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For a moment, let’s forget everything we know (and let’s definitely forget everything we DON’T know) about the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Let’s forget the people chosen to be cabinet members of this administration. Let’s forget the inane and sometimes seriously flawed tweets, the blatant attacks against the press, the awkward meetings with heads of state that are our allies, the inexplicable meetings with heads of state that are our adversaries, the policies that clearly are not in the spirit of our country. Let’s forget the maxims and slogans that are meaningless, let’s not think about the continual weekends away from DC, the lack of knowledge of basic geography, basic diplomacy, basic government policy, or the revolving door of White House staffers that is spinning like a merry-go-round powered by a warp drive engine. Forget. It. All.

We are left with Number Forty-Five. And without all of the negative banter, the attempts to control everything around him, the continual contradictory statements, the constant demands for loyalty, we can now clearly see one fact that is crystal clear:

Donald J. Trump is a terrible president.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, if you’re a supporter of Trump. You’re thinking, this is another “libtard,” “sore loser” commentary coming from a “snowflake” about how you “can’t get over” the fact that he “beat” Hillary and you just won’t shut up and let him “run the country” the way he wants. You’re also probably thinking that “this kind of commentary” is “dividing the country” and that we “can’t move forward” if you aren’t willing to accept “President Trump” for what he is, the guy who is going to “Make America Great Again.”

But, here’s the crux of the issue when we are talking about Trump’s presidency to date. During the election, people are generally divided along party lines: Democrats and Republicans mostly, though certainly Libertarians and Independents were heard from as well. However, when the election is over, the winner must become President of the United States, not President of the People Who Voted For Him.

The problem isn’t that Liberals are “cry babies,” it’s that the President has chosen to ignore anyone who doesn’t agree with his policies and rhetoric. In other words, he is still playing to his base and ignoring everybody who isn’t already in his camp.

Donald Trump candidly admitted that he really didn’t know or understand what being President was all about before he started to run for the office. That’s usually a dangerous indicator, especially in a job that has so many moving parts and is so very important for both the image of our country with the rest of the world (as the most visible representation of the nation, POTUS is the filter through which the rest of the citizenry is viewed by people in other locales). But, it’s also a problem for those that live here. The policies, the concepts, the elements of knowing what to do are crucial in maintaining a sense of control, of steadiness, of caring, of expertise.

The issue is Trump has never stopped being the Republican Nominee. Everything he has planned, everything he has said, everything he has done was to the liking of the GOP, and nothing of any kind to even attempt to reach out to the Democrats, who, despite all of the conservative talk suggesting otherwise, are still intelligent minded citizens of this country.

Again, this is a demonstration of how little Mr. Trump knows about how government works. Those people that didn’t vote for him are not expected to suddenly be supportive of everything the president says and does, just because he took the oath of office. It is up to him to reach out in word and deed and act like he cares about the entirety of the country.

That’s why there are constant outcries from the liberal side of things over just about everything Trump is doing. When we say “He’s Not My President,” that’s really because of what the man, himself, is saying or trying to accomplish. The phrase, more accurately stated, is “He’s Not BEING My President.”

Every candidate has to pivot, at least a little bit, toward the center when they become the president, if they intend to include all citizens. And the president really must include all citizens if that person intends to govern properly. There is no way around it. President Obama did not dismantle the NRA or hand out Reparations to African American families, as many conservative commenters all over the internet were anxious about during his tenure in office. In fact, President Obama had a rather moderate term, not doing anything so far left it would create some angered response from conservatives. But then again, for most of Obama’s term, he had a Republican Congress to deal with, and they were not about to give him any bills that he actually wanted to sign.

When you look at everything that Donald Trump wants to do, it slams Democrats/Liberals in a way that makes them seem like he views them as “the enemy.” While that might delight everyone who voted GOP, who are still pushing the partisan agenda, who are still trying to trash and bash Hillary, that does not endear him to the rest of the nation who are feeling as if this is turning into a game of “Keep Away.” And the fact that this seems like it’s being treated like a game itself is problematic.

Worse yet, The Donald was partially responsible for the atmosphere that we are currently in: as his suggestion that Barack Obama perhaps was not born on United States soil meant that maybe he should not be the president at all, and that maybe all of the bills he signed into law should be considered void. With his constant comments and calls for President Obama’s Birth Certificate, Trump definitely helped to divide the nation and to became the darling of conservative commentators around the country, eventually leading to his candidacy, the Anti-Obama crusader.

And conservative commentators also make a mint from tapping into a portion of the population all too eager to hear and believe what they are saying. People using political speak for personal gain don’t understand how that creates a rift in the country because they remain unaffected. They won’t be harmed by the policies this administration pushes forward, so to them, it’s that previously referred to game, a chance to whip up the ire of their viewers or listeners for clickbait on websites or commercial sponsors on TV or radio programming. Ka-ching.

