Respect the Office

Hooray for another political post!

When I tell people that I think Trump is an evil man, that I think he is an unintelligent boor who brags about sexual assault, that his election has been irrevocably tainted by the specter of Russian involvement, that his cabinet picks are a mixture between a horror show and pure comedy, that I cannot bring myself to view him with any level of respect, I frequently get this answer: “I respect the office. I respect the peaceful transition of power.”

No, I don’t think so.

Fundamentally, I don’t believe the title of President deserves any inherent personal respect. I’m not a member of the military, nor part of the Executive Branch. I don’t report to him in any way. I’m a citizen — the President reports to me. At least, that’s the American ideal. Titles, peerage, offices that demand inherent obeisance — these are vestiges of the old world, things long since abandoned. The President does not deserve any more deference, any more respect than any other citizen. That does not mean that it’s suddenly polite to heckle, to demean, to question the President’s country of origin, or engage in any of the other rude behaviors that President Obama has suffered during his eight years. Good citizenship and good government (my Canadian heritage) requires that when we engage in political discussion that we be frank, forthright and ultimately productive.

It’s particularly strange to hear “respect the office” from other Mormons, because we have grand traditions of disregarding titles (particularly with respect to the Presidency). Today, it’s not uncommon to refer to the 12th Article of Faith as some sort of bludgeon that demands compliance with our leaders regardless of their party or platform, but this is not its historical context, nor is it our history. Brigham Young set up an extraterritorial kingdom and openly defied the will of the U.S. government. Helmuth Hübener gave his life fighting against his Nazi government (and the will of his branch president). Captain Moroni, in Alma 60, threatens a coup d’etat against Pahoran. Mormons, I would argue, have a particular history in specifically not giving inherent respect to the office. We give enormous deference to our church leaders because we sustain them and feel the Spirit in their words, but there is nothing inherent to the office of Bishop, Stake President, Seventy, or Apostle. It is the power of God and the goodness of the person that we respect.

And so, no thanks. Trump is not worthy of our respect in any way. I don’t support him and won’t support him. A transition of power to someone like him is cause for mourning, because it appears that the electors of this nation have chosen evil over good. I support those exercising their rights to demonstrate against Trump. I view all those performing for Trump as having tainted themselves and their reputations. In the case of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Piano Guys, the pain is particularly acute. Mormonism is small. Our reputations are linked in the eyes of the public. Now, Mormons have vocally and disproportionately identified their brand with Donald Trump. But I won’t normalize him or respect him until he demonstrates himself as worthy of respect. I don’t respect offices. And neither should you.

Comments

  1. Honestly, I’d consider respecting the office if there were any remote indication that the still-president-elect respected it. I’m fine respecting the office where it’s inhabitant wants to do good, even if he or she disagrees with me on how to accomplish it.

    But not Trump.

  2. Deborah Christensen says:

    Ditto to Sam’s comment. Respect is earned, not a right.

  3. On Wednesday, Elder Holland gave a devotional where he spoke of the accomplishments of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German who actively fought against his Nazi government. Corrupt governments don’t deserve respect. As Holland stated, “[Bonhoeffer] had returned to defend God as he understood God, and thought God needed defending in a war-torn Europe, and he was determined to obey, come what may,”

  4. Sam, that’s just another way of saying that you don’t respect the office. If you did, the holder of the office would be largely irrelevant.

  5. Well said, Steve. Well said.

    What this country needed was a “King Benjamin”, but instead we’ve elected a mixture of King Noah and Amalickiah.

  6. Eh, he’s neither of those people. Noah raised taxes. Amalickiah was a murderer. But we desperately needed someone like Benjamin. Neither party offered anything close.

  7. Steve, that’s close to it. I’d probably say that I’m inclined to give holders of the office the benefit of the doubt; my default position is respect, even where I have fundamental disagreements with the holder’s policy preferences.

    And I think that it is, in fact, important—as a general rule—to be willing to accept and respect those with whom one disagrees.

    But there are exceptions to this presumption of respect, and Trump falls squarely into the category of exception.

  8. I can get behind that. A rebuttable presumption.

  9. I “respect the office” to the extent that I hate to see it defiled by such an unworthy, obscene, incompetent person.Yeah–no thanks.

