Trump might be my new favorite President

I really do think Trump is working hard to become my favorite President — his position is solidifying every day.

This august position used to be Bill Clinton’s. Bill snatched it from such luminaries as Washington and Lincoln, something made possible only in the modern era where the common man had a chance to observe and admire (or abhor) the President on a regular basis.

Since Kennedy, we’ve really more or less converted our Presidents into kings, you see. For a country of individualists, that’s a bad thing; it gives the President much more responsibility and power than he (or she, if you like) should have.

I’m old-school. I don’t want a king. I want a citizen as President, nothing more, nothing less. I want my statesmen to be my peers, although hopefully better-informed and wiser than I am.

So President Clinton, through not being able to keep himself zipped up appropriately, did a lot of damage to the power of the Presidency; he illustrated the idea that a President was just this guy quite well — I wish the “guy” had been more upstanding, I guess, but we needed someone willing to take an axe to the root system of the office.

Perjury strikes at the very heart of the Presidency; Clinton, by perjuring himself in ways that would embarrass a third-grader caught with his hand stuck in the cookie jar, made his own office something to ridicule.

Then George W. Bush came along! For someone like me, Bush was a perfect candidate. Thick-tongued, a man of faith… here was someone who might not be a fantastic statesman but seemed to be a better human being than Bill Clinton, and that’s more or less what I thought we needed in the post-perjury years.

And then along came 9/11 and our President was converted right back into a king.

Obama was a good statesman and from all appearances quite a decent fellow, regardless of whether you approve of his political choices or not… but he still managed to cultivate a cult of personality such that he remained a king. Maybe that’s what he needed to do in order to be elected; I don’t know for sure, and if that’s the case, our system is broken. (Which is, of course, my core assertion; when the President is a king, we encourage only those who are willing to become a king to become President. And we don’t need that.)

Now we have The Ironically Titled Honorable Donald John Trump as President… and I’m not even sure where to begin.

A businessman of, um, let’s call them “pragmatic political beliefs,” Trump’s sigil isn’t ideally an eagle or a bull, a bear or a tiger — his best representative from the animal kingdom would be a boar, its head stuck in the trough, unaware of and uncaring about what crap went into its slop, as long as the slop keeps coming and coming and coming.

A man whose career was built on being observed, he apparently never quite caught on that America does actually have core political beliefs, and also has demonstrated a remarkable inability to read the crowd at a national level. His observational skills are limited to being in person at best, and asking him to speak to a wider, heterogenous audience is inviting disaster.

This is a man who employs Jews, whose daughter is a converted Jew, whose grandchildren are Jewish. I don’t believe he’s an anti-Semite in any way (again, because of pragmatism; committing to a belief such as anti-Semitism would require more effort than he’s demonstrated towards anything but the pursuit of the almighty Dollar.)

But at the same time, this same person was unable to recognize that “X is as bad as the Nazis” is untrue for any given value of X in human history thus far.

Further, this President is amazingly polarizing.

His support is bound up in all kinds of jingoistic, often racist-tinged publications. Those who support him politically and wholeheartedly have already had to do some soul-searching to figure out what’s wrong with themselves.

And those who oppose him… it’s hard to express the joy and horror I feel watching people oppose the President.

The joy is because I don’t want a king; opposing the President is a pastime that United States citizens are able to enjoy more than almost any other citizens on the face of the earth. And after watching the Left coronate Obama (“He can do no wrong”) for eight years, it’s good to see that they remember how to resist. And given that a lightning rod for the past few weeks has been racism and nationalism, it’s good to see the Left remember Jews positively for once.

The horror is in the form of resistance that it has taken. Images of the President beheaded in effigy; calls for his assassination; violence against those with whom disagreement has had; requests to dismantle the First Amendment, disregarding that this makes the United States a police state, and hands the keys to what is acceptable to think and say to… Trump.

At this point, I think the Left has as much to search its soul over as the Right does. They protested (rightfully) the calls for harm against Obama, and now they’re doing the same thing, in a sort of eye-for-an-eye reaction that does little but embolden their critics and diminish their own position.

So… yes, I think Trump is working hard to take over the position as “Best President” from Bill Clinton. (What’s odd is that George Washington, from whom Clinton took the title, was relegated to #2 for me… but when Clinton is toppled, he’ll drop to #40 or so. It’s all or nothing when you’re a cad, you know.) I just hope that the United States can emerge from under Trump’s Presidency in 2020 with its soul restored.

Trump is going to have been useful in the end… I hope

I think that history will look back on Donald Trump’s presidency and smile.

That presumes, of course, that we survive Trump’s presidency, which I think we’ll manage; those who think we won’t are betraying a fundamental distrust of our resiliency as a society, and that distrust itself is a result of that very resiliency.

But I do think that we’ll be able to look at this presidential term and say some positive things, even though I don’t have any confidence that Trump’s presidency will be “successful” by most metrics.

Trump is us. He’s our guy – whether we’re willing to claim him or not, he is our President. If you’re American, he’s yours, like it or not. That’s the way it is.

He won the election by the rules agreed to by every candidate; he lost the majority vote, yes, but that’s the way the system is designed: it balances geography with population. If people wanted the rules changed, all they have to do is follow the process — but the election went by the rules in place and everyone knew the rules.

If you voted for him, well, he’s your President; I don’t know why you voted for him – I know of a few different reasons that I could intellectually accept and a lot of reasons that sound absolutely absurd but apparently people thought they were valid anyway. But if you voted for him, well, you asserted certain ideas about the Presidency and who you wanted in it, and who you wanted representing us on the global stage, in competition with the other candidates.

If you voted against him, well, he’s your President; I sympathize, but watching from the fence, I think you primarily failed in your mode of communication. Trump succeeded by arguing like a five-year-old, as one comedian pointed out, and that somehow resonated with voters. You failed because you didn’t rebut that very well; what I saw was condescension and arrogance, and that probably caused more people to swing Trump’s way than I think any of us would have liked.

(That’s not just an indictment of Democrats; it’s an indictment of Republicans, too. Trump won the Republican candidacy the same way he won the Presidency, and the Republican establishment did the same thing that the Democrat establishment did… and lost the same way, too.)

The failure to beat Trump was not only a failure in 2016; it was a failure in 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992… it goes back decades, because we haven’t done a good job of teaching our own people what values to, well, value. We’ve taught our kids to value spectacle, and what Trump gives us is, indeed, spectacle.

Thus, he’s like Bill Clinton, another presidency that history will smile upon; Clinton showed us (among other things) a model of ourselves in how we treat women as a culture (and laid the groundwork for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump, too.)

I don’t think we liked that model of ourselves- we definitely shouldn’t have. We elected someone who used his power for his own gratification. That’s our mirror from 1992 to 2000.

Hopefully we came away thinking to ourselves, “wait a minute… women are people, too.” (Was that ever a question? … unfortunately, yes. It was a question. We’ve gotten better about that, I think. We’re not Saudi Arabia, nor have we ever been, I hope.)

But as I write this, maybe Trump’s evidence that Clinton’s presidency showed us less about ourselves than I might have liked… or maybe we just refused to see it. Maybe Trump is the American people doubling down on the idea that character doesn’t matter…

And yes, being ever hopeful, I will say that I pray that we, as a people, look at what we’ve done, at what we’ve identified as a primary and central representative of ourselves, and say “… ew. We can do better than this.”