During President Obama’s time in office, we know that a small group of Republicans broke off and formed what they called the “Tea Party,” an offshoot of the GOP that was determined to undermine President Obama at every possible opportunity. And this group grew and blossomed, just like a weed, feeding off of other disgruntled conservatives, spouting negative commentary and just like Breitbart, which also began as a website around that same time, wanted to do as much as they could to characterize Obama as being a negative influence on the country and to rally support for all things conservative.

When Donald Trump took the oath of office, it was time for The Closer to take over. Just one problem: being POTUS is not the same as running a corporation. You don’t get to boss everyone around and do things your own way. You don’t get to act unilaterally. And as Trump himself should have known, just from his own constant tweets about Barack Obama, you don’t get to avoid criticism from the people who do not agree with your policies and decisions.

But all of these things are being used as reasons why he hasn’t accomplished more of his agenda, this though he has a friendly Congress, a conservative Supreme Court and pens aplenty to sign his Executive Orders.

Still, Trump remains unapologetic in his complete and utter disregard for anyone that was not a supporter of his during the election and seems intent on working exclusively for those that were. Certainly, his appointment to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, is a blatant example of that. Where Barack Obama nominated a slightly right leaning judge, Merrick Garland, a person most Republicans suggested would be a good or at least reasonable selection to their liking, Trump’s appointment was as far right as possible, again, supporting his base and thumbing his nose at the left.

The hate is the element that overwhelms – hate of the party that does something different from what you like. While conservatives may be inconvenienced by policies introduced by liberals, more taxes, programs that benefit other groups, liberals are often threatened directly by policies introduced by conservatives: defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing laws permitting gay people to marry as a couple of examples that may do legitimate harm to people, either through economics or the appearance of segmenting our country into groups that deserve fair treatment and others who do not.

Ultimately, the President of the United States is there to set a tone, to frame some parameters. POTUS helps to point out what is important, what we should be thinking about. The president is like a scoutmaster, constantly showing us what we need to do, and what we need to avoid. Unless he's so self-interested that you don't know what that is.

If there is any positive from Trump’s presidency, it’s that people are starting to come together and organize. Indivisible, a group created specifically to fight against the policies and agendas that Trump has been pushing has been slowly gathering support since the election and now numbers nearly six thousand separate affiliate organizations across the country. Their website is chock full of information about contacting local representatives, how to set up peaceful protests and has information about events, news about successes achieved through these grass roots efforts and updates you with info about bills up for debate that can have an impact on your local legislatures among a very extensive list of useful facts. It is worth a bookmark.

The fact is, politicians are here to work for us, not the other way around. And they are here to work for ALL of us, not just the ones with the big bank accounts or the ones that already agree with the people elected. It is up to us, the constituents, to hold their feet to the fire and make sure they do what we want, because that is their role. And if they don’t perform their role properly, it is up to us, the constituents, to vote them out of office, because that is our role.

The 2018 Midterm elections are fifteen months away.

//

This thinkpost was written for LJ Idol using the prompt: Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
murielle
Aug. 9th, 2017 12:58 am (UTC)
A beautifully written and structured argument. Brava!
penpusher
Aug. 9th, 2017 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! Yet another piece I wish I wasn't compelled to write.
i_17bingo
Aug. 10th, 2017 01:02 pm (UTC)
I remember how, in 2001, George W. Bush disregarded the left in every way, but he wasn't hostile about it. Condescending, yes, but not as mean (Dick Cheney was mean, though).
penpusher
Aug. 10th, 2017 04:24 pm (UTC)
That's a cogent point. I started looking back at the essays I wrote about Dubya and there are definitely similar passages in there that I could have cut and pasted! But I think the difference is that GWB had governed so he knew how to be a bit less obvious with his disdain. This is why we don't have people who have never previously served becoming president!

But also, Dub had been around DC thanks to Dad, so there was a familiarity about everything. His learning curve wasn't as steep. Cheney definitely was the heavy in that scene.

Another part is the fact Trump is a classic textbook case narcissist, which makes him especially dangerous when it comes to being told he is wrong or being told... anything.

Thanks for reading and for your remembrances about what seems like a much happier, much more stable time in American Politics.
messygorgeous
Aug. 10th, 2017 03:52 pm (UTC)
To use an expression from my 13 year old daughter..."Same."