  10. Really interesting. Can’t say I agree with lumping together the choir and piano guys performing as the same thing. I think of the choir as representing ‘The church’. That is why I am angry. Performing for Trump doesn’t represent me. The piano guys represent themselves. They don’t represent me.

  11. Debs, I don’t think Mormonism is big enough that we can avoid being associated with each other. I agree that the piano guys represent themselves, but others will view them as ‘what Mormons do’. The MoTab definitely represents us.

  12. I understand your point, but please refrain from painting Trump as if he is some kind of “first” in so many undesirable categories. One could make the same arguments against many presidents if the last 50 years. Do

  13. cj, yes. Trump is not the first racist, the first boor, the first adulterer, the first nepotist, etc. to take the office. But he’s the one who’s here now, and so I’m interested in discussing present duties. FWIW, he is almost certainly the least qualified president in generations.

  14. rebeccadalmas says:

    Respect for the office is even more reason to regurgitate Trump.

  15. [Bonhoeffer] was determined to obey, come what may”

    Yes, obey his conscience, which doesn’t seem to match the message of a meeting that otherwise called for participants to “accept unfavorable results graciously.”

  16. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    I concur, Steve. Thanks for the manifesto. Never really understood the presumption to respect the office – any office. This gets tricky, for me, in that we are taught to “respect the office” of Church leaders. When a man(!) is elevated to a particular office (at any level of Church governance), the assumption is that they should be respected simply by virtue of holding that calling. Mormons too easily transfer this attitude to public office, where someone should be respected simply by virtue of holding that office. I can acknowledge the legitimacy of the office, and the authority of the position, without having to respect, agree with, or even like the person in that office/calling. This is why the Tabernacle Choir performance sets such a dangerous standard. It’s about respecting the office, regardless of the person. It explicitly demonstrates that one must not obey his/her conscience, but should defer to the office. Our early Church authorities would be ashamed of us (even the racist ones).

  17. For now, I have no qualms with your pessimism towards Trump but, assuming that you are LDS (please forgive if I’ve assumed incorrectly), I find this comment unsound: “there is nothing inherent to the office of Bishop, Stake President, Seventy, or Apostle. It is the power of God and the goodness of the person that we respect.”

    Moreover, we don’t treat people with respect because they’ve earned it (notice, I didn’t say “trust”). Just imagine if Jesus only respected us when we earned it. We treat people with respect because we are good. If we waited until it was earned, well…we’re all toast.

    I’m not saying that a priesthood calling/position makes a man righteous. It doesn’t. But the moment we feel we can’t respect or sustain a man with priesthood keys because of his weakness and sins, we put at risk our own spirituality. We should respect the office even when the bishop’s actions are disrespectful. When he behaves in a disrespectful way (in which, at times, all do), we should “stand by… [him] faithfully in whatsoever difficult circumstances he may be [and, yes, at times, we should] admonish him in his faults” in a respectful, sustaining way. That may mean a man to man chat or going to the stake president but we must sustain the man–that is if of our own free will and choice, because we have chosen to raise our arm to the square.

    President Joseph F. Smith said it this way:
    “When a man says: ‘I am a Latter-day Saint; I am a member of the Church, in good standing, because I know what the principles of the gospel are, and I know what the principles of government are in the Church,’ for that man to say, ‘I oppose the bishop because I don’t like him’ or “because I haven’t faith in him,’ is proof by that very act that he does not understand the principle of government and submission to divine authority. He therefore becomes obstreperous, unyielding, ungovernable, undesirable, and worthy to be dealt with according to his merits or demerits.” (Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Joseph F. Smith, 210)

    Comparing Government officials to sustained church leaders is apples and oranges.

  18. Thank you Steve — this is so well said and reflects my thoughts and feelings on this matter completely.

  19. peterllc–absolutely. I’m pretty sure Elder Holland and the other prominent speaker at that fireside were in disagreement with each other. They were preaching conflicting messages. I happen to agree with Elder Holland’s message more.

  20. Mike, interesting points and I agree that there are real limits to the comparison between church and secular leaders. Suffice it to say that Joseph F. Smith’s advice is generally sound but, if left unchecked, threatens to lead us to some untenable situations.

