On the eve of Trump’s inauguration, I mourn for the American Presidency. Yes, I am sad Obama is our president for only a few more hours. But I am more troubled at the man who will be leading our country.
Because I thought our country deserves better.
That doesn’t imply per se that we deserve Trump. But somehow here we are. Americans voted for a man who, by many accounts, is a selfish bully with interests only in his family. He viewed the American Presidency as the best way to get the attention he so desired. In his actions and tweets, we see a man who wants to fundamentally change what it means to be the President and even what it means to be American.
The American Presidency
Trump’s presidency will be a gross juxtaposition from that of Obama. Already, he has demonstrated his unwillingness to cooperate with the press. He has said he will limit access to some reporters in the White House briefing room, letting his staff decide instead. He uses Twitter to demean and belittle. He also has very few policy positions, a fact that was abundantly clear during the presidential race. He will delegate decisions to incompetent and unqualified cabinet members. The West Wing will be surrounded by people with their own agenda, some to promote an alt-right agenda. He also just doesn’t laugh. How can we have elected someone who doesn’t laugh!?! Why doesn’t like to laugh???
He will also bully. He will demean. He will belittle. I have two young children. Today, they had a fight over four Hello Kitty paper dolls. They both wanted them. The older one had them and the younger one wanted them. I convinced the older to let the younger play with them. The little one calmed down and then gave her sister two of them. The older sister gave her a picture and hugged her. My heart swelled with pride as they themselves understood what it meant to negotiate, share, and to be a family. But these are not values that Trump holds. My daughters will witness a bully. We will suffer through the consequences of his actions.
For Trump, being president will be a way to see how many deals he can make and people who can like him. Then to ostracize and call names of those who aren’t on his side. But that is not what being a president is. A president is a leader and makes hard decisions for our country. He (because, that’s all we’ve had) is respectful, thoughtful, and dignified. Even though I disagreed with most of what Bush II did, he was still presidential. I was not fundamentally embarrassed by our president as a person.
And so it ends.
I also feel a shift in what it means to be American. For those of us distressed by Trump’s presidency (and by his ratings I’d wager that’s still the majority), it means a time of increased activism. Whether it is an occasional call to your Senator or, well, staring a blog, people are engaged. I believe we are a more engaged citizenry.
People are nonetheless excited by the new president. (Though perhaps not as excited for Obama.) People embrace his vision for America, which just flabbergasts me. His vision involves getting rid of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. It guts fundamental safeguards for civil rights. Public broadcasting would be privatized. (See more details about the leaked budget via The Hill.) And of course, there’s all that horrifying stuff about women and minorities.
Basically, we have a president who will be gross, a bully, and just dishonorable.
Then we have two sorts of Americans with such different visions for our country.
I hope we can come to a compromise. In the mean time, we really must stay active. Our anger and fear cannot cease tomorrow at noon. Because the Trump presidency will get bad. With time and energy we can bring back the American Presidency, but we must act. Onward.