He is a terrible president and a terrible human being. His vile prejudices allowed all the barely repressed hatred still roiling about in this country to well to the surface again. Maybe I should thank the man for yanking off my naive veil. I thought things were getting BETTER in America. Survey says...not so damn much.
penpusher
Aug. 10th, 2017 04:35 pm (UTC)
I'm certain that the elements of racism and sexism had just as much to do with the election of Trump as anything any Russians did: Racism because of the desire to have someone to undo everything Barack Obama was responsible for, The Paris Accord and ACA being at the top of that list. But I still say that since we haven't yet properly discussed sexism as the serious issue it is, we didn't address people's misgivings about a woman as our president. This was never handled and was barely addressed by Hillary's campaign and that was a huge mistake. It's not like she could have taught people about sexism in the short span of that year leading up to the election, but she could have made it clear how she was capable and prepared, much more than her opponent, to do all of the jobs that a president is responsible for doing.

These problems are systemic, there long before Trump was on the scene. They have been baked into the crust of the American Pie, so much so, that you sometimes don't even taste the flavor for all the stuff covering it up. It's going to take time and effort to root out these issues, to examine and talk about what they do and how we need to dismantle them. Perhaps some conversations will finally begin, now.

Thanks very much for reading and sharing your thoughts about it.
halfshellvenus
Aug. 10th, 2017 10:07 pm (UTC)
but she could have made it clear how she was capable and prepared, much more than her opponent, to do all of the jobs that a president is responsible for doing.
This is one of the saddest things, really, because she was all of those things-- had been for years and years-- and she knew it and her base knew it.

We were all naive to think that she didn't need to hammer the point home constantly for fear the "presumption of competence" bias would blind a significant group of people to the fact the she was super-qualified and Trump was dangerously UNqualified. :(

I think much of the current state is sadly unsurprising, given that Trump is a narcissist and also an idiot. Many of the people who elected him were too foolish to realize that Obamacare and the ACA were the same thing, and since reality has dawned, they are very much NOT in favor of having the ACA stripped away. But Trump hasn't caught onto that. Some of the other Republicans in Congress have adjusted their thinking, but he is entrenched in his original perception. He either is unaware that the tide has shifted, or refuses to acknowledge it-- both reasons why even parts of his base are at odds with him.

You hit the nail on the head with him being one of the major causes of of the current climate of divisiveness, though.

I keep hoping that what we learn from this is that many voters just really aren't that bright, and if you fail to get your point across to them, they'll grab at whatever sounds like what they want to hear-- even if it's unfeasible or a terribly bad idea. Even if it's based on hitting the buzzwords rather than substance.

And this goes both ways, really-- my B-I-L was starting to get all worked up last weekend about how Bernie could SAVE US ALL in 2020, and just... no, dude. It was never going to happen. It STILL isn't. Gah.
penpusher
Aug. 11th, 2017 02:26 am (UTC)
We know that sexism played a major part in the election. We absolutely know it and we can prove it. The easiest way to know if sexism played a part is by seeing if the same standards are being used to judge both candidates. While criticism flung at Hillary may seem fair and reasonable during the campaign, the same high standards of criticism was, in no way, used to measure Trump. Clearly, that played a major part in the view of how the candidates were assessed, and Hillary never quite contradicted those criticisms and never counteracted the constant "Crooked Hillary" comments Trump continually used. She thought she was taking the high road, when perhaps voters thought she had no retort.

We are still dealing with a country that has not addressed these social issues: sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia... and if we have not addressed those things, those things will affect the thinking of the nation as a whole, can affect an important election and create a circumstance where someone who has no business being the president suddenly is.

I really have no clue as to who *might* be a Democratic challenger. Some people are saying New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, but I don't think so. We need the standard white male candidate, probably from the Midwest, because anything that might be perceived as falling into the above mentioned areas we haven't properly discussed could create a serious problem, and we don't need more serious problems now.

Does this mean I'm endorsing Al Franken? Stay tuned! Meanwhile, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your personal reflections on this.
halfshellvenus
Aug. 11th, 2017 04:17 am (UTC)
I am ALL ABOUT Cory Booker for the next challenger!

What it must be is someone who has charisma. That is the persuasive extra "something" that sways the people who flop over to the Republican candidate when the Democrats back the competent-but-unexciting choice.

Witness Bill Clinton and Obama. Both energetic and persuasive, rather than the Dukakis and Gore school of "Do the grown-up, smart thing!" Which people don't do, because that has no appeal to them and it feels like a pandering appeal from elitists, which they hate.

I.e., the psychology of politics rather than the intellect.
penpusher
Aug. 11th, 2017 06:05 am (UTC)
While I agree with the assessment, I feel Franken has the ability to be both down to earth and charismatic. He just needs a bit of coaxing to get back to the show biz side of his personality, which I think he was intentionally squelching to this point because he was worried that his fellow Senators might not take him seriously. My issue with Booker is as a return to Obama, and I don't know that this is the moment for that. I guess a lot depends on how everything progresses from where we are now into where we'll be in say Winter 2019...
marlawentmad
Aug. 11th, 2017 12:32 pm (UTC)

Thank you for writing this piece for all of us who just don't have the heart space to write our own.

penpusher
Aug. 11th, 2017 01:45 pm (UTC)
And thank you for stomaching the reading of it... this was what instantly came to mind for me when I saw the prompt. I do have to say that there is encouragement on that Indivisible site. It's like a Democratic "Tea Party," only it's already much bigger than the Republican version ever was.

