Positive Reflections Made During Trump’s Final Days

(From just before he’s been ushered out of the White House)

Time to Learn our lessons
Photo by Jose M. on Unsplash

We don’t have to look back at the Trump presidency as all negative. And when I say “we” I don’t mean of course the 74 million who voted for him in 2020. I’ve heard throughout his presidency conservative scholars saying that he will be remembered as the worst president in history. There hasn’t even been a need to interview liberal or centrist ones. But it’s not all bad. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The recent events — the Storming of the Capitol, the second Impeachment, the Stop the Steal Campaign — have almost eclipsed the distant past. But I remember that now long ago when a breakaway group Republicans and ex-military and prominent conservative officials all signed a letter against Trump in 2016. They became known as the so-called “Never-Trumpers.” (Trump relentlessly stamped out dissent of groups and individuals through his four years, so you may have forgot them in the long string of career carcasses he left behind.) Now though is time to recall the main positive items to come out of the Trump era, the key items whose memory must be preserved and whose positive influence must continue. We must not let some of the key ideas die or be ‘healed’ by calls for unity. Let us take stock.

It is a given of course that liberal scholars and authors won’t be so kind on writing papers and books from their ivory towers. Besides the pundits from Fox-like media, who supported Trump, and whose immediate objective was to ‘win’ and obfuscate on his behalf, any serious analytical long-form reviews, in-depth articles or non-fiction literature of the Trump era about to be released are probably not quite ready to find the favorable items, to look back with nostalgia at all the positive things that happened.

So, let me list a few positive Trump-era items together he inspired directly or indirectly that that would not have happened without him as president. He inspired them in one form or another and I hope we can learn to value these key successes of his presidency.

1.MeToo. We probably wouldn’t have had the MeToo movement without Trump. The article I read when Trump was first running in 2016 about him highlighted all the women who he group, touched, and even (should I say allegedly) raped, as well as paid to sleep with, that were not his wife. And that list doesn’t include peeking in and running through the dressing rooms of Miss Universe and USA pageants he owned. Of course, there is the famous bus tape where he talked about just “grabbing them by the p***y”. (He ended his presidency by calling Mike Pence a p***y- nice bookends.) This cringe-y environment set up revelations about Harvey Weinstein that really tipped the scales to crystalize the movement. Bill Crosby went to jail for “touching” over thirty of them (vague modifier intended to display how he, like Trump, viewed his victims). And the hundreds and hundreds of girls abused by Larry Nasser. Over 330! The movement was very great, and liberating. Even for me as a man. I remembered when I was briefly kidnapped by a stranger down the street before I was ten years old and thankfully escaped. This is a hugely positive movement for women though, and I hope they don’t let the hashtag die.

2. Black Lives Matter. It goes without saying that this was liberating, even for white males like me in midlife, to see so many African-Americans step forward on the streets, the vast majority in peaceful protest. Followed by their vote and tipping Georgia. There just hasn’t been enough anger to get the blacks out to vote until Alabama voted for a black senator, followed by Georgia. In the region where blacks make up 30 percent, their voices should have risen to win many more elections. It took a movement though inspired by the horrible death and police murders we saw on video after video clip, deeply tragic and inflaming, to bring black and whites out into the streets. But it made America focus on how quick cops are to pull out their guns for the smallest infractions against blacks. And then use deadly force for the slightest movement, screaming the refrain the now familiar refrain into the body camera “he’s got a weapon,” knowing this will get them off by their union lawyer. We can only hope the BLM movement will strongly continue. Already, the white GOP representatives on the floor of the Congress during in the impeachment votes have used the notion of liberal antifa mobs and Black Lives Matter protestors as violent. They will keep painting the peaceful protestors as violent, rioters, and I fear that will be their new catch all dog whistle for blacks.

