Trump presidency is undeniable
Gabe Kahn is the editor of The New Jersey Jewish News.
When the New England Patriots were upset by the Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl, losing their chance at a championship, a perfect season, and immortality, all in one fell swoop, I reacted as only a mature adult (and native Bostonian) should: I did my best to keep this catastrophic event out of my mind. I even refused to visit the ESPN website for the next three months out of fear that I might come across an article or headline that referenced that terrible day.
This is my preferred method of “dealing” with upsetting news. When it comes to the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — I generally stop at step one.
Unfortunately for me, when the final results of last week’s presidential election became evident, I realized that I would be forced to abdicate my throne as the ostrich king. The vote did not go the way I had hoped, and — unlike a football game that was played nine years ago — this was something I could not ignore.
For one, blocking it out would be virtually impossible in the digital age. And given my job, I have a responsibility to delve into the historical significance and massive implications of this election on local, national, and international levels.
But most importantly, it is one step too far for me to imagine that Trump’s election is anything but a stain on the country, and a sad statement on the level of voter frustration that would allow people to ignore massive incivility for the longshot-chance that a shakeup will solve their problems.
It’s possible Donald Trump is exactly what this country needs, and this shot to the status quo will ignite the economy, put those who’ve dropped out of the workforce back in it, unite the country, and provide stability throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Maybe Trump knows what he’s doing. And maybe Hillary Clinton would’ve been “a disaster,” to borrow a phrase. We’ll never know.
But here’s what I do know, objectively and definitively: The president-elect has committed a very long list of offenses and untrue statements, from mocking John McCain for having been a POW in Vietnam to insisting climate change is a myth to demeaning women, minorities, and the disabled, any one of which would have derailed the campaign of any other candidate for office. And to top it off, he would not guarantee that he would accept the results of the presidential election unless, of course, he won.
So as much as I want to hope for the best, I’m finding that it’s incredibly difficult to do so.
It’s at this point that Trump supporters and Hillary haters will bring up the e-mails, and yes, that’s fair. Her use of a private server to send classified information while secretary of state (and possibly deleting thousands of e-mails) was inexcusable, unethical, arguably illegal, and, maybe most damning for an aspiring president, stupid.
But come on. The long list of Trump’s disturbing comments and disgusting actions occurred in the last year-and-a-half when he was trying to convince us to vote for him, and each one is an inarguable fact. In that same span Clinton’s worst offenses, like referring to Trump supporters as “a basket of deplorables,” were unfair, but not even flying over the same time zone as our next president. Claiming otherwise is the very definition of false equivalency.
And here’s where the 24 percent of our people who voted for the businessman jump out of their chairs and yell “Israel.” Hey, it’d be great if he’s able to patch up the relationship between the United States and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but a few words of caution for our one-issue voters: Since claiming victory last week, Trump has already begun to walk back his campaign promises to move the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to renounce the Iran nuclear deal. And he’s appointed alt-right champion Stephen Bannon, former chair of Breitbart News, as his chief strategist, a man widely perceived to traffic in anti-Semitic, racist, and bigoted comments on his site, if not personally.
Again, Clinton is far from perfect, and, along with an assist from FBI director James Comey, she bears the brunt of the responsibility for coming up short. Despite every big hitter in the Democratic Party yielding to her well before the primary season, and virtually all the super-delegates crowning her as nominee, her inability to connect with young voters was distressing next to the impressive efforts of Bernie Sanders. For the rest of her life she’ll be haunted by the what ifs: What if she hadn’t used that private server? What if she had come clean right off the bat instead of maintaining that she was blameless? What if she had foregone the opportunity to run up the score by campaigning in Arizona and Georgia and spent more time in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to convince those uninspired voters to visit the polls on Election Day?
Despite my extreme reservations, I’m rooting for the Trump administration. Though I wanted him to fail at every turn during the campaign — and time after time I thought he did — I want what’s best for my family, my people, and my country. As opposed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who famously said in 2010 that his top priority was to ensure that Obama would be a “one-term president,” I hope I have reason to vote for Trump in 2020.
But I can’t fool myself into forgetting how far out on a limb my fellow citizens went to elect Donald Trump. That they did makes me wonder if his slogan to make America great again hit a nerve because it was on point; as it turns out we’re not so great anymore, and try as I might, I can’t convince myself otherwise.