The phrase “not my president” has become a slogan of the Anti-Trump movement, appearing on signs at every protest, trending on twitter and being used in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Although I don’t approve of his policies, the problem I have with the “not my president slogan” is not that it expresses opposition to President Trump, but that the phrase has a divisive history and offers no realistic solution to the current condition of the US government.
The slogan “not my president” has a history that is not fit to headline the Trump-Resistance Movement. Although the phrase first surfaced during Bush’s administration, it was popularized after he won a second term in the disputed 2004 election. When Obama won in 2008, Republicans recycled the slogan to delegitimize the new administration. Tea party supporters transformed “not my president” into a racist slogan and used it to estrange not only the Democratic and Republican parties but also whites and non-whites in America. For the past eight years the slogan has undermined the rocky foundation of racial equality and inclusion that activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ida B. Wells fought for throughout US history. The condition of the US calls for a change, and a slogan that has made no progress in its 20-year career cannot accomplish that.
Additionally, the slogan offers no solution to the dissatisfaction one may feel with Trump’s administration nor the hateful sentiments that stand behind his campaign. A direct approach of attacking Trump’s views or policies is a more effective way to express one’s opinion. A clear slogan such as “the future is female” for the feminist movement or “refugees are welcome here” are more appropriate to resist the recent executive orders.
Lastly, the slogan interferes with the virtue of compromise that is the important foundation of our government and dismisses the Americans who elected him. Although it can be difficult to understand radical right-wing ideas for some of us in California, the basis of the US government lies in diversity, representation and discussion. It is hypocritical for people to oppose Trump’s exclusion of minorities, women and immigrants even as they exclude rivaling opinions within their community.
The slogan is not addressing the deeply rooted racist and exclusive attitudes in American culture today. Trump is a representative of many people for whom his political and social attitudes resonate, so the pinnacle of change stands not in attacking his administration, but rather promoting ideas that encourage inclusion and equality. The slogan is directed at Trump as an individual, which does not recognize the 62,979,636 people who voted in his favor according to the 2016 Cook Political Report. Today, the Democratic Party must choose to welcome differing opinions in order to welcome discussion, compromise, and change.