Forty three million U.S. citizens knew who Donald Trump was when they voted for him in November 2016. All of them knew he was a builder, a reality TV star, prone to gross exaggeration and an ego-maniac who needed his name on everything. They voted for him anyway. Why?
Its physics. When a pendulum swings so far in one direction it will come back with an equal force in the opposite direction. Barack Obama set the stage and guaranteed the win for Donald Trump.
The nation had just experienced eight years of a buttoned down, smooth, always controlled, gifted (on prompter) orator who had overseen a nation in social, economic and foreign policy decline…all the while playing golf and waxing eloquent on how good things were. Well, they were not good for most of the population and we knew it in our pocketbook and our gut.
The persona of Barack Obama assured that we lost our taste for appearances. We had bought the promise of hope and change because it was delivered by a slick package that looked like the ultimate American Dream come true. But looks can be deceiving. Behind the suave exterior were crippling domestic policies, disastrous foreign policies, and a stunning disconnect from the experiences most Americans were having.
When Donald Trump stepped onto the national political stage our options narrowed. He was a refreshing but dangerous change. We were so eager to be refreshed we ignored the danger. One ignores danger at one’s peril. A nation is no less at risk from such ignorance than is an individual.
As a former Democrat turned Independent, I am not unhappy with some of the policy changes being implemented by President Trump. I have great comfort in the appointment of Justice Gorsich to the Supreme Court. I do think a temporary travel ban is called for until a secure vetting process can stop what has obviously overrun Europe due to the lack of one. The more federal regulations that can be removed from around the necks of private industry, particularly small businesses, the better.
But my happiness is tempered by the fact that I find his behavior sad and troubling.
When the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky fiasco was playing out, my daughter was beginning grade school. I remember having to monitor what I listened to on the car radio for fear that she would be exposed to yet another conversation about the President and oral (or other variations on) sex. At that time, and ever since, my thoughts on the matter have been that regardless of whatever good Clinton may have done for the economy or foreign policy, they were far outweighed by his total lack of respect for the Office of the Presidency and the pit of smut and filth into which he had dragged the culture.
We are at such a moment.
While many are upset that this President lies, I am not. They all lie. I wish they did not, but they do. The fact that this President does it with impunity without regard for illusion is, one could argue, more honest than trying to make the lies seem true…which is what Presidents routinely do.
What I find dangerous is that President Trump is modeling behavior that makes it acceptable to get even. It is behavior most commonly found on grammar school play grounds or in college fraternity houses. It is low level consciousness behavior. It is the path of force taken by someone who lacks an understanding of power vs. force.
True power brings restraint. It is the knowledge that non-action can be the most effective use of energy. It is Martin Luther King’s approach to hatred and bigotry vs Malcolm X’s. True power minimizes the need for reactive behavior. It chooses its moment to respond with discernment and is not provoked by foolishness into premature and futile acts.
I do not know if President Trump is employing some sort of deliberate strategy by being in a battle with the press (and others). Even if it’s conscious, deliberate and helpful to him in 2020…it is harmful to the forty three million Americans who voted for him and for the millions who did not. It is bad for the nation.
This vindictive behavior adds fuel to an already blazing fire of division that has engulfed the country. It legitimizes petty and harmful acts to our youth who look for leaders and role models to emulate. It is caveman behavior lacking reason and higher ground, problem solving processes. It is beneath the office that our President serves but it is also beneath the most modest levels of civility. Mr. President, let them implode while you rise to the position with which we entrusted you.
No one should be precluded from self-defense. But when you are a graduate of the most respected business school in the nation, a self-made million or billionaire, the most powerful man in the world, surrounded 24/7 by the most elite protection force in the world, with the codes to nuclear war, literally, at your fingertips… yet you cannot seem to remember that “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”…then perhaps someone else should be carrying that suitcase with the codes.