For the average culturally-savvy citizen, the main reason they haven’t seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s widely acclaimed musical, Hamilton, is because they lack the time or money. But if you’re in any way one of our nation’s political-cultural-entrepreneurial elite, those concerns tend to dissipate—you’ve probably already gone to see Hamilton, or somehow have tickets.
Such was the case with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who of course fits into the latter category. He went to a performance of the sold-out production at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York Friday night.
Pence turned around to listen while Dixon petitioned him, “We, sir, 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, sir.
“But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”
Considering the doomsday rhetoric we’ve been exposed to from the top of Pence’s ticket, this entreaty is not only apropos coming from the stage as a medium of expression, but duly necessary.
Pence himself purportedly was not upset or offended by the remarks.
Still, that didn’t stop our President-elect, who has skin as thick as one-ply toilet paper, from condemning the Hamilton cast’s message via his bully pulpit of choice: Twitter.
At 5:48 a.m. on Saturday, Trump tweeted, “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!”
At 5:56 a.m. that same morning, he tweeted, “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!”
This sort of behavior is by no means new for Trump, though it is something to behold considering this man is supposed to represent us on the world stage for the next four years.
Trump’s condemnation of the Hamilton cast does succeed at being brazenly hypocritical, coming from a man who mocked a reporter with a physical disability, among a whole host of similarly egregious acts.
One user replied to Trump’s tweet asking, “When are you going to apologize for all the hate crimes and anti-Semitic attacks in America?” Another tweet in response to the debacle read, “FOLKS WHO VOTED 4 TRUMP: ‘He’ll make America strong!’ TRUMP: ‘The theater kids are harassing us!’”
First off, let’s be clear that there was nothing wrong whatsoever about the Hamilton cast’s address toward the Vice President-elect.
While we still have a president in the Oval Office who taught constitutional law and displays ample familiarity with our government’s founding document, our first amendment right to free speech and expression remain intact.
The theatre, of all places, should be a paradigm space for free expression. And given that the production being staged dealt with the life of one of our founding statesmen, it’s hard to imagine how a political message could be out of place here.
Even if the Hamilton cast had directed a much more abrasive and strongly-worded message at Pence, it would have been entirely within the bounds of legal right.
On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be any discernible reason for Trump to take to Twitter with such vehemence and cry about the theater kids being mean to his running mate. The man has a history of tweeting broadly reprehensible comments whenever he’s felt personally slighted or attacked, and maybe that’s all that happened here.
A colleague of mine astutely pointed out the possibility that Trump was merely using ample media coverage of his Twitter tirade as a distraction from his recent $25 million settlement in the Trump University case.
And in fact, if one were to peruse through Trump’s tell-all journal on Twitter, the last tweet before Trump’s display of unmitigated sensitivity with the theatre kids reads, “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!”
Our President-elect, whom I’ve long regarded as an imbecile without the capacity for nuanced thought, can in fact be full of surprises. Trump is guilty of fraud, and he knows it, so he’d rather have the media focus on his Twitter tantrum in response to the Hamilton cast.
Trump can be crafty and outright devious, and if every conscientious writer in this country were to turn their verbal prowess to articulating how much of a danger he represents for our republic, I’m not sure they’d fall into hyperbole.
If there’s an avenging Aaron Burr-type figure among us today who feels they have sufficient grounds to challenge Trump to a duel, I wouldn’t stand in their way.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr account.
Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.