    I’d also clarify what you’re talking about when you say “treat others with respect.” I’m not sure that’s the same thing as what I’m talking about. I agree that we have a Christian duty to love all and to treat others as we’d like to be treated. That is not the same type of feeling and behavior, I don’t think, as respect for a president.

  21. After pondering this question I’ve come to the conclusion that I would not attend because Trump, more than most, would interpret it as approval and admiration.

    I think one thing which is different about Trump from offenses of other leaders (for better or worse) is that he seems to have no awareness of his offenses so they are on full display to a public audience.
    “We give enormous deference to our church leaders because we sustain them and feel the Spirit in their words, but there is nothing inherent to the office of Bishop, Stake President, Seventy, or Apostle. It is the power of God and the goodness of the person that we respect.”

    However, we should never, ever pledge to blindly obey, defer to, follow any mortal man where we believe they are committing wrong.

  22. Amen, Lois.

  23. Steve, I am absolutely appalled. And I agree with you 100 percent. I could have accepted a Marco Rubio or a Jeb Bush or a John Kasich or maybe even a Ted Cruz (well, maybe not) in the White House, if the vote had been fair and uninfluenced by the FBI and the Russians. But Trump is unique. He is uniquely unqualified to serve even as dog-catcher in this country. Who would trust him with their pet?

    The fact that the Republican Party—that self-proclaimed bastion of family values and deficit reduction, the Grand Obstructionist Party that refused to even consider a highly qualified and moderate Supreme Court nominee, the political home of Evangelicals and Mormons—chose a presidential nominee (and now president) who is a pathological liar, an admitted adulterer, a confessed sexual predator, an incurable narcissist, a certifiable and dangerously unbalanced egotist, a thin-skinned insult machine, a man full of vacuous promises but no interest in understanding complex issues . . . the fact that the GOP put this man in power is a stain on their party that will never go away. (Did you like my BoM-style “resumptive repetition” there, you Skousen devotees?)

    If this is what we have in the “office,” then the office deserves no respect. My only hope is that his incompetence, combined with ridiculous GOP economic ideas, will finally see enough of the light of day that they can once and for all be revealed as the scam they are. Maybe Trump can finally kill that zombie, supply-side economics. Regardless, it will be fun watching the Republicans try to get 60 Senate votes for their as yet unrevealed health-care replacement plan. They’ve had seven years to come up with this. We’re still waiting. Should be high comedy.

  24. PassTheChips says:

    Franklin, the Republicans won’t need 60. They only need 51 votes to change the rules to a simple majority for legislation. The 2013 Democratic held Senate set this precedent when it changed the 2/3 rule for all judicial nominees (excepting the Supreme Court). I fully expect the Republicans to use this precedent to change the rules again for both Supreme Court nominees and legislation.

  25. Passthechips,

    It is true that Republicans in Congress can unwind critical parts of the ACA through budget reconcilliation with a simple majority (and they have repeatedly voted to do so). These critical parts include subsidies to help moderate-income Americans afford health insurance and funds to expand Medicaid to low-income, uninsured individuals–which ultimately will lead to the demise of the ACA. However, they cannot enact new legislation–such as an ACA alternative without a super majority-60 votes–in the Senate, unless McConnell resorts to the “nuclear option,” changing the rules to require only a simple majority for legislation to pass.

  26. I can’t believe I ever had any respect for this blog. It’s funny how it takes events like this to really expose the naked truth of a thing, put the priorities back in their proper order. My journey with the church sure has been interesting.

    Some fun and very thought provoking discussions around here. But when the rubber meets the road I’m taken aback by how far apart we are. It makes me realize how immature I was to put any kind of trust in the people around here to begin with. Not your fault, it’s mine.

    That’s what happens when the line between dungeons and dragons and the real world gets blurred. I’ve just taken this church stuff way too seriously. In that respect I should thank BCC, for helping me to see the glaring difference between fiction and reality, and to realize that the church, gospel, etc., should always come in a distant second place to the reality in front of our faces.

    Y’all have fun. Happy blogging, waxing poetic about BOM characters for the millionth time or whatever. Peace out.

  27. I sometimes think our ancestors (ie the early church pioneers) would not even recognize the church at all today. Certain concepts, like the ones illustrated in this post, really illustrate that point. The Church was quite radical at its founding; today, we’d be happy to just be progressive.

