Before my more conservative friends accuse me of hating Trump (and by extension, them) let me say that I do not hate Donald Trump. Furthermore, my intention is not to blame conservatives for this mess. I get it. They wanted a radical change from the status quo. And that is exactly what we all got.
My belief is that most of the well-meaning people who chose Trump initially, now understand that he is woefully unfit to continue as president. They hoped he would put his phone down and get down to the business of governing once he was elected. They hoped he would behave more presidentially. They hoped the pettiness that consumed candidate Trump would dissolve when he is elevated to the world stage. They took him at his word that he would release his tax records for public inspection. They expected him to follow through on promises to dispel any hint of conflicts of interest and align himself with the emoluments clause requirements of the constitution. They wished to see the great business wizard transform the beltway culture of bureaucracies into a new model of government-as-business-for-the-people. They assumed his “say it like it is” style of expressing himself would be instantly translated into short stack legislation by a lock-step Congress. They hoped to God that the accusations of the Trump’s campaign involvement with the Russians would be quickly revealed to be nothing more than the meaningless dross of political sour grapes.
Well, it’s barely a year later, and Trump has virtually nothing to show for his radical new style of governing, except a radically new low approval rating for a modern president. Trump hasn’t stopped tweeting, even when it puts himself or his stated policies in legal jeopardy. He has managed to appear extremely unpresidential whenever he has an opportunity to appear on the world stage. Domestically, his pronouncements that white supremacists, neo-nazis, and confederacy backers are populated by “good people” and his bizarre response to the plight of Puerto Rican citizens (mocking the pronunciation of their territory and throwing them paper towels) has been a disaster. Internationally, it started with a childish shoving aside of the Prime Minister of Montenegro at the NATO summit in May of 2017, and has gone downhill from there. Trump has proven to be an easy mark for much more seasoned world diplomats who have learned that they only need to provide him with opportunities for self-aggrandizement in their presence and his tough talk melts away like so much Trump Natural Spring Water on a sizzling Trump Gold Coin Bar Bank. Maybe someday we’ll actually see those tax returns, but the smart money is on “don’t hold your breath”.
What about dispelling any hint of conflicts of interest and aligning himself with the emoluments clause requirements? Well, since taking office Trump has determined that he and his business interests are subject to neither the law nor his word. Never mind the poor saps who believed their man would just simply do the right thing. So, instead of doing that (the right thing), Trump has been sued by attorneys general for D.C. and Maryland alleging that Trump is“flagrantly violating” the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits U.S. officeholders from taking anything of value from foreign leaders.
The new model of government-as-business-for-the-people looks more and more like what happens when a hostile takeover goes dreadfully wrong. He has failed to fill hundreds of vital management and policy positions throughout the government. Trump clearly has no idea of what federal departments and agencies do - or what they need to remain in functioning order. Given that his appointments to head the most critical government agencies has been to people who also profess to either know nothing about them or have actively opposed them... it is also clear that Trump simply doesn’t want those departments and agencies to function. Of 591 key personnel positions requiring Senate confirmation, Trump has nominated only 225. Of the six slots for undersecretary of state, he has nominated only one. Of the 22 assistant secretaries of state, he has nominated just three. In the Pentagon, he has nominated only two of three undersecretaries of defense and just four of 12 assistant secretaries of defense. Failing to fill these posts clearly cannot be seen as an attempt to obtain business efficiency. Even Trump’s staunches supporters must see this as a systematic and thorough gutting of diplomatic and economic American power in the world.
The expectation my Trump supporting friends had that his “say it like it is”, non-politically correct style of expressing himself would win the kind of legislation they wanted hasn’t quite turned out the way they hoped. Let’s just say that Trump isn’t a very good politician in a place crawling with them. He is extremely naive as to intentions and clueless as to the process of crafting legislation. Of course, he wasn’t alone in his belief that the equally know nothing Republican congress had actually crafted a replacement to the Affordable Care Act and had it waiting to be implemented as soon as he asked for it. The joke is that for over eight years the Republicans in congress swore they had a magic pill piece of much better legislation that could repeal and replace the ACA. So, starting with that gem of Republican presidential/legislative craft, every other piece of major legislation required by the American people has... well... failed. Every time Trump has had an opportunity to actually lead on a legislative issue, and make a real live, honest to God decision (slashing ACA subsidies, the fate of DACA recipients, and Iran nuclear deal come to mind) he has managed punt it off to Congress.
As for the hope of my conservative friends that the accusations of the Trump’s campaign involvement with the Russians would be quickly revealed to be nothing more than the meaningless dross of political sour grapes. Well, this blog is already getting too long. Let’s leave that for future observations.
It is fair to say that people who voted for Trump believing he would somehow turn out to be better than the pre-election evidence to the contrary simply made a terrible decision. Whether they admit that or not, that is the case, and we are all living with the consequences. I hope that when the opportunity to collectively bark “You’re Fired!” to this charlatan arises (hopefully soon) these same people will do the right thing.
The lesson I hope everyone has learned for the next time we are privileged to choose a president is that it is a duty we need to take seriously. We need to keep in mind that a president should not be selected as a statement of anger. Presidents, above all must embody an egalitarian ideal: relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
I propose that we use the following simple guideline in evaluating such a candidate:
E - Emotional Stability
G - Graceful in Conflict
A - Academically Curious
L - Legally unencumbered
I - Integrity
T - Trustworthy
A - Accepting of criticism
R - Respectful
I - Internationally Minded
A - Accountable
N - Noteworthy Human-Centered Achievements
I believe we will all be much better off if we measure candidates against these attributes the next time around.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!