Paul Emerich France, Contributor
I get it. Donald Trump is now, in a very literal sense, the President of the United States. But that’s not the point.
That. Is. Not. The. Effing. Point.
And while I appreciate the quips and the matter-of-fact flow charts, alerting me to the notion that he is, in fact, the semi-elected President of our country, these astutely obvious attempts at quieting the discourse do not fundamentally address or challenge the meaning of the phrase “not my president.”
Some 250 years ago, a group of people decided just this: that a man named King George, who was literally and legally the governor of their thirteen colonies, was no longer fit to govern them. Instead of “not my president,” these impassioned patriots, in so many words, proclaimed “not my king,” and demanded the independence that the majority of America reveres today.
We hang our hats on this very idea: that our country was born out of a perceived injustice, and that we, as Americans held (and still hold) the power to decide who is deemed worthy enough to govern us. But even this idea to dissent, to revolt, and to resist, was not a nascent thought at the time. It wasn’t born in America.
In John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, published in 1689, almost 100 years before the American Revolution, he stated “Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.”
This very ideology laid the foundation for Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence:
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The causes of today are neither light nor transient, demanding that radical change occur, even before Donald Trump’s four-year term is up, for he is a symbol of a governmental structure that elicits success from the privileged—those who can pay for their influence and voice—and prohibits the safety of a marginalized minority. He is a manifestation of the pursuit of “invariably the same Object,” that is attempting to reduce the power, safety, happiness, health, and wealth of the majority of our country, already manifested through the literal deletion of climate change, civil rights, and LGBT rights pages off of the White House website and policies that will only widen the gap between rich and poor.
We cannot go an entire four years, succumbing to the government by one Donald J. Trump, simply because he has been bestowed the title of President of the United States.
Instead, we need to remember and remind each other that government is a relationship, one that requires consent by both parties—the governors and the governed. And it is for this reason, that I have every right to proclaim that Donald Trump is not my president, regardless of where his picture is hung or his name is written.
I do not consent. I repeat: I do not consent to being governed by Donald Trump.
And you don’t have to either.