    As for Trump, time will tell how it all plays out. I’m already seeing some of his GOP-supportive soccer moms distancing themselves from him due to his nominee for Secretary of Education. I think it’s starting to sink in to some of his party that he really is not “one of us.”

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    I wouldn’t put anything past McConnell.

  29. “That’s what happens when the line between dungeons and dragons and the real world gets blurred”

    A bad Tom Hanks movie?

  30. Good luck, Andrew.

  31. Frank Pellett–Mazes and Monsters, nice reference! I still resent the anti-D&D idiots who prevented their kids from playing D&D with me when I was a young’un. (After all, without a D&D group, how could I learn to cast real spells and bewitch my parents! Thanks, Jack Chick!)

    Demanding respect for the office of the president always seems un-American to me, dangerously close to demanding lese majeste laws. We are all equals, after all–the fact that someone is President does not make him more deserving of respect.

  32. I’ll admit it, my Noah & Amalickiah analogy might be a bit thin. . . certainly not perfect, but you can find some parallels if you dig a little bit.
    Noah’s grievous taxation & Amalickiah’s murders aside, I still think that there are elements of each bad guy coming through Trump’s character & persona.

    I was thinking more along the lines of the “golden breastwork” that Noah built, and the yes-men puppets he instated as high priests.

    I was also thinking of how Amalickiah took advantage of the power vacuum that existed during the transition of power from Alma the younger to Helaman, to stir up unrest among the Nephite population. Also how he reached out to his country’s enemies to stir up contention & conflict within his own country in order to grab power while derailing social & religious reforms. And, in general, I think of the influence peddling & vain flattery that Amalickiah used to gain power & undermine the fundamental decency of civil governance come to mind.

    But I’m not married to the analogy or anything. Mostly just trying to sort through my feelings and inner turmoil on the prospect of enduring a really painful four years.

  33. No, I don’t disagree.

  34. the church, gospel, etc., should always come in a distant second place to the reality in front of our faces.

    I just witnessed–the reality in front of our faces, if you will–the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing America the Beautiful for the guy who then hollered: “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First”! If that isn’t placing the church, gospel, etc. in a distant second place, well, just knock me over with a feather.

  35. peterllc–that is an odd statement anyway, Christianity is all about changing the “reality in front of our faces” to a more divinely inspired order. Only by focusing on the Church and the gospel can we do that.

  36. peterllc–I mean, the line you quoted, not any of your statement, which I agree with completely!

  37. Andrew, if you allow others to affect your relationship with God and His Gospel…then you’re right…it is your fault, not ours. But that’s a “line upon line, precept upon precept” discussion for another topic.

    I come here for the entertainment and sometimes gospel discussions. But at the end of the day, it is I who determines the level of my faith.

  38. Hillary Supporter says:

    Too much of the anti-Trump chorus is fear mongering and whining. I don’t like President Trump as a person, but find it largely irrelevant to whether I’m actively engaged in activities that counteract policies of discrimination and cronyism no matter who the president is. Yeah, Trump is a dangerous and petulant person to hand over the keys of our government to, but if the response to him is limited to fear mongering and whining about how he is a stupid jerk and a bully (true statements), we’ll be even worse off. Let’s get to work and build bridges instead of making excuses to cry foul from the sidelines instead of rolling up our sleeves and leading by example. I’m strangely optimistic about our future and have faith in our institutional democracy.

  39. Clark Goble says:

    While I share your feelings of Trump, it’s important to start asking what the alternatives are over time. If you don’t respect the office and don’t respect the transition (and this is hardly new – Nixon had horse poo flung at his car during his inauguration) what happens when that is normalized? That is the very act of yelling about how Trump is ruining important social norms are themselves ruining important social norms. That is that there have to be places where we allow politeness to trump (no pun intended) our political activism. Just because you correctly think someone is horrible, you’re setting up the precedence so the next time with a candidate you like the social norm is to do the same to them.

    Don’t get me wrong, our social norms have been deteriorating for some time. Republicans treated Bill Clinton egregiously despite having some justifiable complaints against his actions. Democrats treated Bush egregiously despite there being some huge valid complaints with how he waged war and decided what to do. Republicans then upped the ante with Obama, who had a relatively low scandal Presidency and seems honestly at least as nice of a person as Bush was. Each cycle through the prior norms are maintained and then broken just a bit more. Now ask yourself what’s going to happen to the person who replaces Trump?

