Where Are We Now?

Much of the news cycle is following two tracks: Trump’s cabinet picks and the big question of “What happened?” in this election. I’ll get to the cabinet picks later, but that second question isn’t going to have a simple answer and we’re going to wrestle with it for a long time to come.

I’ve started to rationalize it this way: We, the American people, no longer respect the office of the presidency. That responsibility falls on all of us regardless of political affiliation. We’re all guilty to an extent for complaining about presidents both past and current. The fact that everyone has cried wolf over and over again about each party’s nominees being horrendous and dangerous choices made it harder to separate out Trump.

The fact remains that millions of people voted for someone inexperienced and unqualified on any number of metrics to take the reins and serve in the highest office in the land. I struggle with that. Trump has no governing experience or diplomatic experience (sorry, negotiating business deals is not the same). He doesn’t appear to know much about the world and does not strike me as the kind of person who is interested in learning. He boasted about not preparing for the debates.

Trump ran a campaign based on hate and discrimination and in elevating him to the presidency, this condoned and approved of his behavior and character. We’re starting to see the repercussions of this already in schools and skyrocketing hate crimes.

We’ll never think of the presidency the same way ever again. There used to be a certain decorum that is now forever lost. You can easily say it had been tarnished along the way, rocked by certain scandals, and there have been inarguably bad presidents, but this is something else entirely and people across the country recognize that. There are protests for a reason. George Carlin once said, “In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.” This might be the first time that it really was an “anyone” that won.

Campaigning has forever been affected as well. Trump said a lot of outrageous things and is now moderating his positions as he approaches his inauguration. I hope we don’t lose sight of what issues he ran on and how he framed them, even if we can let a sigh of relief slip as he tones some of them down. Either way, it’s alarming and we need to hold people accountable for both what they say and do.

Trump’s cabinet choices tell the story of someone woefully unprepared and unapologetic about his views. He selected Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, a man who promotes and encourages white nationalism and anti-semitism through his news organization, Breitbart. As president-elect he is already avoiding the press and continuing to attack the New York Times for reporting on the state of his transition.

I don’t claim to know where any of this leaves us or in what direction we’re heading. Many people I’ve spoken with are also trying to wrap their heads around this and hope for the best but I don’t see many silver linings. In the meantime, speak out, volunteer, and get a subscription to a newspaper.

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