Over next few months and years there will be some debate about exactly what ended today. One thing is certain though. Barring government collapse or fantastical revelations of systemic conspiracy, the Trump presidency is over.
I’m not an overly political person. I realize that’s an odd claim for someone who’s written hundreds of political essays. But it’s true. The theme that runs under nearly everything that I’ve written comes from the apolitical perspective that I deeply love this country. And I want it to thrive and lead the world towards sustainable peace and prosperity for a thousand years. It’s a belief built on the oath I once swore to defend it as an 18 year old kid, long before the forces of partisan politics had the chance to seep into my DNA and warp my sensibilities. Now, into adulthood as a 40 something father and husband, my desire for a good and decent America for all Americans is in tact. And from that desire springs a core belief that some things need to be true in order for that to happen.
One of them is that the Executive Branch of the United States Federal Government has such tremendous responsibilities and unique power, that the standard for its leadership has to be held. My criticism of President Trump since he announced his candidacy has been motivated by a belief that few people in our history were less appropriate than Donald Trump to hold that standard.
The President of the United States of America needs to understand a few things. First and foremost that the Government of the United States is important. And that it has a responsibility to run effectively and to use the resources it was trusted with to serve the American people. It is not a swamp to be torn down and rebuilt in the likeness of its leader. The institutions that make it are imperfect and need reform…perpetually. But we do better by making them better. More efficient. More effective. More agile. We don’t tear them down without consequence.
Secondly, while politics are a part of running the American Government, they are not the purpose. One cannot lead from the Oval Office with a goal of destroying political enemies. One must have the goal of leading the government to the benefit of Americans. Last night, while President Trump tweeted furiously about a stolen election, President Elect Biden spoke. “…we have to remember the purpose of our politics isn’t total, unrelenting, unending warfare, no. The purpose of our politics, the work of the nation isn’t to fan the flames of conflict but to solve problems, to guarantee justice, to get to improve the lives of our people.”
That’s the spirit Joe. Now go do it.
Third, one cannot be openly, unambiguously and unashamedly dishonest and dishonorable. Because eventually the President of the United States of America is going to have to ask hundreds of millions of people to sacrifice for some collective good. And if no one, not even his supporters trust him, the only people he can compel to do anything are those that benefit from his political patronage. And then we’re just back to politics. We’ve seen just how sclerotic our government response to Covid has been. It’s not a coincidence.
Finally, one cannot run the office if one is not accountable. While claims of fascist takeover have been rampant during the Trump administration, it’s probably a good time to point out that fascism isn’t usually defeated handily at the first instance at the polls in a constitutionally sanctioned election. Trump wasn’t a fascist. He’s a luxury hotel owner. He’s not Putin. He’s Steve Wynn. And that fantasy persona never admits anything other than perfection. Ever. That’s a tough way to run a railroad. Because reality is no longer what happens in the back office and the kitchen of a resort. It’s what happens in the lives of the people you’re accountable for. And you can’t hide from it. No matter how angry and disgusting you have to make yourself to try.
For nearly every one of these requirements, Donald Trump has been historically unfit for decades in the public eye. And it may be true that his presidency was fine until Covid. But that’s the point of the office. Things are always fine, until they aren’t. And when they aren’t we need someone to lead America. Donald Trump’s time is up. He’s proven himself unfit. And now it’s time to insist on the standard for the next President.
Democracy has spoken. And we’re going to turn over the government peacefully, again, as we have done consistently for 240 years; the longest standing constitutional republic in the world. The forces that brought President Trump to power aren’t gone. They did quite well this election outside of the White House. All of that is fine though. The political debate will continue, with Trump and his family likely active and vocal. But it will happen from outside the walls of our hall of leadership, where carnival barkers like him of any political persuasion should never be allowed.
It’s morning in America. It’s time for a new day to start again, with the lessons of the last one well learned.
Here’s to dreaming of America again.