My wife has some strong opinions about things, and some of them she raises over and over again. One (of the many) with which I agree is that trust plays a fundamental role in how we feel about our leaders. We trust some leaders, and we don’t trust others. If we trust a leader, we assume that some action is legitimately justified. If we don’t trust a leader, that same action can be nefarious or a sign of incompetence. I’ll come back to something more contemporary in a minute, but let’s start with Obama and Bush.
I don’t know why, but I’m still trying to view the Trump administration through rational eyes. Perhaps there are several versions of rational. There really shouldn’t be, but maybe what I think is rational isn’t actually rational. I am saddened by what I see as missed opportunities (see here and here), but I’m starting to accept the fact that it’s never going to happen. I’m starting to accept the fact that we all have things that motivate us, and I think what motivates Trump has more to do with celebrity than anything else. That’s not inconsistent with doing good things for the country, but I’m not convinced that it’s what drives him. I can imagine that he can convince himself that it’s driving him, but I think deep down the things that he embraces are things that feed his celebrity status. I should be clear that I’m not saying that there’s no concern for others in that. I think he enjoys entertaining people. I think he likes it when they’re excited to see him. I think he thrives on that. There’s a level of admirable selflessness in that. Like the comic who stands on stage making fun of himself to make you laugh. On the other hand, it leads to some pretty strange moments when the President of the United States acts that way.
“The economy, stupid!” The phrase made famous by James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton. Amazingly effective, and at a time when the US was in a recession. The past election cycle used the sentiment in some ways. The Trump campaign and his inauguration speech painted a very dystopian view of America. There was talk about our crumbling factories and our crime-infested cities. Couple that with prevailing views that our economy is doing poorly (something I touched on before, when I wrote about the disconnect between the way the public perceived us to be in a recession, when were actually weren’t in a recession), and it was almost a “the economy, stupid” election.
This all depended on how we saw the world, and likely which media outlets we viewed (something else I wrote about before).
But let’s look at some numbers, and think about what could come next. To do this, I’m going to steal some text from something I posted on Facebook this morning.
The day is here. President-Elect Trump will become President Trump, and President Obama’s time in office will end. I honestly do not know which makes me more sad. The Obama administration has not been perfect, but they’ve done a pretty great job with lots of things. Perhaps one of their biggest failures was not being able to garner the recognition for many of the things they did. The rise of the right-leaning blogs, and websites like World Net Daily and Breitbart didn’t make that task any easier, but irrespective of the reasons, it was undoubtedly a problem.
The Obama administration oversaw some amazing things, many of them cultural, and it seems clear that the election of Trump was a push back against that. So, as much as I am sad to see Obama leave office, I am equally sad that voters pushed back against all he has accomplished. But, as much as this day is about that push back, for me it’s a whole lot of nostalgia for a president who I deeply adored, perhaps more than I will adore any other president in my lifetime.