I’m increasingly troubled by the slow normalization of Donald Trump on the public stage. It is abundantly clear that the GOP House and Senate have little intention of holding him accountable to acceptable and respectful civic norms.
The administration’s budget proposal is an offense to common decency. The continued pursuit of his personal wealth and that of his family is totally inappropriate and constitutionally questionable. Many of his campaign promises appear to be nothing but slogans with no moral fiber or intention to pursue.
His comments on the world stage show a terrible lack of historical knowledge and American moral leadership. I fully recognize that his supporters feel affronted by the changing social dynamics within American society. Clearly, in the eyes of some of his supporters, they have been dealt a difficult hand with changing workplace expectations, globalization, technology, trade, and some forms of perceived social alienation.
Normalizing his behavior, devaluing its impact, his promoting of social disrespect for one another, rebuking international norms, and fundamental disrespect for American institutions cannot be overlooked. Everyone enjoys putting this on someone else. Either the media is too hard on him or too negative, or refuses to see anything good that he has done. Political leaders shift from total outrage to we need more facts. And, there is no there- there, depending from which point of view the other person or party starts. His attack on the press is unconscionable. Thomas Jefferson wrote; “A press that is free to investigate and criticize the government is absolutely essential in a nation that practices self-government and is therefore dependent on an educated and enlightened citizenry.” Jefferson also knew that with that freedom came grave responsibility to avoid, “lies and scurrilous gossip.” That should be true for Mr. Trump and his allies too.
It is our responsibility, each citizen, to hold this President to the highest levels of civic engagement. A lie is a lie. When he says we are getting there fast we need to ask the destination, who’s foot is on the pedal, and why. He is not protecting Health Care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, American Public Education, or the rights of those not in the majority. One of the most solemn responsibilities of the majority is to protect the minority; to hear the minority, and not to run roughshod over them. We are not the minorities’ parent, but rather a protector of civic engagement. Yes, he won the Electoral College, but he did not win the majority of American voters. It’s a fact. It doesn’t change the outcome, but it also denies him a claim of a mandate for his policies. On one point he is on target; “whoever thought this was so difficult!”
Well, it is! It is difficult to look each other in the eye and with respect for another’s point of view argue yours. It is difficult to read through the volumes of papers and positions and make cogent arguments for your position. It is difficult to stand up against hateful speech when another claims there is just too much political correctness. What about common sense, decency, and respect?
We should not normalize the abnormal. To do the most good, as citizens we must marshal the courage to challenge power when necessary. It’s necessary, now!