So I find myself both obsessing over and demonizing Donald Trump in what I fear is a self-defeating and mentally unhealthy way. What is it about this individual that forces me to reflect deeply upon what my experience and intellect has taught me all these years about what is righteous and good? Maybe it is simply a function of aging, maybe it is only natural to enter a phase of your life where you start to question things that you had seemingly settled upon at an earlier age?
I often find myself now questioning whether I, too, have become an unwitting pawn in a larger system that finds great comfort in the status quo. I recall the days when I too felt the need to seriously distrust all that was labeled conventional wisdom. Have I become what we not so affectionately referred to as the man, the system, the establishment?
A progressive in political orientation I do not consider myself overly partisan, although I can rationalize why the Democratic Party offers a clearer and more constructive approach to solving the problems facing mankind than the Republican Party. However, I have never shied away from challenging Democratic leaders when I felt they were not sufficiently living up to the standards I expect. So I was critical of Obama’s abandonment of the public option and his all of the above strategy on climate change that allowed the perpetuation of fossil fuel extraction.
The most debilitating and destructive attribute of our current President, though, is the absence of ideology and or anything resembling a moral compass.
I think the most debilitating and destructive attribute of our current President, though, is the absence of ideology and or anything resembling a moral compass. A failure to abide by a core set of ideals, such as equality of opportunity, or morals, such as fairness and compassion can skew formulation of public policies intended to help the most vulnerable in society.
Equally as problematic, however, is the degree to which bluster and saber-rattling are used as tactics to resolve delicate diplomatic crises. Tactics in the absence of an end game strategy is dangerous. While intellect in itself is not necessarily an adequate measure of ability, a lack of intellectual curiosity reflects an inability to grow and advance and this I find immensely troubling.
My experience in public policy, government, and politics has taught me a great deal about the importance of building on top of a stable foundation. Trump’s recent forays into the core construct of our governmental structure—questioning the value of a vibrant checks and balances equation outlined by our Founding Fathers—is puzzling. I have argued for decades that our representative democratic system is first and foremost premised on the notion of compromise. Yet his penchant for authoritarian worship and his incessant hostility towards institutions such as the judiciary and the media raise disturbing questions over his commitment to the Constitution.
Given the pathetic performance of this administration in the first 100 days I am fearful that virtually anything that seems remotely sensible will be viewed as a seminal leap in the evolution of the man himself. Of course his uncontrollable resort to tweeting shortens the shelf life of such thinking, if that is any consolation.
The peripatetic nature of the man and the administration coupled with the endless shifting of positions on issues creates such a chaotic policy and political environment that it is difficult to focus on anything in depth. Hence we are constantly riding a bucking bronco violently veering from one direction to the other.
In business bankruptcy has saved many individuals and companies from disastrous decisions. In politics disastrous decisions can mean the difference between war and peace, life and death. It is critical that we not either trivialize tough decisions or overstate easy ones.
Yes Mr. President, tough decisions are hard and the toughest decisions are your responsibility. You wanted this job, either do it or leave it to others who are capable of handling it. The honeymoon is over; it only gets harder going forward.