Don’t get it confused. The media is going to put intense focus on the anti-Trump protests playing out in metropolitan areas around the country over the coming weeks, and it will be easy for Americans to get the mistaken impression that these protesters represent the 60 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton. It’s simply not the case. As divided as we may be as a nation, we’re not that divided.
A new Gallup survey shows that despite the protests, the overwhelming majority of Americans accept the results of the election, even if they wish those results had been different. In total, 84% of Americans accept Donald Trump as the legitimate president-elect of the United States; only 15% dispute Trump’s victory. Even among Clinton supporters, a full 76% accept the results. That’s more or less in line with the mood of the country after George W. Bush’s controversial victory.
That’s important to remember, because there are forces in the country who want to turn Donald Trump into something unprecedented, frightening, and existentially dangerous to democracy. They aren’t saying he will be bad for Obama’s legacy; they’re saying he will be American Hitler. This kind of talk is driving skittish Americans to be understandably afraid of the next president, and it needs to end.
Trump and his supporters can fend off this talk by reminding everyone of the outreach he did to the African-American community, knowing full well that he would not win their support. Remind them of his comments about LGBT citizens, his repeated assurances to Hispanic citizens, and his beautiful acceptance speech, in which he promised to be the president of all Americans. Remind them that he was guided to victory by the first female campaign chief to win a presidential election. Remind them that there is a huge gulf between the Trump the media created and the real guy.
Of course, that can only work if the media presents these protests in a way they did NOT present the Black Lives Matter marches. If they dedicate wall-to-wall coverage to these protesters, it will make it appear that the majority of Americans are opposing the new president. Let’s hope they can learn from the mistake they JUST made.