The Country, As of Now, is Fine
By Hudson Bennett (Washington and Lee University Undergraduate)
It hasn’t happened yet.
Donald Trump was elected, and he was elected after a campaign that appealed to fear and anger. He was elected after proving himself a misogynist at best and a criminal at worst, after showing almost no political acumen in any of three debate performances, after promising to make America great again yet not being able to articulate how. He was elected over a woman who could do no right in the eyes of many Americans, who could have turned lead into gold and still be called the embodiment of Satan. Hillary Clinton had a plan, and it was a good one—but she is a female Democrat, and that’s almost impossible to overcome. Any mistake she made—and she definitely made mistakes—became an unforgivable sin in the eyes of many. She had a huge mountain to climb, and she couldn’t quite get to the top. Donald Trump did, and he has promised to do several things now that he’s there.
He’s promised to dismantle the EPA and pull out of the Paris climate agreements, which would make America the lone major power refusing to do anything to stop the free-fall that is the consequences of global warming and overconsumption. He’s promised to halt the progression of gay rights and stop those who don’t look like us or think like us from entering the country. He’s promised to treat those who ‘look dangerous’ differently—stop and frisk, anyone?—because somehow that will make the country a safer place. Donald Trump has promised to make a lot of things happen that will do a lot to halt the progress we’ve made as a country.
But it hasn’t happened yet.
The man is president now, and I’ll support him as our president. He’s our leader, and we need to treat him as such. Hopefully, he’ll use his considerable intelligence to learn how to play politics and will exercise some degree of good decision making. Hopefully, he’ll show that he has been rash in the past but has learned from his mistakes, and will lead the country competently. He doesn’t need to be Lincoln, but he has to at least be Bush. But if he can’t, if everything he promised to do in the election process becomes a possibility because he’s in the Oval Office now, we have a Congress, a White House, and a Supreme Court that must act. It can’t be about the party loyalty now. The people in Washington, the people we’ve chosen to be our leaders¸ have to lead. They have to put aside the ridiculous prioritizing of getting reelected and do what they believe is best for the country. They’re supposed to be the best of us, the ones best suited to captain the ship. It’s about time they prove it.
It hasn’t happened yet. The country, as of now, is fine. We’ve picked our leaders. Let’s trust them.
You won’t see this, Congress, but you just became a lot more important. You’ve played scared for a lot of my lifetime, shrinking away from what you believe is the right vote because it could hurt your standing in your party. Right now you are known as an incompetent bunch, and honestly, you’ve earned it. But if you mess it up now—if you let Donald Trump follow through on his promises just because he says he’s a Republican—it won’t matter if you get reelected, because history will view you as a disgrace.
If you play this right, however, the next four years will be tolerable at worst and great at best.
Washington, you’ve got a country to run. President Trump, you’ve got a country to run.