By Gabriel Pariente
Published: December 7th, 2016
Over the last few weeks, Donald Trump’s Twitter feed has been lighting up like the Rockefeller Christmas tree. This week alone was noteworthy as Trump unleashed a barrage of tweets calling for Americans citizens who burned to American flag to have their citizenship revoked, expressing his concern for those suffering from the wildfires in Tennessee, and as per The Nation, claiming that he’d, “won the electoral college by a landslide and [he] won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
The article also pointed out that he claimed that voter fraud had taken place in California, Virginia, and even North Carolina, and he wondered why the media didn’t speak about that. Trump has even taken aim at journalists who have reported on these comments. Recently, according to MSN, Trump went after CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny claiming, “Pathetic – you have no sufficient evidence that Donald Trump did not suffer from voter fraud, shame! Bad reporter.”
Trump’s words were condemned even by one of his biggest allies, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who, according to the Huffington Post, said that “Presidents shouldn’t randomly tweet without having somebody check it out.”
These impulsive and rash falsehoods have made me and countless others call out Trump’s inability to tell the truth, and have evoked fear that he will take tyrannical actions to attempt to limit basic First Amendment rights like free speech. The President of our country cannot act in such an undignified manner, advocating to overturn our country’s fundamental laws, and increasing the divide in our country with more vitriol and violent rhetoric.
While I do not disagree with Trump saying the burning of the US flag is wrong, the Supreme Court did rule in Texas vs. Johnson (1989) that, “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Donald Trump has no right to take it upon himself to say the Supreme Court’s ruling is invalid. It is unconstitutional. When the government begins telling us what we can or can’t do because they don’t approve of it, then we become a totalitarian state.
The President-Elect must begin to act more like a leader. He cannot be running off the rails hurling insults, threatening our free press, or those who have criticized him. If one examines previous presidents, neither Obama nor Bush threatened to lock up those who burned the flag in protests, nor did either criticize free press. Our country is facing enormous foreign policy challenges, ranging from ISIS to global warming, and Trump is choosing to focus on nonsense instead of doing the job that he has been assigned. Trump’s rhetoric can no longer be about sparking division or spewing out falsehoods. It should be about bringing our country together, especially at this time of great uncertainty
While I did not vote for Donald Trump, he has won this election whether we like it or not. However, if he truly is serious about maintaining the integrity of this office, he must rise to the occasion and change. He must act like an adult and condemn all the violence against marginalized groups being perpetrated by several of his own supporters. The America that once stood for freedom and promise is in a great state of unrest and Donald Trump can choose either to be the man who leads us through it, or the one that digs us further into a hole that is getting harder to escape from. For the sake of our country, I hope he chooses the former.