By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – The Bible says it best, in Galatians:
“For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
The election of Republican Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States has yielded little but fury. Demonstrators upset about this elevation to the world’s most powerful office have taken to the streets in cities across America to protest. Some of Trump’s more unsavory supporters have seen his triumph as license to come out of the shadows with racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic statements and graffiti.
Trump’s surrogates and apologists have responded the tumult by calling for calm.
They say the supporters of defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should accept the election’s results and move on. They say this even though Republicans in general and their candidate in particular resolutely and notoriously refused to accept not just Barack Obama’s two elections to the presidency but also his legitimacy as an American.
These surrogates also say it is Clinton’s and Obama’s responsibility “to set the tone” for the country.
They’re wrong about that.
Hillary Clinton may have claimed more popular votes than Trump did, but she didn’t win the election. Barack Obama wasn’t even on the ballot.
Neither one of them was elected to be the next leader of the free world.
Donald Trump was.
It’s his job to set the tone.
It’s his responsibility to lead now.
In the days leading up to and after the election, many of Trump’s spokespeople lamented how “offensive” Clinton’s comment was labeling half of the Republican’s supporters as being part of a “basket of deplorables.” They said it was wrong to demean other Americans in this way.
It’s a fair criticism.
It’s worth noting, though, that Clinton never said she wanted to arrest those people. She never said she wanted to ban them from the country. She never said she wanted to build a wall to keep them out. And she never said she wanted to punch them in the face for showing up at her rallies.
But President-elect Trump did.
Trump has said that he wants to bring our profoundly fractured country together.
If he means it, he could start by accepting the responsibility of his office.
He could set an example.
He could reassure the more than 50 percent of the American electorate that didn’t vote for him that he will be their president, too.
He could say that some of the things he said in the heat of the campaign were wrong. He could apologize for his more offensive comments.
Most important, he could reassure everyone in this country that no one who has not violated the law or threatened this nation, regardless of where they were born or how they pray, need fear either prosecution or persecution.
In other words, he could lead.
Thus far, though, it seems he has chosen to go in a different direction. Instead of signaling that he has heard the fears and concerns of his fellow citizens, Trump tweeted:
“Now professional protestors, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”
Perhaps, but his response misses the point.
The moment Donald Trump was elected president, this story stopped being about him.
Now, it’s about the country.
It’s about us as a nation.
He, as president-elect, can understand and accept that.
Or he can continue to demonize people who disagree with him. He can continue to blame others for not offering the leadership that it is his responsibility to provide. He can continue to divide the nation rather than unite it.
That approach has carried him to the White House.
But it won’t make him a successful president.
Anger will only produce more anger. Division will only produce more division. Fury and intolerance will only be met with more fury and intolerance.
The Bible speaks to that, too – in Hosea:
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.