I haven’t thought about him since I wrote about my recollection in 2014, but the president’s recent “tweet” brought back the memory.
By now, you surely know President Trump’s remark, the one that demanded that Congress members (most of whom were born in the United States) “… go back... [to the]…broken and crime infested places places from which they came.”
It triggered a flashback.
When I was about 10, my family and our friends visited Washington, D.C. I remember seeing all of the obligatory sights: the Smithsonian, White House, Lincoln Memorial. But, the sight I most remember was not part of the tour.
As we walked in front of the Capitol ready to mount its long steps, we saw a solitary, raggedly dressed picket toward whom time had been unkind. He marched back and forth before the steps of Congress with a homemade cardboard sign asking, “Who Represents Me?”
When we saw the protester, we joked among our group. “How pathetic!” one person exclaimed. “How sad,” said another. None of us could understand why a person might choose a lifestyle of monotony, posting a political sermon that no one would hear.
Indeed, in later years, when I heard the Beatles sing “Eleanor Rigby,” I thought about that unkempt picket. He seemed to define “all the lonely people.” And, our response, also true to the lyric, asked in return “Where do they all come from?”
Last week I got the answer. That picket’s question is now asked by the entire nation. “Who represents me?” It is the central question that will decide the next presidential race.
It is more relevant than the economy or the Supreme Court. It is a core question more determinative than the danger of creating a socialist nation. In November 2020, voters will ask “Who represents me?” And they will vote accordingly.
Our nation is not a democracy; it is a representative republic. We may elect people who support our ideas about taxes and immigration. We may even elect people who support our religion. But, most importantly, we elect people who we want to represent us. We want to say proudly that, regardless of politics, that official represents us. Their office is our permission that they may act in our name.
The corollary of that permission carries a warning. It is why, regardless of politics, Republicans lost after Richard Nixon’s resignation. That corollary is a warning that supersedes even a robust economy: “Don’t embarrass me.”
Last week when the president told members of Congress who he thought to be immigrants, “Go back where you came from,” he embarrassed all of us. It was a statement which, if uttered by our child, would be cause for discipline. But, when uttered by our president, it becomes cause to scream, “You represent me. You may not utter such bigotry in my name!”
My personal anger is more nuanced. By his remarks, the president causes me to defend radical and often anti-Semitic Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Talib. He makes these socialists into martyrs and hurts the cause of conservatism.
Worst of all, he makes Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi look like conservatives who will “Make America Respected Again.” And they will do it by bringing back the disastrous but, by contrast, now seemingly comfortable malaise of Barack Obama.
Many of us are invested in ideals like low taxes and the right to keep and bear arms. Democrats threaten those values. Yet, for many who do not value guns or do not earn enough to even pay a 20 percent tax, they are more concerned that each morning will bring them greater embarrassment from a president who thinks that telling immigrants to “go home” is acceptable in polite company.
Forrest Gump reminded us, “Stupid is as stupid does.’ When the president tells native-born residents and legal immigrants with whom he politically disagrees, “Go back from where you came,” he does stupid. Given simple “Gumpian” logic, therefore the president is stupid. And, no matter how successful he might be, voters will not tolerate “stupid” representing them.
I will probably vote for Donald Trump. I know that Democrats will bring disaster. But, I am a minority. Most Americans want to be proud of the person that represents them.
President Trump is not someone of whom Americans can be proud. Regardless of the alternative, most Americans will say, “Forrest Gump cannot represent me.”