I am NO fan of Donald Trump.
Policy differences aside, I find it impossible to support a President who embodies the petulance, meanness, and lack of self-control we normally see in a spoiled 10-year-old. This is a national figurehead who overtly admires some of the most repressive dictators on the global scene while demonstrating no concern for possible tampering in our free elections. Trump appears to have no interest in learning about the complex issues on which he must decide, possesses no core morality or ideology to anchor his decisions, and demonstrates the attention span of a naughty puppy. Then layer onto that Trump’s apparent belief that government agencies primarily exist to support his own personal agenda (i.e. a Justice Department investigation into who wrote the New York Times op ed) AND what many more knowledgeable people describe as alarming signs of mental instability. To me, this is now beyond the level of national crisis.
But this is NOT just another rant against Trump. Because today I’m thinking about a bigger picture. Years from now, when we return to a period of less division in our country, when Congress actually resumes the job of enacting legislation to benefit citizens, and when Trump is no longer in the White House – what will be the nature of our national discourse? Consider, for a moment, all the doctored images, jokes, and memes we now see daily on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Just search the term “Trump meme” and look at the images.
What has become of that fundamental respect for the office of President, regardless of its occupant? Because I see a level of disrespect now far beyond any kind of political rhetoric or satire I can remember. Think about a giant diapered Trump balloon floating over London. Or the President’s face superimposed on the rear end of a pig. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in simulated sexual poses. Even pencil sharpeners.
It’s personal. It’s ugly. And it’s embarrassing. I for one find it alarming too. Because when Trump is gone, how do we ever get back to a world where political satire and criticism is intelligent, constructive, useful, and adds to the national discourse? Or, are we looking at the new normal?