There is still a mistaken belief in some corners of public opinion that there was something offensive and inappropriate about the speech Brandon Dixon gave at the end of the performance of “Hamilton” that Mike Pence attended a few months ago in November. This belief, which gained popular attention by comments Trump made on Twitter, deserves to be properly reconsidered. Mike Pence, in his own words, wasn’t offended nor should he have been. Pence may have recklessly left it open to others regarding judgement, and that might have also propelled this mistaken belief that there was something offensive said, but, the comments made by Dixon were quite benign and perfectly appropriate. Dixon’s brief comments are as follows:
“We, sir — we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
It was a short, respectful and positive statement. Additionally, it was a plea intended for proper and respectful consideration. The idea that this is an inappropriate comment is absolutely absurd. The statement promotes the core concept behind the production of “Hamilton.” Ironically, this incident highlights the whole reason why we revolted against England. Our pleas were not being properly considered by the king. The notion that political statements should not be made in this Broadway play is also ridiculous given that the whole play is a political statement that celebrates our American heritage and our American ideals. Our American ideals of liberty and justice can never be inappropriate no matter where they are spoken.
Furthermore, from an interview after the incident, Pence commented, “When we arrived we heard a few boos, and we heard some cheers. I nudged my kids and reminded them that is what freedom sounds like.” Pence’s statement contradicts another prevailing misconception that the “boos” Trump may have tweeted about was a result of the plea made by Dixon at the end of the play (Trump tweeted that the “Hamilton” cast “Harassed” Pence). The “boos,” according to Pence, happened before the play even began, before the statement was read aloud and not by the “Hamilton” cast but by random members of the audience who, obviously, were exercising in their own way, albeit, somewhat unsophisticatedly and not very respectfully, their freedom of speech. In any case, the “boos” definitely were not sponsored by nor were they encouraged by the “Hamilton” cast. And, to be honest, after watching the video, there seemed to be more cheers than “boos” for Mike Pence when he walked into the auditorium.
“Hamilton” is a play about dignity and diversity, how an illegitimate, but brilliant foreign born child of a British merchant from minor aristocratic origins rose to become a founding father of our nation. The comments Dixon made were perfectly legitimate given the content and the context of the play and the nervous aftermath of the recent election. People want reassurance from our President-Elect that he will be what he said he would be: “the President of all.”
But, that is not what we get. What we get instead is the exact opposite. Instead of addressing their legitimate concerns, the President-Elect only re-enforces those concerns with tweets that seem more suited to ones a despot might use to inflame public opinion against his supposed enemies. The statements tweeted by Trump should never come from a President of the United States. Those tweets should never come from someone who is the representative of all Americans and they definitely should not come from someone who is responsible for being the face of American democracy for the next four or eight years.
What we have is a President-Elect who is “Tweeting” the truth and our country away into oblivion with provocative statements that continue to speak only to his base but sometimes sucking in any other poor unsuspecting citizens sitting on the sidelines who fail to wrap their heads around the dangerous game Trump is playing. These are victims who fail to understand how they are being manipulated by Trump’s perverse and un-statesman like comments. Trump has not changed since the election despite the apparent false hope some of his supporters have that he will act more presidential once he takes office.
I am not sure who can persuade Trump to change. But the threat his current actions pose to our republic is real. The statements he makes similar to the ones made about the cast of “Hamilton” are only meant to distract and manipulate the public away from other focuses. It may start out small like removing focus from his Trump University settlement but it may progress into bigger things like the realization our liberties have just been snatched away from us because we were too busy focusing attention on something that required no focus of attention at all.
The comments that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates made before the election that Trump is “beyond repair” should be taken seriously. Because, if that is true, if Trump really is “beyond repair,” it only means one thing for our country: America itself may be “beyond repair” after Trump gets done with it. Unfortunately, by electing Donald Trump as President, America has decided more Polarization is required which is a big enough threat to our country on its own but with that comes this even greater threat to our republic that his reckless tweeting and his provocative statements can permanently damage our democratic institutions and our standing in the world to a point where they become “beyond repair.”
Trump’s Tweets about “Hamilton”:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 19 Nov 2016
Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing.This should not happen!
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 19 Nov 2016
The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 20 Nov 2016
The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior