completely beyond reason. In fact, their actions align respectively with beliefs about Trump. His enemies range from Hollywood to Washington D.C. The Trump campaign had trouble finding any willing performers for the inauguration, and more than 60 Democratic legislators are boycotting Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

Not only do Democrats balk at Trump’s policy recommendations, but they believe him to be unfit for the presidency because of his temperament, something that has been mentioned several times as a problem for him as president.

Want an example? Look no further than his Twitter wars.

Recently, Trump insulted a civil rights hero, Congressman John Lewis from Georgia, due to his beliefs about Russia’s alleged interference in the election.

“I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It’s going to be hard,” Lewis said. “I don’t see the president-elect as a legitimate president.”

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected,” he continued. “They helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

In response, Trump took to Twitter to say he is “all talk, talk, talk,” and that he should “finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities!”

Lewis has been the complete opposite of just talk his entire life. During the 1965 protests in Selma, Mississippi, he sustained a skull fracture while fighting for the voting rights of African-Americans.  He led desegregation efforts throughout the American South, including sit-ins in segregated dinners, as well as being one of the original Freedom Riders who fought to integrate buses. For fighting against racism, he has spent time in jail.

As a result of this blatant disrespect and disregard for someone who was key for civil rights, a number of democratic lawmakers expressed their disgust and refused to attend the inauguration, prompting  #StandWithJohnLewis to trend across social media.

Second, Trump’s puzzling disregard for the country’s intelligence agencies has raised questions as people learn more about their reports on Russia’s efforts to influence the election in Trump’s favor.

Trump took the reports as a personal attack, and took to Twitter to express his outrage. Instead of acknowledging the national security risks, he proceeded to criticize the intelligence community, citing Syria, Crimea, Ukraine and the “build-up” of Russian nukes.

For these reasons,  many democratic politicians are posed to boycott Trump, despite a tradition of peaceful power transfer and attendance at the inauguration.

The division is real, and exists because of unaddressed problems. It must be healed in real ways that take time. We cannot pretend divisive problems do not exist in our country, and one of the divisive issues is the behavior of the president-elect himself.

Perhaps you believe that Lewis is in the wrong for calling Trump’s presidency illegitimate due to Russian interference. However that does not warrant Trump’s baseless claim of Lewis being someone who is all talk. A civil rights legend’s accomplishments are not simply erased because Trump does not like him. It is ironic for Trump to be angry about the delegitimization of his presidency, considering he spent a large chunk of the last eight years demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate.

Republicans refused to work with a man who has been involved with some of the most respected institutions in the world. These Democrats are refusing to work with a man who has shown little regard for anyone who does not agree with him, and has personally promised to enact policies unpopular among minority groups.

These situations are different. And the “Never Trumpers” do have reason to believe that it is reasonable to not work with Trump.

His policies, temperament and disregard for the intelligence community have caused Trump to make many enemies before his first day in office. Will he erupt on Twitter every time something goes wrong in the Oval Office? We’ll see how he handles it.