In the lead-up to the presidential election, pundits and politicians often accused Donald Trump of inciting irrational fear. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said he was “fanning the flames of fear and hatred.” Hillary Clinton accused him of “stoking fear, disgracing our democracy, and insulting one group of Americans after another.” USA Today even called Trump the “Fear Mongerer in Chief.”
Post-election scaremongering persists, but now it appears to have a new home among our venerable media outlets:
New York Times: “Beyond Lying: Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Reality”
New York Magazine: “The Future of LGBT Rights Under President Trump Is Not Pretty”
It seems improbable on the face of it that Trump, who is accused of being a serial philanderer, would push to restrict birth control. Trump has also demonstrated that he may be the most pro-LGBTQ presidential candidate in GOP history. But none of these facts seem to matter to anxious Clinton voters.
Given the sustained momentum of the nationwide protests, it appears unlikely calm will prevail, no matter how unreasonable the fears. So how does a well-meaning constitutional conservative empathize with panicking leftist friends without encouraging (or overtly questioning) the doomsday scenarios that they seem so keen on promoting? Here are ten ways we may be able to find a common ground and shared purpose.
Affirm disillusioned Clinton voters’ desire to limit executive overreach through the robust separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution. We may all take solace in the knowledge that the Obama era of unchecked executive orders is over.
2. Natural Rights
Fearful leftists often lament fundamental rights will be in peril during Trump’s presidency. Encourage them to think about how they can ground inalienable rights in natural or divine law rather than the capricious whims of political leaders.
3. Freedom of Speech
It is often hard to agree with the reasons Clinton supporters are afraid of Trump. But at least we can all be glad that we still live in a country where divergent opinions aren’t just tolerated, but advanced through First Amendment protections for freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion. Happily, Trump’s election appears to be a solid rebuke of the PC culture that has only permitted one perspective into the public discourse.
Let dejected leftists know that even though their candidate didn’t win the presidency, they can take consolation in the fact that various state and local governments are full of progressives. Local and state leaders can still make a huge impact on the way we live, as long as we work together to make sure that the federal government doesn’t overreach.
5. Rule of Law
There is a lot of trepidation over whether Trump will stymie the work of groups like Black Lives Matter. History has shown that strengthening the rule of law reduces excesses and abuses by government officials, including those in law enforcement.
As the fears mount of an authoritarian Trump regime, it can be helpful to remind people that a strong civil society—such as the church, civic organizations, and social groups—can reduce our dependence on the government, thereby mitigating its power and involvement in our daily lives.
Rumors continue to swirl about Russia meddling in the American election, and many alarmed progressives believe the scariest part of a Trump administration will be his foreign policy. It may be helpful to remind them that Trump’s election appears, at the very least, to have actually achieved the “diplomatic reset” with Russia that Clinton tried to launch many years ago.
8. Gun Rights
As Daniel Payne pointed out, if our leftist friends don’t feel safe, at least they can still buy a gun for personal protection.
Many Democrats are terrified about the prospect of a Republican president and majority Republican Congress. Fortunately, we can hope Trump will make good on his pledge to discontinue the sort of one-party rule that resulted in passing Obamacare.
10. Sexual Restraint
It is easy to sympathize with feminists who are angry about Trump’s misogynistic comments. Before our leaders boasted about being genital-grabbing libertines, we were a chivalrous society where traditional courtship rituals were encouraged and marriage was sacred. Perhaps Trump’s tawdriness will inspire people to reestablish these values by reversing the pernicious consequences of the sexual revolution.
It’s probably naïve to think that Trump’s victory could unify Clinton supporters and constitutional conservatives to work toward strengthening the sort of safeguards that ensure no one elected official can force his will on non-aligned minority groups. Will Trump press his advantage and avail himself of the sort of unconstitutional legal maneuvers that became a hallmark of the Obama administration? Or will he exhibit the sort of restraint necessary to preserve our constitutional republic?
Trump isn’t exactly a paragon of restraint. But I suppose anything’s possible in the year that the Cubs won the World Series, the Cavs won the NBA title, and a brash businessman beat the most methodical and well-funded political machine in American history.