Perhaps fatigue overwhelmed last night but I could not sleep. The fact that one of the best presidents of our nation’s history would step down to be replaced by a man who shouted racial, misogynist, divisive, and derisive rhetoric at women, minorities, and disabled people could have contributed to my unrest.
At one point in the evening, I spied a Huff-Post live broadcast which appeared to be a bit of a set-up. An attractive young woman, with caramel skin and straightened hair, teared a little as she talked about how much she would miss Mr. Obama. Her two black sons, she said, knew no one other than Obama as president. He had been a good role model for them. Then she plugged her new album. I laughed at that segue. Then I sobered as the Huff-Post reporter asked the woman to take the mic and talk to Donald Trump. If the interview had been staged to that point, it got real all of a sudden.
With a crowd of D.C. demonstrators behind her, the woman nervously looked into the camera and extolled Donald Trump to do a good job and be a president for all of the nation.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve scrolled past the memes this week, seeing the bitter comments but also remembering the news media in 2008 and 2012 covering people angry because of Barack Obama’s election. I saw one post repeated time and again which seemed to express what I feel in my gut. I don’t know who wrote it or I would have a link or attribution. But here is what it said:
I dislike Donald Trump because HE is a racist. You dislike Barack Obama because YOU are a racist.
At times, I don’t think Trump actually holds specific racist views. That would be too glib an explanation of why the KKK supports him. I think that organization sees a deeper truth. They detect that Trump can serve their ends because he has no greater allegiance than his front yard. He does not seek to serve justice. By all appearances, Donald Trump doesn’t care about anyone other than himself and his children. His goals involve something more insidious even than to “Make America White Again”, as his supporters scrawl across hotel rooms and lockers throughout America. His goal starts and ends with self-promotion.
But know this: Donald Trump’s narcissistic behavior threatens all of us. That young mother interviewed by Huff-Post, along with scores of other folks including President Obama, expressed a hope born of her good intentions. All of these hopeful souls want the incoming president to succeed because they define the success of a presidential administration in the context of improving the national horizon. They define the president as being the steward of our American welfare.
Trump’s endgame undoubtedly differs. He has announced his intention to vindicate himself, to show himself to be “the best”. We know because of how he’s conducted his life that his notion of “the best” sharply differs from that held by men and women of good conscience. Trump wants to be able to do as he pleases — pay bills or not according to his whim; grab women on demand; conduct business as usual despite undeniable conflicts of interest; and consort with leaders who threaten world stability simply because he, Donald Trump, adores the concept of walking in what he perceives to be tall cotton.
Therefore I do not share the hope of that young woman in the sense that I do not want him to accomplish his goals. I fervently pray that he will fail in his own ambitions, unless he changes them which I do not for one moment allow myself to foolishly believe will happen.
I join with John Pavlovitz in offering myself to be proven wrong. I will admit my gross error if Trump turns out to be a uniting force. I will acknowledge that I was wrong if he shows himself to be a president who cultivates policies and practices which bring our citizenry closer together and which respect every American. If he welcomes immigrants to our shores in the tradition of this great nation; if he promotes equality; holds the line on civil rights; disdains abuse of women, disabled persons, and minorities; and encourages bi-partisan solutions to the difficulties of our nations — I will offer my wrists for a public flagellation.
Further: If the Republican members of Congress promote these efforts, I will be as vocal in my expressions of relief and praise as I have been in my castigation. Video after video of outraged politicians condemning Trump appeared on the news after the release of the tape of Donald Trump boasting of his sexual assault of women. The voices of protest included many in the Republican Congress including some of the party’s leaders. If those same detractors step forward and force Trump to govern by a higher standard than those by which he has lived his entire life, I will be among the first to rise and praise them.
From this day forward, I will be here. Waiting. Watching.