This could get ugly. Days of Rage redux.
On consecutive evening after Donald Trump’s Electoral College triumph, demonstrators hit the streets chanting, “Not my president! Not my president!”
The Associated Press and USA Today reported thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Milwaukee, Knoxville, Richmond, Austin, Louisville, San Francisco, Des Moines, Bowling Green, Omaha, and both Portlands, in Oregon and Maine.
New York police erected barriers in front of Trump Tower to keep the rabble at bay.
In Boston, the dissidents carried signs saying, “Impeach Trump” and “Abolish the Electoral College.”
In Oakland, the one-time haunt of the Black Panthers, angry anti-Trump protesters broke shop windows, vandalized cars and threw rocks and bottles at police.
In Washington, D.C, two separate anti-Trump protests converged in front of the new Trump International Hotel, with demonstrators chanting, “No racist USA. No Trump. No KKK.”
School kids in Northern California staged anti-Trump walkouts. The Los Angeles Times reported that disaffected youth marched on City Hall, where they burned a giant papier mâché Trump head, then took their frustrations out on a Trump piñata. Another group of protesters blocked the 101 Freeway.
By Friday evening, the demonstrations spread to other cities, including Orlando, Raleigh, Tempe, Iowa City, Madison, Wis. and Wichita. Several hundred not-my-president protesters marched through downtown Miami and onto the freeway ramps, blocking traffic on the MacArthur Causeway and later I-95.
If Donald Trump’s Election Day victory was a manifestation of so much white-guy anger in rural America and the industrial Rust Belt, then the days after the election illustrated a furious reaction from the other side of the great American divide.
It doesn’t help that Trump lost the popular vote but will be awarded the presidency through the vagaries of the Electoral College, an anti-democratic (small “d”) anachronism originally contrived to inflate the political clout of the slave states. It’s a system that now gives more weight to individual votes cast in Wyoming and Mississippi and Montana and Kansas than New York or California or Illinois.
So while liberal urban America cast more votes in this election, conservative rural America decided who’ll be the next president. Talk about a rigged system.
Young millennials, 18 to 29 years old, 55 percent of whom voted for Clinton, compared to 37 percent for Trump, expressed their rowdy displeasure. But they weren’t upset because the election went to a conservative Republican. If John McCain or Mitt Romney had won their respective elections, or if the winning Republican in 2016 had been Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush or John Kasich, angry demonstrators would not be congregating in American cities.
But in the course of this long, strange, awful presidential campaign, Donald Trump managed to violate one cultural norm after another. His constituents apparently loved his sneering rejection of political correctness. They shrugged off offensive characterizations of women, Muslims, Mexicans, blacks, immigrants. They weren’t bothered when our newly anointed groper-in-chief fat-shamed a former Miss Universe or mocked a disabled reporter. Or that he picked a vice presidential candidate who opposes “any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.” Mike Pence has also suggested that federal dollars fund so-called gay conversion therapy and “institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Trump insulted environmentalists with his promise to roll back EPA regulations and his contention that human-caused global warming was a “hoax” perpetuated by the Chinese. Even the animal-rights crowd has been put off by Trump’s big-game-hunting sons.
He carried the day, at least in the states that mattered, but he offended so many segments of American society along the way, I fear he has reprised the Days of Rage, circa 1969.
Trump, this brash, cartoonish, bigger-than-life celebrity, has made himself into the very personification of “the enemy” for activists pushing immigration rights, gun control, clean air, clean water, clean energy. Young feminists, Mexican Americans, Muslim Americans, Dreamers, the LBGT community, Occupy Wall Streeters, Black Lives Matter protesters, environmentalists, labor activists suddenly have the common, much loathed reference point they never had during the Obama administration. Not to mention the 22 million-plus Obamacare users worried that Trump is about to jettison their medical insurance. His inauguration ceremony, a public event on the Washington Mall, could become a riotous mess. And unless Trump can manage to moderate his intolerant instincts, we’re in for four years of hell.
Angry millennials have a considerable advantage over the hippies, yippies, Weathermen and student protesters who made life miserable for President Nixon back in the day. The kids today have social media and instant mass communications. They can summon a flash mob to a rallying point in a matter of moments. When President Trump comes to town, they’ll own the streets.
Meanwhile, the one thing we’ve learned about Trump over these last few months is that he cannot abide even the most petty slight without punching back. You can almost smell the tear gas.
Of course, these damn millennials could have avoided all this trauma if they had gotten off their butts on Election Day. Their turnout, as usual, was paltry. Bloomberg reported that only 19 percent of millennials bothered to vote. Of those, 8 percent cast ultimately empty votes for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. If they had shown up in numbers anywhere near to their baby boomer elders, Clinton would have won in a walk.
Instead, we’re in for turmoil and tumult along our city streets. This could get very ugly.