So just last night, the country seemed to be waiting for what was to be President Trump’s first address – to Congress. It felt like everyone was watching, half-expecting (or perhaps two-thirds expecting!) for him to mess up. It would’ve at the very least made for great television.
Then it began. I watched it, unsure myself of what to expect of the man. I knew what I’d been trained to expect and/or look out for. A brash, rather undisciplined man full of exuberance. We didn’t see that. Instead, we saw a calmer, softer-toned and more presidential-looking Trump. I tell you, I was very glad to see that side of him. It was truly about time. The media was no doubt stunned at how well he pulled off the joint session, with pundits labeling it the first time in his five or so weeks in office that he’d managed to look presidential. Some began to argue that he may now be settling into his role. To me, all those opinions were fluff. Fluff, fluff, and nothing but fluff. Let me try to explain by sharing with you my takeaways from that experience and media feedback.
The first thing I noted from all this overnight praise was that people are so easily swayed. In this case, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it stunned me how quickly folks could go from blatant hate of the man (and, get this, his entire family), to words of affirmation about him and his role. The one reason he was being seen as presidential? Because of his public comfort of the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in the president’s first counter-terror raid. Don’t get me wrong; that was a seriously awesome moment, but, I’m still scratching my head. So, that was all it took to turn the tide? To get people to see him anew? This leads me to my next point.
The next thing that I thought about was how nerve-wracking it is to get a job and start in one’s new role. I’ve been in that position quite a few times, as anyone has. We’ve all had to adjust to new roles, hoping to be granted a learning curve, to be allowed to make mistakes, and so on. I’ve noticed in my short life that we haven’t been as gracious to our leaders. Specifically, to our presidents. President Obama was given so much flack and continuous bad “reviews”; yet, by the time he was leaving office eight years later, somehow most people had come to decide that he was waaay better than sliced bread. My point? No one has understood that any new person in a new role, particularly one as daunting as the “leader of the free world”, would need a little bit of grace before s/he can swim elegantly in his or her position. It was certainly weird to have the news media beginning to act a little bit gracious. I had to wonder: so why was all the vitriol necessary from the start? Wasn’t the president’s words at the inauguration also about unifying the country? What about what was said then indicated that he was about increasing hate, etc.?
It forces me to take this subject broader. I often ask myself why we in this country have a dog-pile mob mentality that allows everyone to dump on whoever is the focus of our “hate” at a given time. Why aren’t there enough voices of reason, in those moments, that call for greater patience, grace, and rationality?
Now, I am not necessarily stating that everyone at this point loves Trump. To think that would be incredibly naïve of me. All I hope is that something about last night, something about the entire time the president was at that podium, will cause people to look again at the man. To see him as a human being. Further, that it will cause everyone to look again at themselves. To see the mistakes, the most stupid ones they’ve ever made, and wonder what would happen if those were out on the front page of the news. That each of us would question what right we really have to dog-pile on another human being who, incredibly flawed though he is, might actually be trying to do what he thinks is right for his people.
In sum, all I wonder is whether we can go back to an application of the most basic of rules: to do to others as we would like done to us.