This past weekend Vice-President elect Mike Pence went to see the Tony award-winning show “Hamilton.” He hoped for a pleasant night out on the town with some family members but was ambushed by a group of actors who portray our founding fathers as they fought for freedom.
Do these actors have a right to express themselves? Absolutely. The First Amendment protects our rights of religious liberty, free expression and political action. At no time during the post-performance commentary by Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays the part of Aaron Burr, did the actor or the cast do anything beyond the scope of the First Amendment.
Were the remarks classy and respectful? Not so much. Karl Rove suggested an edited version of the Dixon speech that would have been so much more inspirational.
Dixon said, “we are the Americans who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend our inalienable rights . . .”
Rove offered the following, “We sir, are part of the diverse nation that is America. With the election now past, we all hope for your administration’s success in defending our planet, our children, and the inalienable right of every American. We are grateful that you came and hope this show inspires you as you work on behalf of all the people of our common country.”
A few points should be emphasized about Dixon’s comments and perspectives. First he’s not a patriot just because he dresses up and portrays Aaron Burr each night, and then raps about the early days of our nation. Nor is he a soldier who risks his life for our freedom. Nor does he represent all Americans. In fact he represents about half of the voters as over 50 million people cast their ballots for Trump/Pence in the election.
The venue was New York City, in a Broadway theater that’s manned by an idealistic, young and diverse cast. The show is a super hit that’s difficult to see because tickets are scarce. I’ve attended two performances on and off-Broadway and think the show is spectacular, deserving of all the accolades it has received.
It’s not a surprise that Dixon and his troupe are liberal-minded with strong feelings about the recent election. Nor is it offensive in any way that the actors are protective of the rights of minorities, gays and millennials. In fact I applaud their enthusiasm.
What I find hard to swallow is that Dixon’s words did not in any way live up to the high standards of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” script. It could have been a gigantic moment where young and old, people of color and whites and liberals and conservatives banded together as one. This would have been truly enlightening for the audience and Pence.
To criticize Trump and company before they take office and to presume they will fail is kind of un-American. Our nation was built on hope and high expectations, not negativity.
But the most outrageous part of this episode is that yet another group of performers, along with all the celebrities that supported Hillary Clinton, actually believe they have any meaningful influence over our elections. Voters don’t cast ballots because Jay-Z, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry and Jon Bon Jovi ask them to. They vote as citizens with their minds and hearts.
The outcome of the presidential election may not satisfy the predominantly liberal citizens of New York City. But that’s too bad.
Congratulations to Mike Pence who handled a very awkward moment like a true statesman. Alexander Hamilton would have been proud of him.