Since January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump has been my president. Prior to that, Barack Obama was my president, and prior to that George W. Bush was my president. I joyfully supported Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. And I vividly remember loving my America while Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, and LBJ were in the White House. I know, I know, in today’s society, people claim their individuality by saying their reality is actually reality. Not so. Life is real, and you are part of reality, but your perceptions don’t establish reality. One mark of maturity is to respond to outside situations realistically and responsibly. I know. I’ve been around since JFK and Eisenhower were also my presidents.
It seems harder to respect presidents nowadays. Not because they don’t deserve it, but because the news media prospers by presenting everything as bad. Many in the news media have refined yellow journalism, criticizing, complaining and abuse of it’s independence into marketable skills. They have made nagging public figures a favorite pastime, and have become experts at blame. That is interesting to me because most journalists have never held a position of consequence, they just criticize those who do. They give the impression that they are experts on everything.
Now to the President: I totally blew it predicting the 2016 election. I don’t want to replay the campaigns, and I’m sure you don’t want me to. But that election cycle totally surprised me. When Trump was nominated, I predicted Hillary Clinton would win 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, not because I was for Clinton, I just couldn’t imagine Trump winning. I was wrong. Trump won.
But how did he do it? I think Forbes Magazine’s article on Jared Kushner (December 20, 2016 issue) is the best explanation I’ve read yet on the Trump strategy that helped win the election. (It’s excellent and deserves to be studied by everyone). So much has been written and debated about this election, but I have some additional thoughts:
- I think the press helped elect Trump: In the 2016 Republican primaries I liked Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Jeb Bush. I couldn’t see Donald Trump going very far. But he did, largely because the press could not resist him. All of the experienced, mainstream candidates with first hand knowledge of governing were negatively branded “establishment” by the press and discounted. Because of that, the candidates with proven skills appeared boring and routine, while Trump had the press salivating at every word. His ideas and language were so entertaining, shocking, funny, repulsive, and pretentious, it was great television! And it turned out to be very appealing to mid-America. I read somewhere that the mainstream media gave him $1,000,000,000 worth of free coverage, while the others couldn’t get a sound-bite. The press inadvertently nominated and elected President Donald Trump.
Gayle and I used to watch DVR recordings of Meet the Press and Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square every week (we don’t any more.) As we watched these shows and other mainstream media outlets align against Trump and blatantly assail him, it actually endeared us to him. Surprisingly, their prejudice, arrogance, and disrespect triggered our kindness and forgiveness toward Trump. Although he’s offensive to many of our values and even inconsistent with many of my political preferences, when the unelected elites in the press became so passionate that their view of America was the only authentic view, I had to reconsider.
Since I believe in the power of checks and balances, and that our republic will survive and there will be other elections, I’m not troubled by any one single election. I am, though, troubled when we put people on the Supreme Court who do not believe the constitution means what it says. My interest was the Supreme Court, not political personalities. When the press was openly calling a guy like me an idiot, a racist, and a sexist for thinking I wanted a president who would appoint a strict constructionist to the Supreme Court, they impacted me. Was I “nuts” and a “buffoon” to think vacated seats should be filled with someone who believed the constitution should be closely followed? I had, and have, very good reasons not to prefer Trump as president, but the Supreme Court is more important to me than those concerns. The press helped persuade me.
- I think Sanders helped elect Trump: I think Sanders had better manners and answered questions more directly than Trump or Clinton, but I’ve traveled the world and know that the compelling language of socialism does not deliver as promised. Since Clinton allowed Sanders to pull her further left, I was again motivated to disregard my concerns about Trump. I believe we are in the early stages of the socialization of America, but I did not want to contribute to that slide. When I learned that 85% of Sanders supporters switched to Clinton, that helped persuade me to shift the other direction.
- I think Hillary Clinton helped elect Trump: Clinton’s resume was impressive, and I’m not the guy who is going to hold someone else’s sins against them. And I’m not a sexist, so gender did not play a role in my contemplation. But when she identified aborting children as the “women’s issue” of our generation, and refused to differentiate between someone who immigrates to our country legally from those who come here illegally, I became disenchanted. I just couldn’t support her generalizations or determination to characterize guys like me as enemies of Americanism. It appeared to me that the Democrat party had perfected identity politics (dividing people into groups: women, men, college educated, high school educated, native Americans, blacks, LGBTQ, Hispanics, whites, immigrants, students, etc.), and Clinton repeatedly implied these were warring interest groups instead of diverse Americans who value that we all flavor one another, like various ingredients in a melting pot. I like diversity, but I don’t like politicians who assume differences inherently promote competition and hate.
I want government to help responsible people who need a hand, to aggressively retrain people so we can be competitive in a changing marketplace, and to help the disadvantaged, like my special needs son who, without a miracle, will never be able to help himself. I believe our laws need to be equally applied to all of our citizens regardless of race, gender, or religious or sexual preferences. But when Clinton assumed I was against those needing help or those who were different than me, she sent me the other direction.
I want to be a giver, not a taker. There are lots of good people who pay taxes, obey the laws, and support as many benevolent activities in our communities as we can. We pursue our educations so we can serve others, and keep working past retirement age because we think it’s honorable to work hard. We patronize quality businesses and support those in need. By seeming to come against these good folks, Clinton, in effect, helped Trump.
It’s starting to look like Trump is getting great results. Time will tell. Regardless, he is our president. Note that in my opening paragraph that listed all the presidents who have served in my lifetime, I didn’t mention their party. Why? Because once they are elected, it does not matter to me. That’s my reality, and my hope is that regardless of your political party, Facebook friends, or age — regardless of the group you belong to, you’ll see the benefit of making our country work. If you are only accustomed to helping when the person or party you prefer is in power, it might be time to talk to some older folks and learn the value of serving people who are different from you. We have a great country. Let’s all serve it well.