    Social norms where we have times like shifting power that we agree to be polite are important. Trump is going to start doing things you hate very shortly. Waiting until then to attack helps maintain those important social norms, but I’d argue is also extremely important to actually be successful against him. The danger right now is that much of the press and many of those who oppose Trump have the volume up to 10 on everything. That ends up treating everything as equal which makes you seem silly to weak Trump supporters – the very people you need to turn against Trump. You effectively are providing the means for those you need to dismiss your message.

  40. “Titles, peerage, offices that demand inherent obeisance…” Respect is not the same thing as obeisance. Former presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama sat at that inauguration out of respect for the system of government, even though they most certainly did not agree with many views expressed. President Obama shook President Trump’s hand out of respect for the office. Michelle Obama hugged Melania Trump out of respect for her position. We regularly give respect to people because of their office, even when there is intense personal dislike. We yield to emergency vehicles (cops, firemen) on the roadway without asking for credentials. We honor veterans of the military without asking to see individual service records. Even just referring to individuals by proper titles like Officer X or Mr. President are forms of respect. It does not indicate obeisance, nor does it prohibit us from expressing criticism. I don’t like President Trump, and I think he is an embarassment in many ways. That doesn’t mean I’ve completely lost respect for the office.

  41. “We yield to emergency vehicles (cops, firemen) on the roadway without asking for credentials”

    That’s the law.

  42. Not “America First”. God first. Neighbor second. Then, sure, some healthy patriotism is fine. But this is jingoism.

  43. A bit of a different perspective here. I work for the Executive Branch, for the military, so technically Trump is now officially my boss. But the oath of office I took did not mention the President. The oath I took was to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” I can do that regardless of whether the President is a Bush, a Clinton, an Obama, or a Trump. I just hope that each President will also take seriously the oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” that same Constitution. We’ve survived the other guys. We’ll survive Trump.

  44. Thanks the perspective Eric!

  45. Clark Goble says:

    Jingoism is a popular past time at most events like this. Even Obama’s inaugural speech (which honestly was quite excellent – doubly so compared to Trump’s) made use of such tropes. Now Trump’s was much more a populist speech with the typical populist tropes that Obama didn’t make as much use of. But what’s remarkable of course is how many common themes both speeches have. Why? Because both came in on a platform of change and promised people would rise to that change. The big difference is Obama was challenging America to rise to the occasion while Trump was promising what would happen. But effectively they listed their dream of change.

  46. Exactly, right, John.

  47. Question that will be asked for a long time: what happened in the Obama presidency (and in the world) the last eight years that set events into motion to see a dark horse like Trump come out of nowhere and defy the odds?

  48. cj
    answer: Hillary Clinton. That Obama gave Hillary a cabinet position and Hillary ran for office.

    Roger Stone, a close associate of Trump has said Trump determined he would run for president after Obama’s routine at the 2011 White House Correspondence dinner where he poked fun at Trump.

  49. John Mansfield says:

    I love the anti-quasi-royalist sentiments expressed here. One of the great things about frequent changes in administration from one party to another is that each side gets back in touch with its anti-establishment feelings and other virtues of not supporting the current administration. Still, not bothering to show respect for the office is easy when the office is President of the United States, nothing to be compared with not showing deference for the judge presiding your murder trial. (link)

  50. Professor Lockhart says:

    We should respect that office, and even to some degree the person in it, because like it or not our lives are in so many ways in his hands.

    If we don’t encourage respect, and even some degree of sacred reverence for the office it will further be debased and used as a tool for power. Maybe it’s already been there.

    But that’s only because so many won’t respect the office. There are many things that are sacred and we revere them precisely because we endow them with that sacredness by giving them our respect.

    The flag is one of those things. It’s so much bigger than a piece of fabric, or jingoism. Our attitude to it encourages those around us and the next generation to perceive it differently.

    It’s the same with the office of the President. If we don’t hold that office to a high esteem, how can we demand such of the office holder?

  51. I think we need to pin down what is meant by “respect” here. I anticipate obeying the laws/regulations/executive orders/etc. that come out of the new administration. Call that respect if you will, though I see it as respect for the democratic process as laid out in the Constitution (including, unfortunately and hopefully not permanently, the Electoral College) rather than respect for the president himself or his office.

