One year into the Trump presidency, every commentator, journalist and Facebook friend seems to want support for their feelings toward the President, whether positive or negative. If you disagree, you are their enemy. They talk in their own echo chambers, watch their own affirming news channels and discuss current events with their like-minded friends.
After a year of reckless divide and political turbulence, I have one wish: For everyone to get beyond the box-checking nature of politics, listen to each other and recognize we are bigger than our political views about the President.
I did not vote for President Trump, but he was fairly elected under the Constitution and laws of our democracy. I love our nation and our democracy — and I supported the results of the election, even though my candidate didn’t win.
I believe the Russians tried to influence the election as the Chinese did years ago prior to the election of President Clinton. But, as Democratic pollster Mark Penn noted, the relatively minor resources spent by the Russians had no measurable impact on the results, and their work pales in comparison to the billions of dollars spent by the candidates.
The results of last year’s election were clear and incontestable. And President Trump is doing well by many measures we historically use to assess presidents. Employment in America has reached a high, unmatched during any of President Obama’s eight years in office. The economy is strong. The stock market is up dramatically since the election. The President has established personal relationships with many major nations’ leaders, including Canada, China and Poland.
Trump is unconventional. He has a different temperament than his recent predecessors. Consistency, care in choosing words, facts, a focus on national unity and even moral leadership are not Trump’s core strengths. Trump is a New York fighter from the upper echelons of the real estate industry. American voters knew that when they voted for him. And they got exactly whom they elected — he has not changed much since his campaign days.
Still, as President, Trump has done well. He forced a discussion in boardrooms about what ethical obligation a company has to its nation. He has, through the force of his message, created a focus on American jobs. Indeed, this year a record number of Americans were confident in the security of their jobs. He has also given many Americans who feel left behind hope and a voice.
He has hired and surrounds himself with many excellent people. They are not naive ideologues but highly competent patriots, who recognize that they are serving their country, not just their President.
Yet, it seems that most Americans are willfully blind to either Trump’s strengths or to his weaknesses.
There needs to be a different, more complex view. All of us are nuanced. Generally, we mean well and want to do the right thing. But in reality, all of us, including President Trump, are neither perfectly good nor perfectly bad.
With a nuanced perspective, we can stop demonizing those who don’t share our view. I, for one, refrain from taking either side of the pro-Trump/anti-Trump debate. Why can’t we simply refuse to be divided as a nation? Why can’t we as a nation do as we do with our family members and accept that they will not always agree with us, but they’re still part of who we are?
Let’s try to see his virtues as the President and embrace them. Let’s accept his weaknesses and work around them.
After a year of turmoil, let’s shift our focus to areas where we agree. There are many. We all want a better life for our children. We all want a more prosperous nation. We want good jobs. We want better schools. We want our veterans and families to get the support they deserve. We want our nation to lead in innovation. We want our people to be healthy and have health care. We want our seniors to feel comfortable, secure and appreciated. We want every American child to have an opportunity to succeed.
We are blessed to live in an incredible nation — a model of democracy. But our nation is relatively young; we don’t share thousands of years of culture or a common religion, so we are easily torn apart on divisive social issues. What we do share, however, is something special — the gift of living in the greatest nation on Earth. We owe our children a better life — and we can start by refusing to hate and demonize each other.