Trump Supporters, Antifa, Left Wing, Radicals, Racists, Democrats, Republicans. You don't have to look very hard to find these and other labels used as a shorthand way to describe complex ideas, positions and beliefs.
As we observe the oneyear anniversary of the Jan. 6 2021 violent demonstration at the White House, we hear the cry of "Trump Supporter" when assigning responsibility for the violent and destructive events on that day. What is a Trump supporter? First of all, Donald Trump was president for four years between 2016 and 2020. During that time, the president did things which were not universally popular as is the case with any leader. In a democracy, it is incumbent upon the leader to at least try to explain his rationale and demonstrate in a convincing way how his actions were motivated by a desire to improve a situation. Often the decision represents a choice among a laundry list of unpleasant options. Does the electorate support or dispute the president as an individual or as the holder of public office?" In an authoritarian administration, the leader demands support for HIM-regardless of his policies or job performance. In a democracy, the electorate is free and even expected to decide for themselves the wisdom or lack of it of specific actions.
A Trump Supporter, or a Biden Supporter can be seen in this context as a person who will support or reject a PERSON in total, regardless of actions or policy. Just because a person votes for a given candidate does not necessarily mean that the voter supports that candidate. In many cases the vote is cast for the candidate LEAST OBJECTIONABLE. To label this voter as a "supporter" of that least objectionable candidate is unfair and serves no positive purpose. It, in fact, creates divisiveness, discord and disunity.
Many of the participants of the violent, unlawful attack on the capitol on Jan. 6 carried with them flags, placards and other tokens of fidelity to Donald Trump. Whether or not the people carrying those tokens were actually Trump supporters is open to question. What is not open to question is that violent and unlawful acts were committed by people who should have known better and should therefore be prosecuted for WHAT THEY DID and not for the label foisted on them. Whether or not Donald Trump intentionally caused the unlawful and violent acts is open to debate but there is no question that he had ample opportunity to at least attempt to stop it and he did not. His oath of office included a solemn promise to "protect and defend' the constitution and the rule of law and he willfully failed to do so, Citizens in a democracy are allowed to think and say what is on their mind. Indeed, it is expected and that they do so. I would suggest, however, that the obligation to think and speak is a two part action. Thought without action is useless and action without thought is dangerous.
It is my hope that we can stop using labels to put each other in convenient little boxes and start thinking about specifics of policy and outcomes. I voted for Joe Biden but I am not a "Biden Supporter," meaning that I do not necessarily agree with Joe Biden or concur with his every thought. I do not want to be labeled as "left wing," or "Democrat." I agree with many of the fundamental tenets of what used to be the Republican Party. I have sent money to candidates who have an R after their name because that candidate, in my opinion, had the best interest of the American People at heart and had a reasonable chance of moving us ahead as a nation. I reserve the right to disagree with that candidate on any given issue provided that I have done some thinking beforehand.
Some wise person whose name escapes me (not that uncommon an occurrence these days) said: "Before engaging in a discussion one must begin with the acceptance of the possibility that one may be wrong."