    At the same time I anticipate speaking out against most of what he does. That’s in the Constitution too. If anyone wants to call that a lack of respect, fine.

    Righteous leaders in the Book of Mormon were willing to use force against those who attempted to seize power despite losing elections. But when the righteous lost elections, even to Gadianton robbers, they stepped down. The example of Moroni and Pahoran does suggest there are lines an elected leader can cross (though it turns out Pahoran did not cross them) after which they lose that legitimacy–things like failing to defend the country against an enemy state in order to gain power. I wish that still sounded like the crazy hypothetical that it would have a year ago.

  52. What brought about Trump? Well, you’ve got to remember that a fair number of Americans are just simple farmers. People of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.

  53. Aussie Mormon says:

    “You know… morons.”

    It’s comments like that, that make those “morons” want to vote for someone that is claiming to be different to everyone else.

  54. Cj. I think the seeds for Trump were sown long before Obama, but were nourished during Obama’s campaigns and terms in office. I believe a key source of where we are today is the media–the 24/7 news cycle–but particularly right-winged media especially right-winged talk radio. I listen to right-winged talk radio because I want to be informed as to what my neighbors, my fellow LDS members and family members are hearing. A majority of conservatives listen/watch only Fox and right-winged talk radio, because as conservatives have told us, mainstream media is liberally biased. The problem is one needs to fact check or listen/read/watch a variety of sources so as not to become a tool of propaganda, fearmongering or lies. Within the circle of conservatives I associate with, none of them do this.

    Conservatives are also attacking educational system as being liberally biased.

  55. Regarding President Trump being qualified (e.g. comment at January 20, 2017 at 8:48 am), if by qualified you mean experienced by virtue of previously holding government office, then James Buchanan was one of our most qualified presidents and Trump is unquestionably the least.

    But qualified is not the same as experienced. All our presidents have been fully and hence equally qualified by meeting the standards outlined in the Constitution. (See the comment by CS Eric). President Trump meets each and every qualification outlined in the Constitution for the presidency, including passing the selection process, in his case the very high bar of winning a majority of electoral votes. To forget that qualification is to forget those who voted for him.

  56. I respect offices. They’re endowed with authority and power, and they represent something greater than the man or woman holding them. The office of apostle comes with priesthood keys. The office of president of the US represents the will of the people in a democratic country. I think there are times when it is justified to follow someone because they hold an office rather than because you personally agree with them. For example, I’m sure I would not have followed Brigham Young, had I lived then, if I didn’t believe in his apostleship, if I didn’t believe he and the 12 held the keys. I’m positive I could not have stood the man.

    While I disagree with the post’s premise, I do believe that an office holder can diminish an office, even to the point of rendering it something else that what it was supposed to be. I’m very afraid that Trump will do exactly that. I’m not so concerned about his racism or sexism or overall despicability as I am about his conflicts of interest, his stated intent to violate the constitution, his continual attempts to recreate reality with his words, and his worldview wrt foreign policy that threatens our national security.

    I respect the office of president, but I’m truly afraid Trump won’t leave it with the same meaning it had when he got it.

  57. Respect the Office is a siren song of complacency. In America, each of us is just one of three hundred twenty million. What can one person do? We tell ourselves: I can’t do much, but at least I can Respect the Office. In normal times, there’s not much harm in that, but these are not normal times. In fact, this feels like one of the pivotal moments in American political history that only come once or twice in a lifetime.

    The long arc of American politics has been toward greater inclusiveness in political participation. Over the centuries, we have outlawed slavery, extended voting rights to women, established more legal protection for religious belief and practice, and reduced discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, and sexual orientation. But all of these advances have come only with great sacrifice and against great resistance.

    With the emergence of the Tea Party and the election of Trump, reactionaries have risen. They want to turn back the progress we’ve made, but they know that the arc of history bends against them. They will do everything they can to extend their time. Though Trump is incompetent, many who come to power with him understand precisely what they must do. Their most urgent changes will affect voting rights. They won this election by the very thinnest margin, and they know that they can win again only if they exclude millions of voters. They are already working on it.

