Living in Society

Six Months In with President Trump

Trump: “American Carnage.” Obama: “I’m outta here.” Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s been difficult to get a grip on our 45th president.

His first six months in office have been so different from previous Republican presidents there is no comparison.

An inability to relate to this president — on any level — contributes to a type of dissatisfaction that didn’t exist among ANY of his forebears.

My living memory goes back to Dwight Eisenhower. Our family was not an Eisenhower fan because we were Democrats. At the same time, talk about World War II and his role in the D-Day invasion of France became the subject of child-like war games in the neighborhood. We cut 34 some slack despite his Republicanism.

We began to like him after the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. Our family was excited about the prospect of traveling via Interstate Highway because it reduced the amount of time it took to visit our relatives in Illinois, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida. When we visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, we drove past Eisenhower’s farm and wondered if he and Mamie were home.

Donald J. Trump is no Eisenhower. He’s not a Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush either. I found plenty to disagree with in Republican presidents but also found some common ground with each of them. It was hard with Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush. Despite the atrocities of their presidencies, Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act, Reagan worked with Mikhail Gorbachev to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, and I was willing to give George W. Bush and “compassionate conservatism” a chance before he invaded Iraq post Sept. 11, 2001. No such commonalities exist with Donald J. Trump.

In January, I listened to a recording of 45’s inaugural address hoping for something positive to say about him. There was nothing. His assertions about “this American carnage” not only fell flat, I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about.

Barack Obama had teed up the ball for the next president to take a leadership role at home and abroad. As a golfer, 45 should have known what to do. Trump had neither interest nor the capacity to be a world leader. This was most evident during the recent G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Every participating state affirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That is, every state EXCEPT the United States. 45 is even re-defining what “American exceptionalism” is.

45’s authoritarian style seeks to de-legitimize sources of information contrary to his assertions. He has little foundation to be an arbiter of truth or reality. He’s a man who perpetrated a lie about his predecessor’s birth in the United States. He goes on the attack against people with differing opinions, including governmental agencies, public figures, and members of the media. He is a septuagenarian who gets his news from cable television, more fit to be yelling at the TV than governing. His unscripted posts on Twitter make us cringe and provide distraction for a corporate media that could be better serving the public interest.

During a recent meetup some progressive Democrats were discussing the amount of work it will take to undo 45’s legacy, hopefully by winning the presidency in 2020. I differed. There is no undoing if the Secretary of the Interior enables fracking in the national monuments. There is no undoing if Medicaid is eliminated or hobbled with lack of funding. There is no undoing the damage caused by increased oceanic acidification and extreme weather events. There is no undoing acts of violence and hate crimes perpetrated in 45’s name.

There is no normalizing this president. Those behind the scenes in corporate board rooms, in moneyed resorts, and in every executive office in the government are like termites eating away a Democratic framework created through a lifetime of effort. I can relate to that, although not in a positive way. The termites are everywhere and we lack political will to hire an exterminator.

Even if I were a golfer, it would be difficult to get a grip on this president. It’s past time to accept that and work to protect our interests in the commons, and in government of, by and for the people. Those are Democratic values that won’t go away despite the solitary, authoritarian and incomprehensible figure the 45th president has become.