Trump Has Forever Changed the Presidency
The office of the President is a sacred thing. There are few positions in human history, save the papacy, which have exercised more influence over the world at large. Young children from all backgrounds dream of sitting in the oval office, deliberating the fate of nations in austere silence. They spend time in school studying the titans of American history that were Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, they listen to their parents tell them about what Reagan and Clinton were really like, they watch old clips of George Bush standing in the ruins of the twin towers, and see pictures of Obama in the situation room ordering the operation that killed Bin Laden. The President is the spokesperson for the most powerful nation the earth has ever seen, the moral voice that guides this country back to its core principals, the catalyst that pushes it ahead into unexplored territory. The President is not a joke. But this one is.
You’ve heard it a million times — this President is in the news cycle every hour of every day — but President Trump seems to live for undermining the history of and respect for his office. Maybe you agree with his policies, maybe you don’t, but nobody can deny that President Trump has all but obliterated the dignity of a position held by some of the greatest men the world has ever known. The President ought to be decent: he does not hire wife beaters, or assault women, or pay hush money to porn stars, or make fun of the disabled. President Trump is not decent. The President must respect the nation he serves: he does not hire wildly unqualified people just because they are family, he does not attack the families of those who have died for our country, he does not play nuclear games with the lives of millions, he does not turn a blind eye to blatant corruption, or play golf for a quarter of his working days. President Trump does not respect the nation. The President must lead: he does not praise white supremacists, he does not abdicate our position atop the international order, he does not associate with dictators and human rights abusers, nor does he cower to lobbying groups in the face of a national school violence pandemic. President Trump is no leader.
Each President in American history has failed in one of these mandates at some point, but nobody can hold a candle to the total failure of a President that Donald Trump has become. He has managed to force his catastrophe into seemingly every moment of our lives, dominating the news with childish remarks, terrible policy, sex scandals, cruelty, and often downright incompetence. Donald Trump has made the Presidency a dirty word. He has made a joke out of it, not in the lighthearted manner of Obama or Reagan, but such that foreign leaders don’t bother to deal with him and parents must mute the evening news so as not to expose their children.
The Presidency will not be the same after this disaster has left office. The American people will not forget the precedent he has remolded in his own, ludicrous worldview. The Presidency inspires fatigue nowadays, punctuated only by bouts of violent extremism. The Presidency polarizes, it lies, it fails us when we need it most. One can only hope, for the good of the nation, that the man or woman who follows in his dopey footsteps can repair a fraction of what “President” Donald J. Trump has done.