    This is exactly the wrong moment for us to Respect the Office. After an election, the average non-political person can usually get on with life and let the political people run things, because there will be another election soon enough. That’s not necessarily the case this time, in this pivotal moment. More of us need to do what we can to resist the collapse of law. We shouldn’t be afraid to speak out, talk to our representatives, foster worthy local leadership, and stay engaged. Be polite, be kind, be persuasive, but don’t Respect the Office.

  58. Thanks Loursat.

  59. Loursat, would you mind if I quoted you on my handout at the local women’s march tomorrow? That’s most sensible thinking for us outsiders.

  60. MDearest, please do. Thank you.

  61. If someone were to rebut my outrage with “I respect the office,” I would reply, “and so do I, which is precisely the point.” To honor an office is to serve others; to take an office is to serve oneself. I suspect few commentators here could be enraged by Trump’s nomination if we did not already respect and want to honor the office–or a high station whose responsibilities are always more than any one person can bear–and intuitively understand that the dignity of that office or position is that it requires more moral character, dignity, and conscience than *any* person can provide. (Thus, to his supporters and history, Obama brought hope not because he brought change but because he tried in ways that many others can recognize as meaningful to people who are not him; to his distractors, everything he did appears somehow self-serving.) It is *because* I think we all implicitly see the need to respect offices that we must also resist and fight vitally for qualified people to try to fill them. Over the long arc of history, democratically accountable offices mostly stretch their inhabitant-politicians to advance the services to their constituents, and of course ideally the highest office of the land exists to serve the most people possible. What else is worthy of more respect than that? If we were not to respect the office, it would be impossible to feel properly outraged that the now sitting President is an apparent empty signifier and vortex of selfishness, a man whose myopic self-obsession may make it very hard for him ever to honor the office or anything outside of himself. It is precisely our respect for the office–and its civic potential–that licenses such healthy outrage. Liberal politics cannot cede the language of respect so easily; robust political conversation requires multiple rich moral registers, now more than ever, and this is one of them.

  62. Yeah, I don’t know, Steve. I have mixed feelings about this. I’ve always considered myself somebody who respects the office, and tried to live up to that by trying not to engage in personal attacks on the president, but focusing on substantive criticism.

    On the other hand it’s pretty rich to hear “respect the office” from those that have disgraced the office by voting such a morally bankrupt man into it. It’s like putting a chimpanzee in the oval office and then shouting “hey, respect the office!” when somebody points out that it’s now flinging its feces around the room.

    To me, respect for the office means civility and decorum, not defeatism, complacency, or calling evil good.

  63. JKC, that’s fine. I think as a functional matter our approaches end up at a similar result.

  64. Racial slurs are absolutely not ok.

  65. I am quoting JKC. It has nothing to do with race, unless his comment did.

  66. “…it appears that the electors of this nation have chosen evil over good”

    Nope. They chose one evil person over another. Americans are pragmatic.

    I suspect Trump will end up being the better choice economically.

  67. “You know… morons.”

    Farmers are morons? Salt of the earth folk in my experience. That’s such a snobbish thing to say. Aweful actually.

  68. Since farmers, whatever their level of intelligence or wisdom, are only about 1% of the population, their support for Trump is unlikely to have been decisive.

  69. Many comments and the OP itself seem knotted over this respect thing. For me, respect for the office–whether president or bishop–is essentially and no more than “duly appointed/called/elected.” It does not mean liking or applauding. It just means that’s really their job. Respect is the opposite of revolt. Not the opposite of revulsion.
    There have been reasonable questions about legitimacy in this election. In my opinion asked and answered.
    The man is president. We hired him. My view is that he should get on with the job. I wouldn’t shake his hand, but nobody asked me and “respect for the office” doesn’t oblige me.

  70. Tired and broke saint says:

    After the Trump administrations first press briefing it seems apparent they’re headed to be the whiniest administration in history.

    Hard to respect that in an 8 year old. Impossible to respect it in a Commander in Chief.

  71. Agreed, tired & broke saint.

  72. In the list of tainted Mormons don’t forget D. Todd Christofferson who prayed at Trump’s Inaugural Prayer Service. I’m all for praying privately that Trump isn’t a total disaster as a president, but it bothers me that our paid clergy feels the need to kiss the ring of this wicked, wicked man.

