Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reflections from the Inauguration

Reflections from the Inauguration
A great deal has been written already on blogs, in the media, certainly on social media, etc. about the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America yesterday. As Mr. Trump was sworn into office and delivered his first speech as POTUS, the peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next was something to behold. The pomp and circumstance of our politics, with all of the ceremony and symbolism, has always been of interest to me.  

The Media        

         The coverage of this election campaign, and subsequent inauguration, has been disappointing. Mainstream media may have been their own worst enemy in terms of the obvious bias in their reporting. The fact that demonizing the media specifically and journalism more generally says a great deal more about the state of America media than it does about anyone they reported on during this election cycle. In the limited media coverage I have observed over the last 36 hours or so, it would appear that the media are blissfully unaware of how much they contributed to the rise of Mr. Trump and how responsible they are for making his inauguration possible.
         Views about the media are hardening too. How so, you ask? It is becoming easier and easier for the American people, good, hardworking people, to completely ignore mainstream media and instead obtain their news from the plethora of online sources available. That’s not to say that all of those sources are credible and all traditional or mainstream media outlets are dubious. It is simply an acknowledgement of the state of American opinion of the media. I say this is hardening because when one hears children under the age of ten say that everyone knows you can’t trust the news, there really isn’t much more to say.
         Anyway, I do not think this is the fault of the American people. The media elites in this country decided it was more important to be a part of the news rather than simply reporting the facts and letting the people sort them out for themselves. Offering opinion is fine but when that’s all that being served AND it smacks of bias in one direction or the other, I don’t blame many/most people if they ignore it.

Mr. Obama

         The nation twice elected Mr. Obama to the highest office in the land. At the end of his eight years in office, our country is more divided than it has been perhaps in my lifetime. As he leaves office, Mr. Obama might ask the people he served, “are you better off now than you were eight years ago?” The answer largely depends on who is answering the question. Voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin answered “NO” and made the difference during the 2017 Election. Yes, other states contributed but the truth is that Mr. Trump has no chance without the voters of these states buying into his campaign message.
Not only did a great many American feel they were not better off after eight years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, they resoundingly said “no thank you” to four more year of the same that they were being promised. From my point of view, I agree. Under Mr. Obama, Christians were condemned for being, well, Christian. Supporting marriage as defined by God was referred to as being “homophobic” or using “hate speech.” Disagreeing with Mr. Obama was often met with accusations of racism and when that didn’t silence his critics they were branded as “extremists.” Our national politics have been reduced to soundbites and constant attacks covered by journalists who are looking for the next “gotcha” moment that can be used as click bait for some sensational news headline.
Many have already mentioned the Obama’s family life and expressed sentiments I would like to echo, not because I’m looking for something nice to say but because I think it is important. Through these eight years, Mr. Obama and his wife Michelle have modelled for America and the world family. Both clearly adore one another and they obviously don’t mind one bit that everyone knows it. They have managed to remain engaged parents to two beautiful daughters and (more or less) shielded them from the harsh realities of their years growing up in the White House. They modeled putting family first and reminded me of the importance of work-life balance…something I am not always very good at.

Mr. Trump

         I’m not exactly sure if Mr. Trump entered the 2016 Presidential campaign with the belief that he would win though I am rather confident that he did so thinking he could win. From the beginning, he knew he had formidable character challenges to overcome and he provided what historians may eventually conclude was the most important aspect of his election strategy: he was himself. By that I simply mean Mr. Trump did not attempt to be something or someone he was not. He didn’t try to convince the American people he was a paragon of virtue or morals. Quite the opposite, Mr. Trump acknowledged his past and expressed his regrets for the things he genuinely regretted.
         I think from the beginning Mr. Trump’s campaign was one focused on stoking populist fears that others missed when assessing how they would go about seeking the presidency. Mr. Trump clearly saw what professional politicians missed and also intuitively knew how to exploit that opportunity. There were a number of key to Mr. Trump’s victory and people far more qualified than I will offer what are sure to be thorough treatments. I look forward to those being written.
         I do feel qualified to offer an opinion as to why so many evangelical Christians opted to vote for Mr. Trump rather than support a third-party candidate (I have no doubt that there are some who identify themselves as evangelical Christians who voted for Mrs. Clinton though I am equally confident their numbers are rather small).  For some, it was the argument that we were not electing a pastor-in-chief that was enough. For others, it was the lack of a credible alternative. For still others, it was the prospect of liberal appointments to the federal judiciary, particularly the Supreme C0urt, that made the difference. For most, me included, it was a combination of factors that convinced me to cast my ballot for Mr. Trump.

The Future

         The next four years offer a sense of hope for some and a sense of dread for others. I do not believe Mr. Trump is a racists or misogynist or any of the other derogatory labels that some have tried to give him nor do I believe he is the second coming of Ronald Reagan. He is a man who has tremendous confidence in his own abilities and his business acumen to make America a better version of itself. Some have condemned his cabinet selections while others have heaped praise on them. Their effectiveness in office will prove which view of them is deserved. For my part, I suspect it will be much closer to the middle than either side sees today.

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         Mr. Trump’s rise to the presidency did not occur in a bubble. His ascension was made possible by the policies pursued over the last eight years. It would seem enough people were frustrated with the direction of the nation to put someone like Donald J. Trump, with all of the baggage he brings to the presidency, into office. He is not some sort of messiah nor is he some sort of demon. He is simply a man who needs the prayers of a divided nation.