My main worry this week is that Trump will start a limited Nuclear War* with North Korea as a method of stopping/deflecting the Russia investigation. While that seems crazy, it doesn't even seem unlikely. That's where we are with this president. Most Americans don't even know where Guam is. Certainly Trump fell into that category! It's a small sacrifice to pay for bringing the investigation into Russia's role in the election and Trump's financial dealings with that country to a swift conclusion, and to guarantee a successful re-election bid.

*Not that a "limited nuclear war" is an actual thing.
beeker121
Aug. 11th, 2017 11:32 pm (UTC)
The thing that made me understand Trump was a sentence in John Scalzi's blog during primaries - that he didn't want to be the President, he wanted to win the Presidency. Looked at from that (very sorry, sad, and unacceptable) viewpoint the things he has done and continues to do make a twisted kind of sense. I have trouble with the fact that anyone believed he could do this job, but he sure could sell the idea that he could and in today's world that matters.

Many of our institutions move slowly, on purpose, to make sure that a momentary dislike isn't cemented forever. But his ethical issues alone should have him booted out.

Thank you for managing to make a coherent and compelling essay out of the similar ideas in my brain that mostly come out as growling.
penpusher
Aug. 12th, 2017 12:38 am (UTC)
The problem with a textbook case narcissist is that there is nothing you can tell him that will get him to listen. He will always find some loophole, some excuse or some reason to believe that he is right and he is perfect and that everyone else is wrong or doesn't see it.

It was a logical progression that lead to Trump. First, Barack Obama put some sanctions in place for Wall Street to prevent them from using banks to make risky bets with people's money. I don't KNOW, but I would guess that Trump was making some good money from those sorts of transactions and so a big source of his income came from that kind of risky action. That's why he started with the "birther" issue because if he could "prove" that Obama wasn't born in the US, he could, theoretically, have those sanctions against Wall Street overturned and he could go back to his sketchy money making processes.

But it also endeared Trump to the people who just hated Obama, which supported his commentary because of their own issues. The rest we saw play out in the election.

It makes sense that he "wanted to win the presidency" because he wanted to control the elements that could help him become more wealthy, which also speaks to the fact that he refused to divest from his businesses. All the rest of the stuff that came along with that? He neither seemed to know or care about. And that's to the detriment of the nation.

Thank you for a really wonderful compliment.
swirlsofblue
Aug. 13th, 2017 08:46 am (UTC)
Many great points, well made. I like the way you gave comparisons with what Obama did to consider the whole country, it really provides a good contrast.
penpusher
Aug. 13th, 2017 02:46 pm (UTC)
It feels like this is an essay that will never end, as every day there is something new... like Charlottesville. It's unbelievable what has been happening and I don't know what else there is to say. I know the hate never went away during Obama's term. I just feel like we have a tsunami of hate coming on and even I am not quite prepared for it. Thank you for reading and for a very kind word.
flipflop_diva
Aug. 13th, 2017 04:09 pm (UTC)
I don't have much to say beyond I agree with pretty much everything you've written here. And i really think you've hit the nail on the head, so to speak, in your summation that he's not even trying to be a president to everyone. I feel like that's a lot of the reason his diehard supporters are so caught up in 'winning'. It's like they didn't want a president either, but just someone from 'their side' to win, and it's so disheartening.

The only good thing, I think, is the amount of people now paying attention and starting to fight back. It's a long, horrible road right now, but as the saying goes, it's darkest before the dawn, so I try to believe that things can change, even if it takes a lot of time.
penpusher
Aug. 13th, 2017 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading and sharing your view.

It absolutely is an Us v. Them circumstance that was perpetrated from places like Breitbart and Fox News. They earn money from the hate. With Charlottesville happening, the one thing I'm sure of is that Trump will never fully denounce the actions of the so-called alt-right. They were his staunchest supporters during the campaign, and he always remains loyal to those who remain loyal to him. Under these conditions, there really are very limited ways the story could go, with almost none of them allowing minorities to move forward, unscathed. I just don't see any way of handling any of this with any tact or concern for the people most threatened, certainly not by this president.

Indivisible really is a good place to start with the fighting back. It's really up to us now, to vote with our money, with our energy, with our support for the people who need it. If the people in charge won't speak up, we have to bide our time and then replace them with people who will do what's right...
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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