President Obama Defended People Protesting Donald Trump
President Obama just defended freedom of speech in a powerful way.
Many are frightened by his rhetoric and policy proposals.
There's also discontentment over the fact Trump won the election in spite of losing the popular vote by a significant margin.
The protests have been predominately peaceful.
On Thursday, the president defied calls from Donald Trump's team to condemn the protests and call on people to unify behind the president-elect, Politico reports.
During a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president stated,
I've been the subject of protests during the course of my eight years. And I suspect that there's not a president in our history that hasn't been subject to these protests. So, I would not advise people who feel strongly or who are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised during the course of the campaign, I wouldn't advise them to be silent.
I can say across Europe that many principles that have been taken for granted here around free speech and around civil liberties and an independent judiciary and fighting corruption — those are principles that, you know, not perfectly but generally we have tried to apply not just in our own country but also with respect to our foreign policy.
Protesting has been an important aspect of US politics from its earliest days.
In some respects, the Declaration of Independence was an act of protest against the most powerful empire in the world at the time.
Many of the most important movements in US history, such as the Women's Suffrage Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, were driven by peaceful protests.
Not to mention, the First Amendment to the US Constitution upholds the right to freedom of speech and to peacefully assemble.
But Trump and his team do not seem to recognize any of this.
Trump complained about the protests on Twitter, calling them "unfair."
This is somewhat hypocritical, given Trump encouraged people to protest against President Obama after he was reelected in 2012.
After his initial tweet criticizing the protestors, Trump changed his tune in a subsequent tweet.
This was an abrupt shift from his initial condemnation, and Trump's team still continued to be critical of the protests in the days that followed.
Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump's former campaign manager, recently stated,
It's time really for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to say to these protesters, 'This man is our president.'
President Obama has been very cordial with Trump, in spite of a historically contentious relationship.
Trump perpetuated a conspiracy theory the president wasn't born in the US and at one point referred to him as the "founder of ISIS."
One of the biggest responsibilities of the president is to uphold traditions.
The peaceful transfer of power between presidents is a tradition in America -- as is protesting.
President Obama recognizes that and the fact it's possible to support both traditions at the same time.
Trump and his team should consider following the president's lead.
Dealing with criticism is one of the central aspects of being president. If Trump can't learn to handle that, he's going to have a very difficult time trying to lead this country.