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Friday, January 05, 2018

Trump Times: Fire and Fury

Trump times plays like a chapter book. Almost every day there's a new chapter to contend with, but there's rarely to never a day without a new problem or show-worthy event. The latest is Fire and Fury, a book about Trump's Whitehouse days. Is it true? Perhaps some is true and some is not. It's hard to discern truth in Trump times with all the name calling, exaggerations, mistruths, and sensational stories that are told day after day.

There are some truths, however, that are apparent to all:
  • Trump is often disrespectful to people by calling them names and belittling who they are and what they do.
  • Trump demeans those who disagree with him rather than using debate, discussion, and compromise to decide what's best in the situation.
  • Trump gives little depth to issues and typically simplifies important issues to alarming soundbites, soundbites that remind us of playground conflicts and little kid fights.
I have not agreed with any statement that I've read made by Steve Bannon, yet when Trump once again began to decry the free press with his ranting about the book, I ordered it. I'm sure I'll have a similar reaction to the one I had when I read all about Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky way back when in the local paper. It was alarming as I'm sure the stories in this book will be alarming too.

What can we learn from this? We can learn to hold true what Timothy Snyder remarks about in his book, On Tyranny, and that is that professional ethics matter. We all have to hold each other accountable and help each other when it comes to professional ethics. To be ethical is not always easy, but it is always critical. 

Similarly we can conclude that demeanor matters. You can't lead if you rant and rage and tell wild stories--that's what entertainers, comedians, and reality TV stars do. If you're truly going to lead you have to have good character and a wonderful demeanor. The people who do that best are people who have had good role models and mentors for this, and people who set their mind to doing this. When it comes to extraordinary leadership, I bet that most people can't name more than a handful of people as good leadership is difficult to find.

Further I am feeling a glint of hope with the reaction to this book. I am seeing that those who are disrespectful and uninterested in the American people are turning on each other, and this means that life after Trump may exist if the resistance continues its tireless efforts. All of us have to act too--we have to speak up with respect for what we believe in, and we have to support our good institutions and dust off and recommit to our professional ethics in order for our democracy to thrive. 

Trump has been an overcorrection to American society. He has clearly illustrated who we don't want to be and where we don't want to go. I am a bit hopeful today that he's going to go away, but again as Snyder points out, a democracy needs constant attention to survive. There will be more challenges from Trump and after Trump to our country's people, policies, and laws, and there will also be the need to update our country's systems and processes to better meet the demands of a modern, interdependent global community, and I believe universal society. We will always be a work in progress, and what matters is that work is well intended and directed towards the betterment for all.