Not My President

Donald Trump believes he is president only of the people who voted for him.

Donald Trump is not my president.

I say this with a heavy heart and not because I did not vote for Trump nor because I disagree with his policies. I say it because Trump does not represent me and does not wish to do so. He does not believe I am his constituent. Rather, Trump believes himself to be the president of the Republican base only — one-third to two-fifths of the electorate — and governs, at best, in what he perceives is its interests. At worst, he governs only in his self-interest.

Harry Truman is the first president I remember. All of them since, Republicans and Democrats, were my president and the president of all Americans. I first voted in 1960, often — all too often — for the losing candidate. But, all of the winners, until Trump, governed in what they perceived was my interest and the interests of all Americans. Trump simply does not care about the two-thirds of America that did not vote for him. Frankly, I am not sure he cares about the other third, either.

Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

George W. Bush is, perhaps, the one exception to my statement that all previous presidents were my president. Bush was an illegitimate president — loser of the popular tally by 500,000 votes and loser in the Electoral College, until the Supreme Court intervened in a highly partisan and constitutionally dubious decision. Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who cast one of the votes to make Bush president, later expressed regret over the court’s decision. But, though Al Gore should have been president and Bush’s policies in Iraq and on the economy were disastrous, I always believed he governed in what he perceived were the interests of the nation.

The sad truth is this: Trump is not even the president of the Republican base. As I suggested above, he cares only about himself. Trump perfectly fits the textbook definition of a narcissist: “The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity [Trump frequently touts his brilliance], a lack of empathy for other people [just ask the 800,000 federal workers who have not been paid since December 22, 2018, about Trump’s empathy], and a need for admiration [no comment necessary]. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding [again, the evidence is obvious].” And, narcissists throw temper tantrums when they do not get their way. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump

As we learned recently, thanks to excellent reporting in The New York Times and The Washington Post, Trump may well represent the interests of only one man: Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Times’ report claims the FBI opened an investigation after the firing of Director James Comey into whether Trump is a Russian agent, an accusation Trump at first declined to deny in a friendly interview on Fox News. The second report, in The Post, describes Trump’s efforts to conceal details of his conversations with Putin. The issue now is not whether Trump’s policies aid the interests of the Russian government. They clearly do. The issue is whether the president of the United States is a witting or unwitting agent of that government. Which one it is may not, in the end, matter much.

Trump is not my president for another reason: He is the first head of the United States government who has no reverence for this nation’s history and does not appear to care whether this grand experiment in self-government continues. I do not know for a fact, but I would be very surprised if Trump has ever read the Declaration of Independence, and his ignorance of the Constitution has been documented (remember the time he told a group of Republican senators he wished to protect the non-existent Article XII?)

Trump tramples the principles upon which America was founded. He claims extraordinary powers for himself (the right to declare a national emergency to build an ineffective wall to counter a non-existent crisis, for example). He professes “love” and admiration for the world’s most brutal despots, and his actions veer toward autocracy. Just this past week, Trump said, “…I find China, frankly, in many ways, to be far more honorable than cryin’ Chuck [Schumer] and Nancy [Pelosi].” Think about that! The president of the United States finds a regime that imprisons thousands for alleged political transgressions, violently suppresses the Uighurs, 11 million of whom live in the Chinese northwest, and regularly censors its own citizens more “honorable” than the loyal opposition in his own country! 

There is much ugliness in the history of the United States: The extermination of North America’s original inhabitants, the enslavement of millions of Africans, segregation, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and more. But, the founding creed of America (all men are created equal) inspires millions around the world, and American history has been the story of the nation aspiring to live up to Thomas Jefferson’s words. The bravery of the abolitionists, the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the Civil War, the marching and demonstrating of courageous Americans in the last century all testify to the longing to achieve a “more perfect Union.”

President Abraham Lincoln just after delivering the Gettysburg Address

I fear Donald Trump’s presidency undermines Abraham Lincoln’s famous words “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I suspect Trump either does not care whether the people’s government flourishes or, as an agent of a foreign power, actively is subverting self-government. Regretfully, that is why I say, Donald Trump is not my president. 

He is not yours, either.

Posted January 18, 2019

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