Since I have entitled this blog, “Taking A Stand” it’s probably time to do so as related to the political scene that dances before us on a daily basis. I write this in September of 2017, nine months into the Donald Trump presidency.
I should begin by saying that I have bounced back and forth between Republican and Democrat most of my adult life, voting on both sides of the fence. Given my generally conservative bend on things and my belief in small government, I have identified with many things Republican. And I should also begin by saying that in the last election I voted for neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton, casting instead a protest vote for Evan McMullin. (And that I did with no excitement or expectation that he would win. It was simply a protest vote where I couldn’t with good conscience vote for either Donald or Hillary.)
Back in November of 2016 President-Elect Trump told us in one of his first speeches that it was “time to heal the wounds of division” and it was time to “come together as one united people.” Dude, it hasn’t happened, and I have seen no evidence that Pres. Trump has tried to lead with any healing or coming together.
Here’s my basic premise: President Trump is adept a tearing things down (usually with insults, blaming words and name calling), but he seems weak at building things up. His modus operandi seems to be more “my way or the highway” as opposed to “consensus building.” If I define leadership as the characteristic to have a vision, provide others with information about that vision, inspire others to follow, resolve conflicting issues from others, take charge and inspire, then I have seen little evidence of actual leadership.
- Immigration Reform (e.g. Travel Ban, Wall, DACA)
I have seen travel ban limitations, statements that Mexico will pay for some never-defined wall, and the elimination of DACA. What I have not seen is any concrete plan about immigration reform, what we actually do with millions of people who currently live in this country without proper documentation. Granted, members of congress drags their heels as well, but if Pres. Trump wants to lead immigration reform, we need to hear his proposal for actual reform. To date we have heard statements about what to get rid of, but nothing to build upon. DACA is the perfect example. To simply say that we are eliminating DACA and that Congress should resolve the problem, does not offer me any concrete plan for reform. As a true leader, I would prefer that Pres. Trump present a plan for Congress’ consideration and then inspire people to support his plan.
2. Health Care – Elimination of Obamacare
It seems an easy thing to declare that Obamacare was a disaster. It is another thing to provide us with a new alternative. Nobody was excited to support the half-baked version that was proposed. Issues related to what to do about the uninsured were left unanswered. Again, if Pres. Trump wants to lead, give me something to follow and go out and inspire me to accept it. What I saw instead was a president who nearly disappeared from the discussion.
3. North Korea Threats – I think we got the message that Kim Jong-un is a ‘bad hombre’ who enjoys his destructive toys. I’ve heard statements from Pres. Trump that blame China for not being tough enough, but I have seen no concrete suggestion about how we should deal with Kim Jong-un or help the people of North and South Korea.
4. Paris Accord – Whether you believe in global warming or not, it seems irresponsible to pull out of the Paris Accord, and then have no strategy or statement about what we should do to balance energy and pollution. Pres. Trump pulled out, with a simple suggestion that some day he will replace it with something better. I have seen nothing that suggests a strategy to balance energy and pollution. If the US wants to lead in how we use energy, give me a vision of what that will be and then inspire me to support it.
5. White Supremacy / Nazi Groups – No doubt that in our society we have some deep-seeded racist thinking. A true leader will denounce this, and then lead the charge to make sure that hatred and racist actions are not condoned. Lead the charge in this Mr. President. Instead, we were left wondering what your stand actually is.
6. Transgender Members of the Military -Really? Transgender is the #1 military issue? Eliminating transgender members of the military (who are currently serving) doesn’t tell me anything about what the military will do, only what it no longer can do. If you want to lead the military, give me a specific goal of what the military should be doing. How will its modernization be financed, and what will be built? Really? Transgender?
7. Staff Changes & Russia Probe – Here we see another example of people that are fired, let go, chastised in public, called names and insulted. We’ve seen 9 months of changes in the basic structure, with no actual work that gets accomplished. If President Trump cannot even inspire his staff to follow him, how can he lead the whole country? As to Russia probe, my advice would be to say, “Y’all got your job to do, go ahead and do it. Meanwhile, I’ve got more pressing issues to deal with.” Instead of leadership I see sidetracking.
8. Relationship with International Leaders – I don’t think I can name one country with which we have improved relations in the past nine months. England? No. France? No, Germany? No. Russia? No. China? No. Israel? Surprisingly no. Mexico? No. Canada? No. Venezuela? No. Cuba? No. Saudi Arabia? No. Syria? No. South Korea? No. Japan? No.
9. Budget – Since I live in the academic world, I feel the sense of uneasiness where everyone is worried about what program (especially for those in Liberal Arts) will no longer be supported by our government. It’s another example of the emphasis on what is eliminated, with no vision for what is going be funded and encouraged. It seems that the budget proposals are vague enough that specifics are nebulous. Not doubt, a balanced budget implies the need for certain cuts, but leadership implies a vision of where we are heading. I don’t see it.
Bottom line for me, I have seen 9 months of a bombastic style where Pres. Trump easily criticizes and calls people names, but things never go beyond that. It’s time to move on from the silly tweets, petty insults, name calling, and accusations of unfair public scrutiny. Show me some concrete leadership. Give me something to follow. Inspire me with a vision of what can be. Lead the charge, and I, like many, would probably be willing to follow.