So many times these last three years I waited for uniting, encouraging words over tragedies and challenges, not unmeasured rallying. Deaths of respected leaders used to be mourned, putting aside political differences for the healing of a nation. When challenged or attacked, a real leader wouldn’t use kindergarten rebuttals. They would often ignore it because it was beneath them to respond. Unlike the demagogues of lesser regimes, our leaders are called to carefully present themselves and their message at all times with measured restraint and thoughtfulness, not pander to their base at the expense of respect and tolerance for other views.
I miss statesmanship. Even the presidents I did not support had it. It wasn’t always sincere, but they are expected to play that role for the sake of America.
For the first time in my life, it’s just not there — at all. Many knew this going in, and didn’t care or, like myself, didn’t think it was obligatory. We could simply be embarrassed for a few years across the globe. It wouldn’t be the first time. But now we have half the nation morally drunk — uncaring, haughty with questionable self-righteousness, all because our dislikes of our fellow man have been given permission to run free, our prejudices unfettered, even justified by the thinnest of rationalizations. We are rallying around a single point for things we would have otherwise kept to ourselves or curbed our passions about.
I was never one to think much of the presidency in terms of a figurehead, but now I get it. That sort of power transcends constitutional restraints. And we embrace it. The captain of the ship is asleep in the storm, living in a dream of amorphous nostalgia, and the crew can’t put out fires long enough when a simple call for peace would calm it greatly at any time. With every challenge there is opportunity, and each and every opportunity has been missed. And there have been a LOT of them.
We wanted an outsider, and we got one. But instead of a citizen statesman, we got just someone perfectly suited to become an insider, and just dumb and loudmouthed enough to make the common man feel unintimidated, a man for the people, even if he is a 1% by inheritance. They wanted a figure to embody their love of country, endorsed by a mandate from heaven itself. They created the role and he was glad to fill it. Yet the emperor still has no clothes, and no one seems to care.