It’s no exaggeration to say that in his day John Adams was thought of as a bit of an ass. To many he was arrogant, pushy, narrow minded, and undiplomatic. By his own admission he was all those things, but he still managed to be one of the greatest men this country has ever known. Today Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. I think he deserves all the congratulations he gets. Somehow he managed to cut the Gordian Knot of Washington insider politics. Trump won by ruthlessly ignoring some attacks and systematically eviscerating his opponents after others. The fact that those opponents were the political elite of both parties should not be lost on anyone observing. He is a political outsider of the highest order.
This is an amazing feat.
Regardless of which side you fall on – support or not – saying “President Trump” should bring to you at least a small sense of awe and wonder. I know, many of you mutter “or a sense of fear”, and I get that, but I’m not talking about the man so much as what the man accomplished by winning. I do acknowledge that there is a connection between the man and his accomplishments but my point is, if you don’t like the man, at least understand that his accomplishment in becoming president is something to be impressed by.
Adams, of course, wasn’t the only president who was an ass.
American history is full of presidents who said things that were considered rude, brash, crass, undiplomatic, or presidential. They are, after all, human. To that I can hear some saying, “he’s the president, he’s supposed to be better than all of us” to which I say, no, no no. He’s supposed to be one of us, not better than us. It is only the recent “cult of presidency” that has set the president up as something more than a man. We’ve had drunks, jerks, womanizers, and cowards as president. They possess all the weakness associated with man. They are men who have been in the right place at the right time with the right attributes.
American hero, Mike Rowe recently said it well, as he often does:
‘Two Republicans, each of whom believed they were going to lose the election, wound up winning. Each candidate was viscerally hated by half the county, each vowed to transform the border, each treated the press with contempt, and each was considered by many to be a “tyrant.” One hundred and fifty years ago, a lot of Americans were absolutely convinced that Abraham Lincoln was an “illegitimate president.” Many today feel the same about Trump.”
What Mike Rowe is pointing out is the simple truth. Abraham Lincoln is favored for freeing the slaves, and reviled for his expansion and abuse of power. In other words: history, not personality, judges Lincoln. Obama has been beloved by the left and despised by the right. No level of emotion will be a true judge of his presidency. History will. So it will be with Trump.
Politics should not be one’s career.
In my lifetime there has never been a president who wasn’t first a politician of some sort or the other. Even Reagan, who was an actor, was Governor of California before he was president. Most politicians begin as a city council member, move on to mayor or state legislator, governor, congressman, senator, all in the hopes of moving up and up to the next rung on the ladder of political success. For such men the people they represent are no longer the purpose of their service but the means of their success, an end to a means, to be used as a resource rather than be represented as equals.The Founding Fathers of the United States were not career politicians. They had farm and hearth, business and career, that they went back to when the legislative session was over. What’s more, they were rabble-rousers who were considered traitors and argumentative loudmouths. They debated, struggled against the status quo, and most certainly did not support the crown.
Maybe Trump is a horrible human being. I don’t know him.
Maybe Trump will be a horrible president but don’t make that judgement based on what he says, how he says it, or what his personality is like. Make that judgement based on what he does as president. Base it on the laws he supports and signs, or vetoes; base it on the treaties he makes; base it on the wars he gets us into or out of; base it on something real, not something emotional. Emotions are not tools of cognition.
“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” – Ayn Rand
That’s how I plan to assess a Trump presidency. I suspect the mental health of a lot of people would benefit if they chose to do that same.
Update: below is the full text of Trump’s inaugural address. What do you think of it?
Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.
And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition.
They have been magnificent.
Today’s ceremony, however, has a very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have bore the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.
This is your celebration.
And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.
January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.
At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.
These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.
Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.
An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.
And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation, and their pain is our pain.
Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.
We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world. But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future.
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.
Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs.
We will bring back our borders.
We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.
We will shine for everyone to follow.
We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.
The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.
We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.
So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again.
And, yes, together we will make America great again.