Inflamed, Peacefully
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

3. COVID of course: The government’s poor response to coronavirus. Deaths climbing to three and four thousand people a day. Not the slightest empathy or coordination by Trump, who left it up to Trump to bring some interns together into a room and leave them there as the new task force (true story by the way). It made us realize how critical leadership is organizing a central response to attacks on our nation. Trump’s drastically poor, unorganized response and unemphatic attitude to all the dead and their family’s underscore how important government is and can be. I lived through hurricane Rita in Houston in 2008 that took my roof off, with cars trapped on the highways. Central and state coordination didn’t happen well during the first hurricane. But afterward the county commissioner (called confusingly a judge in Texas) who was a Republican and the Houston mayor, a Democratic, worked very competently together to organize a response for all people. When the next hurricane came, I saw highways outbound that were well run. Residents told to leave in designated sections, closest to the water first, then next out, and so on. The plan worked, and both local parties had successfully coordinated for the good of the people trapped under these devastating storms. Sure, the dam broke during Hurricane Harvey years later, but that was a federal dam, and infrastructure repair on the federal level hasn’t happened yet. But we learned the need for federal government and saw how critical a national coordination is, even if we didn’t get in time for the broken dam. Most of the COVID deaths could have been avoided, masks could have pushed starting by Trump and coordinated across all levels of leadership. Vaccines could have been given right away instead of sitting around and given out in a chaotic fashion with people over 65 camped out on the street at 2 in morning waiting for a shot. There should have been an app for that. Numbers given out on a phone like at the butcher counter. Instead our elders were disgraced.

COVID — the virus of disorganization
Photo by CDC on Unsplash

4. Tolerance. Not Unity. It hasn’t happened yet, the nation is still divided. But don’t need it unified. We just need tolerance, acceptance. “We” free-thinkers (anyone on Medium generally fits that category)— whether on the right, left, or independent — need to reflect more about the reality of democracy, of having real discussion and debates, and finding a way to understand why people vote the way they do. Most on the Left were not so tolerant in understanding why so many people clung to voting for Trump, one of the greatest liars and cheats of a president in the eyes of liberals. And many on the Right didn’t really understand why the left saw Trump the way they did. Trump was a hero without a filter, saying what he wanted. They didn’t seem to take the charges against Trump so seriously, and didn’t seem to care about all the abusive name calling and bullying he did against his opponents either. Tolerance would find acceptance of other’s views, not agreement under the false guise of Unity. Any individual that speaks out should not be branded with some insulting name and barraged by Twitter threats for speaking out again a leader, not just Trump but in either party (sorry, I can’t think of any examples of leftist threats, just Nancy Pelosi’s shrugging at the ‘five’ and AOC like they don’t belong to her San Francisco social club). Intolerance is what leads to mob violence, Storming of the Capitol and endless threats on Twitter and the ‘social’.

I’m sure there’s more things that I ‘deceptively’ called positive. But it isn’t a deception. It is positive that democracy was so heavily under attack, that Trump was like the Teflon Don and no punishment has ever stuck to him. It stirred the righteous anger of the repressed, down for so long, no voting, as the media celebrates Elon Musk super centi-billionaires whose wealth grows at over $1 million dollars every fifteen minutes (! — yes, it’s true, do the math). We heard from the real media that nothing could be done. No outrage could get a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage to pass and we should really just wait for Trump to leave office.

We learned that democracy is frail, an experiment a few centuries old and not even established in the majority of governments worldwide, while authoritarianism is still a strong undercurrent in America, disguised at nationalism and populism. We learned the fear that this riptide could tear our legs out from under us and pull out to sea.

We learned that one man can cow his own party into complicity, using the hostile dark untapped energy of his followers who then threaten the families of party members not in compliance to vote against impeachments or against certifying the electoral college vote (Brad Raffenberger and all the Georgia staff, Rep. Meijer of Michigan: “There will be folks who try to kill us’, etc.). Their free voices were muffled or houses and addresses “dox”, their careers and force their silence (“they will get primaried”) while Trump cruelly continues to destroy his opponents or anyone he perceives as an opponent. We learned: that one bully can use racism and xenophobia and misogyny as a cult-like glue to unashamedly bond core members together; that bullying techniques, name calling, so called “dirty” politics — the dirtiest of all time in the US — work.

The voice of those who spoke
Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

That at least almost half, but never quite half, 42 percent at times but 33% of hard-core supporters, who can support such a brazen leader. In fact, that brazen anger he unleashed in them might be the main attraction. See number one and two above. Those movements exploded on the scene and released waves of energy of people that were repressed by those who thought they could brazenly abuse — groped, pulled guns on, raped, ‘tazed’ — with apparent impunity.

We learned that victims have voices to be now published online. That when they speak out that quickly receive untold number of ‘likes” for their bravery and get positive messages when they thought they were alone in their victimhood. It only takes the voice or video to see that the actions of one victimizer can bring out a wave in support against him, that the victims can come out, speak out, be heard and be seen. We learned they will come out and vote.

We learned that abusers, or ‘victimizers’, of which there are many, but never close to half, end up voting on the other side of their victims.

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Bren Kelly

Bren Kelly

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Engaged in new Ideas and old Inequalities, putting the system back into systemic, born on the 50th Anniversary of Women's Lib Day, still seeking injustices.