One of the biggest struggles I’ve grappled with since Donald Trump’s election and inauguration has been this: respecting the office of the presidency.
When President Obama was in office, it always angered me to hear people question his citizenship and speak of him in a derogatory, racist manner, especially since I believe President Obama truly cared for the country and was a superb leader.
Having different social and political views from many of my family and neighbors, I endured a plethora of hate-filled rhetoric about one of the men I most admire.
In fact, never had I seen a president – in my own years on Earth or in history books – treated with such disgust and disrespect. I made a promise to myself that, despite my disagreements with policy or personality, I would always respect the office of the presidency, because, to me, the title and office of POTUS represents everything remarkable and decent about our country.
With all sincerity I ask, how does one respect the office of the presidency when the man occupying the office clearly does not?
How does one respect a man who brags about sexual assault, refers to neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” has little knowledge on domestic and foreign policy, blames victims and praises oppressors, and makes tone-deaf comments like his latest, where he refers to primarily African nations as “shit-hole countries?”
How does one respect a man who – every time he opens his mouth – metaphorically defecates on the collective values past generations fought so hard to defend and uphold?
Irrespective of our policy differences (of which there are many), I do not hold the same values as the man occupying the Oval Office does.
Our current president does not appreciate the myriad ethnicities, religious traditions, and world views that have created the vibrant melting pot we’ve come to know and appreciate as America.
He does not support gender equality in the workforce, and he does not believe that immigrants – and their entrepreneurial spirit – built this great country, despite being a descendant of European immigrants himself.
He lacks empathy, self-control, and vision.
So, again, tell me how I am supposed to respect the office this man has desecrated with his poor etiquette, negative judgments, and intolerable behavior?
It may sound trite, but I genuinely struggle with this. Every time I am tempted to correct a family member or coworker or retweet a criticism of the latest presidential faux pas, I experience a moral quandary that leads to anxiety and feelings (albeit fleeting) of hopelessness.
I want so badly to be proud of my country and my leaders, and yet, at my core, I cannot respect the repugnancy and moral bankruptcy that he demonstrates with such ease.
I just can’t. And I won’t.
Today the United States honors the legacy and memory of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. – a compassionate, humble, and courageous Civil Rights leader worthy of our deepest respect.
King once said that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” and that “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
I think today, during a time where the POTUS can utter racial epithets and negatively stereotype entire nations, those words ring true.
Hence why I will speak out against hate and lift up the voices of rationality and love.
This weekend I will march among thousands of other women (as well as men and children) at the Women’s March, and I hope that, by surrounding myself with so many different, yet like-minded, individuals from around the country, I will grow even more invigorated to speak loudly “at times of challenge and controversy” and not let silence overtake what truly matters.
I believe that is what respecting the office of the president – even if the current occupant demonstrates the opposite – is truly about.
Catherine is part of the Contributing Writer Network. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.
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