I spent nearly a year telling everyone I know there was no way the Republican Party would nominate Donald Trump as President. Sadly, I was wrong. I felt confident he would not be elected. Sadly, I was wrong again. However, his election has stirred in myself and others a real urgency to evaluate our deeply held political beliefs. Every time the country has a change of presidential leadership I reflect my own views of government etc. but nothing has made me quite as reflective as the election of Mr. Trump. Truly, his election has been a wake-up call not only for me but for the nation.
I remember in March 2003 having a lengthy discussion with a friend about the impending invasion of Iraq. I was not convinced that we had exhausted our efforts nationally or internationally to determine whether Iraq was a threat to our national security. I felt the invasion was unwarranted and would have grave, negative consequences. I never once felt confident in President Bush’s decision making regarding the war in Iraq. Over the next few years many people would tell me that President Bush went to war just to make money on the oil. Even though I opposed the war, I always refuted that claim. I don’t know how many people I told that even though I questioned President Bush’s capacity, understanding, abilities, and rationale, I never questioned his motive. I felt he was wrong, but I felt he honestly believed he was doing what was right for the nation and the world. I was always confident he put his love of country above himself.
During the Obama years, I watched people treat president Obama as if he were 3/5 of a President, questioning not only his abilities but his motive, character, faith, citizenship and even his legitimacy to hold the office. I am very concerned when partisan tribalism seems to have more sway than facts, empathy, reason and even basic human decency.
My opposition to Mr. Trump is different than my opposition to our 43rd president. I am troubled by his lack of intellectual curiosity and I do have a fundamentally different world view than he does. However, my concerns for him are much deeper than that. His actions, rhetoric, policy ideas, tweets, temperament and interactions with others and most of all his gross misconduct with women, leads me to question not just his abilities but his motives. His disregard for conflict of interest by not putting his assets in a blind trust (as all of his predecessors have done), his retaliatory tweets against anyone who opposes him, his reluctance to acknowledge that a hostile foreign nation tried to influence our election process (even after all 17 independent intelligence agencies verified that fact), he seems divorced from the truth and almost void of human empathy–all troubling to say the least.
All of this and more leads me to believe Mr. Trump is more interested in Mr. Trump than he is the country—that, to me, is the most troubling thing of all. I had similar character concerns with Mr. Clinton–however good his political and public policy abilities were, his personal character led me to question his fundamental motivations. Mr. Trump lacks the character and the ability to be President. I do not intend to judge his eternal standing, I leave that alone to God. I find nothing in his current conduct defensible or worthy of the Presidency. I acknowledge he constitutionally has a right to the office. In fairness, I do not think anyone comes to the Presidency completely prepared. How could they? However, never in my lifetime have I seen someone so unqualified not only by ability but by character.
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”
— The Kansas City Star, 18 May 1918
I think we all owe it to the country to speak truth about Mr. Trump. I think his election has awakened the nation to that sense of duty. I think we are talking about politics, tribalism, moral character, leadership, patriotism and our core democratic beliefs in ways we have not done previously in my adult life. To be clear, I do not think Donald Trump is the cause of our political divide and tribalism. I think he is a product of it.
Clearly then we have the need to do more than just speak truth to power concerning Mr. Trump. We have the obligation to take a long look in the mirror at ourselves. I think his election is helping the country do that. For example, The Women’s March, the March for our Lives, the vibrant and important discussions we are having in this country about race, immigration, women’s rights, gun control, free trade, wealth inequality, etc. are all evidence of a nation taking a long hard look at it self. No one is coming to save us. We are the ones who will need to mend our ailing country. Our institutions are only as strong as the people who make them up. We all have to wake up to the reality that our politics are broken and only we can fix them.