President-elect Donald Trump would do well to behave more like VP-elect Mike Pence.
On Friday night, Pence attended the smash hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” in New York City. Upon arriving he was greeted with cheers and jeers. Such a reception is not uncommon for elected officials, and certainly not for Trump’s right-hand man. At the curtain call, however, actor Brandon Victor Dixon singled out Pence and read a message on behalf of the cast. Dixon touched on the fear and anxiety that a “diverse America” is feeling as the country approaches the beginning of the Trump presidency.
Was the post-show display inappropriate? I believe so. It was a rude, ill-timed gesture that could have easily been done in private. But the incident served as a reminder that many are genuinely terrified of Trump’s upcoming turn at the helm in ways that go beyond mundane political differences. Even conservatives such as myself are cautiously awaiting what is ahead. Frankly, none of us know what to expect.
To his credit, Mike Pence responded to the uproar in a classy, gracious way.
“Hamilton is just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there,” Pence said.
Pence noted that when he arrived at the show, he heard a few boos and some cheers.
“And I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence said.
I’m sure VP-elect Pence didn’t enjoy the select ridicule he received and the mild sermon he endured. Who would? It could have been far worse, though. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump called for the show’s cast to apologize and #BoycottHamilton even trended on Twitter. Both are examples of overreaction to the mild incident.
Early on Sunday morning, Trump, probably still incensed by the Broadway drama, made known his dislike of “Saturday Night Live’s” show from the previous evening on Twitter:
Trump and Pence’s reactions over being targeted by those in the entertainment industry could not have been more different.
For Trump, who is about to take over as leader of the free world, his thin skin is quite problematic. More than once he has scolded the media and its personalities for their differing opinions. While he might prefer that all their conclusions be of a pro-Trump nature, opposing viewpoints do exist, will always exist, and are a staple of a free society. The entertainment industry, for example, is glaringly liberal, and middle-of-the-road or center-right worldviews aren’t often portrayed. But guess what? They don’t have to be. Television executives and Broadway producers are free to make their own decisions about what they offer up to the public. This also goes for any post-show declarations, like what happened on Friday. Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide whether we’ll tune in or not. It is never the responsibility of anyone to conform to anyone else’s thinking.
President-elect Trump could learn something from VP-elect Pence about how to be courteous in the face of opposition. Beyond that, he also needs to understand that freedom means diversity of thought even if you don’t like the message or manner of delivery.
Mike Pence understood this in the midst of a partially jeering crowd. Let’s hope Donald Trump eventually will, too. It will serve him – and the country – well.