You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump

This week will see another visit to Montana by Donald Trump, AKA “The Divider in Chief.” If the recent past is any predictor, Montanans will likely be assailed by the most unpopular president in recent times not to work together for a mutually beneficial future by addressing the significant challenges facing us, but to hate each other for our differences of opinion on matters of public policy. But before he launches into another one of his vitriolic performances, Trump might want to read the Constitution of the United States and remember that public assembly, the right to challenge the government, and freedom of speech are guaranteed in this nation, despite his efforts to ride roughshod over those basic rights of all Americans.

Of course asking this particular president to read the Constitution is probably a useless quest. He doesn’t read, to start with, and given his propensity to embrace authoritarian rulers around the globe, we can’t really expect him to understand that those who don’t wear MAGA hats and vehemently disagree with what he’s doing to our country and planet have every bit as much right to their opinions and beliefs as does he.

But again, this is not a man who gives much respect to anyone or anything — especially a 250-year-old document like the Constitution — and who will turn on his former associates like a rattlesnake if they don’t meet his expectations of loyalty to him and not the nation’s Constitution to which they swore fealty.

Nor, as the growing record shows, does Trump have any respect for the truth. A recent column by the Washington Post’s highly respected Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, opened with this astounding sentence: “President Trump wrote an opinion article for USA Today on Oct. 10 regarding proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans — known as Medicare-for-All — in which almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.” Yep, you read that right, “almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or falsehood.”

Putting Trump’s pathological prevarications in perspective, just think how hard it would be to try and negotiate or deal with someone who never tells the truth. If one can’t believe anything they say, where would one start in discussing any issue, let alone those with the complexity of taking care of our citizens’ health care or dealing with global climate change that’s threatening the very existence of humanity on the planet?

When confronted with a recent chilling report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the severity of global warming and the limited time frame in which to address it, Trump said, “I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it.” Apparently someone forgot to tell our “very stable genius” that it’s not a picture book and he’d have to actually read the report. He could “draw” some conclusions about the effects of global warming by visiting Glacier National Park’s vanishing glaciers — but that might interfere with his false claim that global warming was a “Chinese hoax.”

Certainly those who wish to believe Trump’s “misleading statements and falsehoods” have every right to do. But so do those who choose to believe science and reality. Trying to turn Montanans against each other rather than honestly discussing the public policy issues is what we can expect and will get from Trump. But if one wants respect, one must give respect — and that includes respecting the rights of those who will undoubtedly be protesting against his controversial and destructive policies.


George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.