I have been a conservative Republican my entire life. I was born in 1977, a few months after Jimmy Carter took office, but the first president I was aware of was Ronald Wilson Reagan. Even as a small child, I was mesmerized by his Oval Office addresses, State of the Union speeches, and…him. He was The President. He was My President. He carried himself with dignity. He shrugged off criticism with a smile. He battled hardened politicians like Tip O’Neill, often won, and then called them to say, essentially, “That was a good fight. No hard feelings.” Being a former governor of the largest state in America (California), he understood the role of government and the rights of the states. He had two clearly defined objectives: make income taxes as low as possible and end the Soviet Union forever. Both were accomplished by the time he left office in 1989.
So, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency, I was stunned. There was nothing about Donald Trump’s life that made me think he could be the leader of the free world. When the Republican debates started, my thoughts were confirmed over and over again. He never demonstrated that he understood the complexity of government. When trapped in his many contradictions and half-truths, he resorted to playground insults. His ultimate joy came from the adoration of the masses. Once he was (somehow) elected, his deficiencies came into full bloom. Almost a year into his presidency, here is what I have seen from Donald John Trump:
- A complete lack of humility. All great leaders (and presidents) are fully aware of the scope of their job. It’s overwhelming. While we don’t need or want a president who cowers in fear, we do need and want one who knows that each speech, sentence, and even word will echo in eternity. President Trump speaks as if he has no idea that historians are writing down what he says. His Twitter page is full of snide remarks, vague policy choices, and–more than anything else–a disdain for those who dare object to him. Which leads me to…
- A childish ego. On the playground, when one child insults another, the insulted child might say, “Oh yeah, well my Dad can beat up your Dad!” The relative strength of each child’s father is not in question, but in order to save face, the insulted child must change the subject just to get a dig on his opponent. Again, this is what children do. But–unfortunately–this is also the modus operandi of our current president. He acts like he is the first Republican (and I use that term loosely for Trump–I’ll get to that in a minute) president that the media despised. He can’t handle negative headlines. It is clear from his Twitter feed that he watches “Fox and Friends,” a conservative morning show, every morning. He needs a puff of smoke to shoot up his skirt so he can face a new day. It’s his espresso. If he reads or hears opposition, he resorts to name-calling and personal attacks. You don’t have to be an Ivy League trained psychologist to diagnose his problem: He has rarely ever heard the word “no” in his life, so his skin is tissue paper thin, which is not what you want from the leader of the free world.
- He has no idea what it means to be a conservative Republican. President Trump had never been elected to anything in his life prior to becoming president, so he had no history of policy-making and policy-implementing. All we knew about his ideology came from what he said during the campaign. What did we hear? Populism masquerading as conservatism. There is no set of beliefs with populism. If you think a certain crowd is bigger than the other crowd, you say what the bigger crowd wants to hear, and you’ll get elected. It’s that simple. Since President Trump’s ego longs to hear the roar of the crowd (after all, he put his name in large letters on anything he built as a businessman), he gave the people what they wanted. He talked about building a wall on the Mexican border that Mexico would pay for. (It’s not a bloated government program if another country pays for it, right?). He talked about doing religious tests for Middle Eastern immigrants. He talked about high tariffs on foreign goods (which is a policy that was partly responsible for the Great Depression, but when you don’t know history…). He wanted to tear up the Iranian deal Obama made. He wanted to repeal and replace Obamacare. Do you see a theme here? President Trump basically said, “Everybody is out to get you. The Iranians, the Mexicans, the insurance companies, everybody. Your life stinks because everybody else makes it stink. Make America Great Again!” That theme is not conservative. It’s liberal. Liberals are always blaming The System, The Man, The White Man, The Religious Person, etc. Conservatives preach personal responsibility. If the tide turns, make adjustments. Chart your own course. President Trump preached “Blame! Blame! Blame!…and believe everything I say!” This theme also brought the crazies out of the woodwork. “Make America Great Again” has been a mantra of the white supremacists for decades. They’ve always wanted to go back to better times…when whites were 90 percent of the population, when blacks and other minorities were subjugated, and so on. When President Trump spoke their language, they ran to his side. His message was not about the future (which is what Reagan focused on), but about the past. So since his election, we have seen violent demonstrations concerning racial issues.
It’s been one year since the election. There is no wall or any design for one. Republican legislators who won by large majorities in red states are deserting him. The latest Kim Jong in North Korea is as dangerous as ever. And the President’s disapproval rating is near 60 percent. Maybe one day we’ll elect an intelligent, articulate, conservative Republican who can talk about what makes America the freest nation on earth. But until then, we’ll have to tolerate the current occupier of the Oval Office–Agent Orange.