  73. There’s a time when it’s right to respect and defer and there’s a time when it’s right to oppose and make it known. It’s a matter of degree and wisdom to know which time it is. Surely no one would suggest the German people and Jews should have respected “the office” of Hitler and the other Third Reich holders.

  74. The time to oppose was in early November. The 2nd best time to oppose is today.

  75. PNWReader says:

    Reading the comments brings to mind the rabble the Pharisees gathered to clamor for Jesus’ crucifixion. If all that Trump and Hillary have been accused of and labeled with is true, then there really was little choice between them. Like Andrew, I have enjoyed the doctrinal and cultural discussions, but, also like Andrew, I am taken aback by the abandonment of all the intellectual cranking power heretofore evident when it comes to politics. As Trump would tweet: sad!

  76. I love the comparison you draw between BCC/pharisees, because by implication you’re comparing Donald Trump to Jesus Christ. I could not ask for a more immediate and totally destructive flaw in your comment. Good day.

  77. PNWReader says:

    Steve, you misunderstood. The comparison was BCC as the ignorant rabble the pharisees gathered. And the actual comparison was both Clinton and Trump in the place of accused, though accused by different sets of Pharisees. And good day to you

  78. Oh, terrific. Good stuff all around.

  79. The time for opposition to Steve Bannon and the alt-right is now. And I don’t care if it’s done by pharisees or sadducees or all others.

  80. “If all that Trump and Hillary have been accused of and labeled with is true, then there really was little choice between them.”

    What an absurd hypothetical. We are not obliged to accept every accusation against a candidate. We can think. That’s what voters do. All you had to do was listen to the candidates talk, and you too could have made your judgment about their suitability for office.

    The idiocy that Trump spouted today is the same idiocy that he’s been spouting for years. Millions of people around the world showed us today that they see through Trump. Can’t you?
    Or do you imagine that exercising your “intellectual cranking power” means that you never have to answer hard questions or take a stand, ever floating above the fray? Who do you think you are?

  81. “If all that Trump and Hillary have been accused of and labeled with is true, then there really was little choice between them.”

    You don’t need this hypothetical, because fact checking is not hard! Here is how:

    1 – ask for sources.
    2 – check that the source is valid.
    3 – independently verify with other sources.

    A valid source will reference its claims (especially numbers) and provide authorship. If it quotes “experts” you should be able to independently verify their credentials. After a while, you will get good and sifting out the wheat from the chaff.

  82. The “simple farmers” line is a quote from Blazing Saddles, folks.

  83. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
    For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.”

    However you date the words of this epistle, you are likely to find some very bad kings, authorities, and emperors were covered by this injunction.

    See also the article by Christian and harsh Trump critic Russell Moore:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/01/20/you-should-pray-for-donald-trump-no-matter-how-you-voted/?utm_term=.07eeeed0ac59

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t vote for President Trump.

  84. As The Crow Flies says:

    Normally I’d mourn with those who mourn, but I’m gonna hard pass on this one.

  85. Shannon – in retrospect, a Mormon forum might not have been the best place to drop a Blazing Saddles reference. But I figured it was pretty obvious I was quoting something. Guess not.

    For the record, I intended no offense to farmers. Furthermore, I am willing to concede that not all Trump voters are morons–some of them are just evil.

  86. I got the reference! Surprised at how many people didn’t.

  87. Steve — I expected no less.

    In fairness it is an R-rated movie. But that’s such a famous line, and it seemed so apropos…
    Come to think of it, Blazing Saddles had a few lines that perfectly summed up Obama’s inaugurations as well.

  88. pconnornc says:

    I don’t think you have to go as far as saying “everything” that each candidate was accused of being true… Even taking reasonable assessments of accusations toward both candidates made this election not a “good vs evil”, but a “undesirable vs detestable” – with room for subjectivity on each side.

    I think you layer on top of that a gnawing sense of disenfranchisement or media manipulation by so many, and you get people voting with uncertainty, compromise and leaps of faith (or logic?).

    To criticize the morality and judgement of those who voted for either candidate lacks acknowledgment of the challenges of the election of 2016.

    To continue to moan the election results at this point is water under the bridge. The president will make decisions that validate voter’s suspicions/hope – please save your breath for criticisms or praises for that. I get the sense that it won’t take long ;-)

    As for me, my candidate did not win, but I will sincerely pray for those who did…. while awaiting for the next election cycle!