Respect Cannot Be Demanded

As is usual for his tweets, Donald Trump recently tried to get ahead of another embarrassing rebuke.

He’s correct in his first sentence. Going to the White House is a huge honor considered as a once in a lifetime opportunity by anyone. The problem is that the president believes the occupant of the White House is automatically owed the respect and loyalty of its visitors. Sorry, Mr. Trump, it doesn’t work that way. People in the positions of power and leadership aren’t required to be revered by the citizens. The United States isn’t your kingdom and its citizens aren’t your subjects. Citizens are allowed to peacefully protest and show dislike for their so-called leaders.

I can hear some people responding now. “He’s allowed to rescind an invite! It’s his right as the president to determine who can and can’t visit!” Well, sure, that’s definitely true, but his reasoning for doing so in this case seems disingenuous. He seems to be implying that it’s disrespectful to hesitate accepting an invite. As citizens of the United States, we are free to do what we want within the bounds of the laws. If a someone doesn’t want to visit the White House, then he or she isn’t required to do so against their will.

If the president wants people to be genuinely glad to visit his residence, then he needs to learn the meaning of the word “respect.” Let us first review its meaning as defined in the dictionary:


  1. a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.


  1. admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Notice the important parts of those definitions: “admire,” “as a result of,” “elicited by,” “abilities,” “qualities,” and “achievements”. Starting with “admire,” let’s review its definition:


  1. regard (an object, quality, or person) with respect or warm approval.
  2. look at with pleasure

Here is where we start to link together the incompatibility between “respect” and “demand.” Respect requires admiration, approval, and pleasure. These three concepts are antithetical to the concepts understood to be associated with the word “demand.” Finally, let’s review that definition:


  1. an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right.


  1. ask authoritatively or brusquely.

Nobody has a “right” to be respected and commanding through authority certainly doesn’t evoke the sense of pleasure or admiration from the receiver.

This is where we come full circle. Donald Trump wants people to like him (almost to the point of desperation). If he’s serious about uniting the country and building admiration for him and his administration, then he needs to realize his constant demands for respect and admiration are working against his interests. Oh, and a halt to supporting hateful rhetoric couldn’t hurt. Be a good person and good people will come to you.