President Donald Trump had an opportunity Tuesday to become â€śThe Great Uniterâ€ť by reducing the left-right hostility thatâ€™s damaging the social fabric of our country.
Speaking at a rally in Ohio, Trump explained he was cutting through â€śfake newsâ€ť and taking his message directly to the people. Nothing wrong with that.
Then, only moments into the speech, a disruption briefly became the central focus.
A man held up a sign that said â€śTrump/Pence must go.â€ť Trump supporters grabbed the sign. One man hit the protester over the head with a pro-Trump sign.
As security dragged the man away, Trump returned to the lectern. He smiled and asked: â€śWhere the hell did he come from?â€ť
After a long pause, Trump said he had created a difficult week for the media by forcing journalists to travel throughout the country and spend time with tens of thousands of proud Americans who believe in defending â€śour values, our culture, our borders, our civilization and our great American way of life.â€ť
The president talked about the Second Amendment, the Constitution, the flag and called â€śfamily and faithâ€ť our foundation.
â€śIn America, we donâ€™t worship government. We worship God,â€ť he said.
A second scuffle broke out when another man held a small anti-Trump sign. Trump stood silently away from the lectern. After security removed the protester, the president said: â€śBoy, heâ€™s a young one. Heâ€™s going back home to mommy. Oh, is he in trouble. Heâ€™s in trouble. Heâ€™s in trouble. And Iâ€™ll bet his mommy voted for us.â€ť
Trumpâ€™s unapologetic emphasis on â€śmaking America great againâ€ť got him elected in an electoral landslide, to the dismay of academics, journalists and Hollywood types who think bold American pride is passĂ©.
We arenâ€™t surprised by the resonance of his message. The masses in the middle are angry at being mocked and marginalized by coastal liberals who wouldnâ€™t deign to visit â€śThe Flyover.â€ť
We are surprised it took a New York billionaire to finally tap Middle American angst.
Trump could back up the talk about our Constitution, the flag and American values by defending those who peacefully express differences of opinion. Doing so would not harm his relationship with his base.
Neither protester dragged from the rally did anything wrong. Each held a small sign that merely countered the sentiments of thousands of other small signs. Each peacefully exercised his First Amendment right.
Trump could do a lot to unify the country with just a few words. He could acknowledge the protesters, and their right to peaceable opposition. He could say â€śI see your sign, and I will try to try to earn your respect.â€ť He could tell the crowd to â€śleave peaceful protesters alone, they have the right to their opinions. Iâ€™m their president, too, and I defend their right to challenge us.â€ť
Americans did not build a great country by demonizing one another for contrary views. We became great by respecting one another, and realizing an American on the left is not so different from an American on the right.
When The Gazetteâ€™s editorial board met with Trump last summer, we encountered a man who appeared to genuinely love his country. He could convey it to the masses by publicly defending the next person who confronts him with an anti-Trump message. He should defend all Americans and their right to peacefully support or oppose his agenda.
We need a great uniter, like never before.