President Donald Trump came into office as a novice politically, something many of his supporters continue to commend him for. He has never before held public office, and that lack of experience has shown during his time as president.
Over the past four years, his lack of previous public service, combined with his lifetime experience as the head of a family business, has resulted in questionable national policy. He has yet to establish any policy beyond building his vaunted wall that Mexico has yet to put one peso towards. He has lambasted the Affordable Care Act repeatedly but offered no plan to replace it. He showed no leadership when COVID-19 appeared — or since.
What he has done is proven to be nothing more than a petulant man-child who acts out whenever he doesn’t get what he wants. He refused to let Joe Biden have his allotted time during the first debate, chose to continue to hold rallies and events despite COVID-19 spreading rapidly through the White House (including himself), and then put lives at risk to appear strong while being treated for the virus.
The past month demonstrates this behavior perfectly (though we could examine any month in his presidency and get the same results). We have both taught high school students and immediately recognized the president’s performance during his first debate with Joe Biden because we’ve both dealt with this type of teenage student before — the one who is unwilling to do the work necessary to be successful in the classroom and then attempts to disrupt the class so much that he (usually) or she must be sent out of the room.
President Trump spent almost the entire night of the first presidential debate interrupting Joe Biden, making it difficult for either of them to bring any policy initiatives to the audience. Perhaps the president couldn’t afford to allow policy into the debate because he is unwilling to do the work necessary to be prepared to discuss policy.
Although the president wants to dominate the headlines and the public’s attention as he did in the first debate, his willingness to assume leadership in critical policy issues has not been evident. Climate change is impacting the U.S. through an increase in forest fires and hurricanes. His administration will argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that will end the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And deaths from COVID-19 have now exceeded 215,000, far more than in any other country, due to the President’s feckless handling of our government’s response.
Another alarming trait is his seeming unwillingness to take responsibility for the well-being of his constituents. Reports have come out of the Centers for Disease Control that the President ordered the use of an experimental drug to aid in his own COVID-19 recovery, and that he attempted to manipulate the guidance used by the CDC for vaccine approval. His early dismissal from the hospital, combined with his return to public events while the White House staff continues to see the virus spread, shows how willing he is to disregard the health and safety of others in order for him to be “center stage.”
Like the teenagers in our classrooms, there must be a willing audience for this petulant president to get away with such abuse of power. Enter the GOP, once the stalwart for the rule of law, which now stands silently as the president fails to criticize a right-wing militia group that planned to kidnap two elected officials and refused to take a public stance against white supremacists. These elected Republican leaders stand silently as he lies about non-existent voter fraud through mail-in ballots. And they stand silently as he rips up our environmental regulatory structures that have provided Americans with clean air and water.
The GOP is not entirely without voice. Senator Mitch McConnell leads the chorus of Republicans voicing their support for the court-packing scheme he has guided for the past 10 years. When Sean Hannity of Fox News asked why President Obama left so many federal court vacancies, McConnell gleefully replied, “I’ll tell you why. I was in charge of what we did the last two years of the Obama administration.” In this, McConnell has the full-throated support of the GOP, though some in tight races have now become suddenly silent on the issue.
November 3rd looms large on our collective horizon, and we must return control of our government, and our country, to responsible adults willing to invest their efforts for the betterment of this country — for the common good. Our petulant president had his run; now we must send him to the principal’s office where justice can be meted out.
If you have not already done so, plan to vote. Too much is at stake in this election to just sit by and watch.