My personal perspectives on Trump’s first full day in the White House.
I really didn’t know how I would feel today, in large part because before now I didn’t even want to think about it. The morning started dark and cloudy with a cold, drizzling rain falling beyond my home office window among the oaks and maples which have been since long stripped bare of their leaves. The scene matched my mood. However, by mid-morning the clouds had cleared leaving sunlight streaming in at a low winter angle, brightly illuminating Southern side of trees and other objects it struck, leaving dark shadows elsewhere. I love the stark contrasts created on a bright winter day, and my mood brightened somewhat.
However, for me, like for so many people around the country, reality still had to be faced. Last night Donald J. Trump slept in the White House for the first of many nights to come. Barack Obama, instead of bearing the burdens of the Presidency with his usual quiet dignity was playing golf in Palm Springs on the first day of post Presidential vacation, never to return to the Presidential mansion except to visit.
I felt that the world had shifted under me. The man tens of millions of Americans deemed to be unfit to be Commander-in-Chief now holds the most powerful job in the world. The man that has perplexed, worried, and even attacked our global allies and who has embraced our most determined enemies now has the responsibility for foreign policy. The man and his party who have vowed to up end our health care system, frightening tens of millions of Americans, now have the power to do so. An egotistical narcissist with the thinnest of skins is now in possession of the nuclear codes. No, it wasn’t a good day, but on further reflection it was not without hope.
With his 40% favorability rating, Trump, who lost the popular vote by almost three million ballots, is far and away the least popular person to move into the White House in the modern era. He is very likely to fail to keep many of the outrageous promises he made during his campaign which could even demoralize the minority of Americans who are his greatest supporters. He promised to greatly increase the number of available jobs when the nation is at long last close to enjoying full employment. He promised to bring back manufacturing jobs at a time when automation is eliminating those jobs much faster than they can possibly be replaced. His promise to provide health insurance to all while he and Congress repeal and “replace” Obamacare puzzles and angers his Congressional allies whose plans would lower health insurance coverage while they pursue their goals of decreasing government costs and government involvement in the health care system. The entire enterprise is extremely risky politically.
Meanwhile, on his first day as President he insulted the high office he holds by sending his press secretary to lie to White House reporters during his administration’s first official press briefing. Trump also tweeted out insults at the media because they dared to report the truth about the small size of his inauguration crowd. Later in the day Trump gave a rambling, disjointed speech which was supposed to allay the concerns of our intelligence professionals after he spent the last couple of months attacking their work and accusing them being behind a “Nazi-like smear campaign” against him.
He also accused former CIA Director John Brennan of being the leaker of “Fake News”. He also again complained that the media had lied about the size of the crowd witnessing his swearing in ceremony and (falsely) claimed that the Almighty had controlled the rain for him during his inauguration speech. And oh, we shouldn’t forget that he again reminded us of how smart he is. Any hope that the responsibilities of his office would cause Trump to divert his attention to serious issues and cause him to grow personally to meet Americans’ expectations of their President has now been lost. Donald Trump is apparently incapable of positive change.
I would normally view all of these things negatively in light of the future prospects for our country. However, perhaps selfishly, they give me hope because they decrease Trump’s effectiveness and make him less likely to achieve the goals that he has set forth which I know are not in the best interest of this nation and its people. This is the great dichotomy of my recent thought processes – I want our country to succeed, but I want our new President to fail. I’m not at all sure that both are possible in the same time frame.
My day grew considerably brighter when I viewed CNN’s coverage of the Women’s March on Washington. The huge crowds of protesters expanded to fill major thoroughfares well beyond the designated parade route and far exceeded even the organizer’s best expectations. The fact that the number of protestors in Washington far outnumbered the crowds that Trump drew to his inauguration can not be ignored by anyone living in the real world, which may or may not include Trump, his Republican allies, and his biggest supporters.
When coupled with the over two million people who participated in sister marches held in most major American cities and in 60 countries around the world, the Washington march sent a loud message which even the tone deaf Congressional Republicans cannot afford to ignore; not only are the Trump administration and their legislative plans huge concerns for millions of people, those people are ready to fight for the rights every segment of our society that Trump and Congressional Republicans might target.
Trump and his allies are counting on the marches being one time events which allowed the marchers to blow off steam and get it out of their systems, after which they hopefully will return to the complacency and/or the infighting usually typical of their opponents. We can’t let that happen!
We must use the women’s marches as an accelerant to build the flames of protest. Most of all we must unite behind our shared objectives. We can no longer afford to fight among our selves. We can no longer afford to denigrate other Democrats and progressives. We can no longer afford to put down our allies because they are “too liberal” or “not progressive enough”. Most of all we can no longer afford to pick our favorite candidates and seek to disqualify their opponents in the eyes of others. Such tactics are self defeating, keeping all of us from being able to support our ultimate nominees for public office with total enthusiasm. We must banish such tactics to our past if we are to effectively confront and ultimately defeat a much bigger evil.
At the conclusion of Trump’s first full day in office, it raining again, but I no longer feel glum and defeated. I am certainly not happy; the days ahead will be far from easy. However, I am cautiously optimistic that we can band together and ultimately prevail, but only we can avoid the twin opposite enemies of political success – apathy and fighting among ourselves.