Sunday, November 20, 2016
Constitutional Lessons from the 1st Meeting Between Trump and Obama
There are various petitions going around Facebook seeking to have electors in the electoral college reverse the outcome of Trump's win, including because Hillary won the popular vote. For me, there is a legitimate discussion about changing the process in the future, but not post-facto changing the rules for this election. If roles were reversed, supporters of Hillary would view that as profoundly unfair. In short, Trump won more electoral votes than did Hillary, and the outcome of the election has been determined..
Although it is true that the country is divided with respect to Trump, it is equally true - and a lesson of this election - that groups of people are not predictable and monolithic based on their demographics. It is also worth remembering that we are one country bound by common history, law and economic and foreign policy interests. As Nelson Mandela is sometimes credited with saying, “holding on to grudges is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Whether you like Obama or not, I believe there is much to be learned from the civics lesson that he delivered to Donald Trump, the country and the world about how America handles the peaceful transition of power when the two first met on November 10. Consider that Trump had attacked Obama personally, claimed for years in a bigoted way that Obama's national origin was suspect and he might be disqualified from being President, and then reversed that position without explanation or apology. He further attacked in very personal ways many of Obama's policies, which Trump promises to dismantle. Given the brutal tone of this election, most of humanity would not have handled that initial transition meeting the way Obama did. That’s the point – because Obama understands our laws, institutions and history, he put country before personal interests and insults, and demonstrated why he has the character to be President.
No matter your politics or ideology, most Americans can or should respect the way Obama conducted himself to preserve and protect our Constitution, and indeed, Trump agreed, finding himself uncharacteristically awed by his first meeting with the President.