Throughout his campaign, people predicted that Donald Trump was on the cusp of “pivoting” to a more presidential version of himself. That never happened before the election, but for two days, it looked like actually being elected president might have done the trick.
First, Trump gave a shockingly gracious victory speech in which he praised Hillary Clinton — a woman he called the devil — and promised to be “president for all Americans.” After meeting with President Obama — the “incompetent” alleged co-founder of ISIS — at the White House, Trump said he has “great respect” for his predecessor and repeatedly called him “a very good man.”
Trump was behaving so nicely that someone decided to let him use Twitter again. In his first 48 hours as president-elect, Trump tweeted only three times, promising that Americans “will all come together as never before,” celebrating the Marines, and writing this about his trip to the White House:
Then, on Thursday night, this happened:
In under 140 characters, the president-elect complained that he was being treated unfairly, and criticized two elements of the First Amendment. And that’s coming from a man who suggested the election would be anything but “very open,” questioned the current president’s citizenship, and called for a march on Washington immediately after Obama’s reelection in 2012.
Nine hours later, he changed his tune after what one can only assume was a lecture from one of the clearer-thinking people in his orbit. Or maybe someone snatched his phone while he was on a bathroom break. In any case, this is what Trump tweeted early Friday morning, in clear contradiction of his message Thursday night.
On Thursday, the nationwide anti-Trump protests that began immediately after Trump’s election continued for a third night. Thousands of people took to the streets, and the vast majority are not “professional” protesters. The demonstrations even include people who are not old enough to vote.
As for the idea that the media is “inciting” the protests, it’s not entirely clear what Trump means. Media outlets have certainly encouraged those unhappy with the election results to turn their emotions into action, and to stay and fight for their beliefs rather than whining about moving to Canada. But there is no coordinated media effort directing the actions of “professional protesters.”
There is also no mainstream media outlet calling for people to literally fight for their beliefs. While the demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, some have burned flags and effigies of Trump, and Politico reports that at least 124 people have been arrested across the country. On Thursday night, police called the protest in Portland, Oregon, a riot “due to extensive and dangerous behavior,” such as “throwing projectiles” and “use of illegal fire devices.” Police said they used tear gas several times, and three officers were injured.
One protester interviewed by CNN on Wednesday said, “There will be casualties on both sides.” Anchor Don Lemon responded, “No one should be advocating violence, I want to make that very clear.” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said President Obama or Hillary Clinton needed to step up:
Both Clinton and Obama have urged Clinton supporters to accept the results of the election and give Trump a chance — but yes, politicians should discourage people from resorting to violence.
There’s another person, however, who Conway forgot to mention: the man who was just elected president. America needs a leader to condemn the violence happening at anti-Trump protests, and try to assure fearful, angry demonstrators that they’ll be treated fairly under a Trump administration. America needs a leader to condemn some Trump supporters’ efforts to intimidate women and minorities. But instead of trying to prove that he’s a leader who will “bind the wounds of division,” as he promised on election night, so far Trump has only sent out a tweet complaining that people are being “unfair” to him.