Today, I woke up and realized that Donald Trump really is not my president. Not because I say so, but because he does.
No, Mr. Trump doesn’t know me personally. I like it that way. The people he does know personally tend to become targets for his wrath, sooner or later, because it’s impossible to criticize him without being identified as a threat to his own inflated yet fragile self-image. And it’s equally impossible for any thinking person to avoid criticizing him.
This is why Mr. Trump isn’t my president. He doesn’t represent me — or people like me — because he doesn’t want to.
When the #NotMyPresident hashtag started trending, immediately after the inauguration, I dismissed it as sour grapes. Democrats and, specifically, hardline Hillary Clinton supporters, didn’t like the result of the election and were refusing to accept it.
I didn’t blame them for being frustrated with the outcome of a general election marred by an antiquated Electoral College system. Then again, I didn’t blame Bernie Sanders’ supporters for being upset about a primary election in which Democratic leadership clearly and unabashedly favored Clinton.
Still, I recognize that, however unfair, Clinton was the party’s nominee and Trump was, ultimately, the nation’s president.
Except he’s not.
The Great Divider
Trump has said he wants the country united … as long as he gets his way and gets all the credit. (Remember his absurd boast to the Republican National Convention: “I alone can fix it.” It’s a statement that contains two assertions: He doesn’t think anyone else can succeed, and perhaps even more telling, he doesn’t think he needs anyone’s help.)
When Trump doesn’t get his way, his response isn’t to work collaboratively toward unity, but just the opposite: He makes new enemies. He lashes out at the Jeff Sessions, Stephen Curry, John McCain or anyone else he perceives as a threat to his personal glory. He picks fights with allies (Mexico) and adversaries (North Korea) alike so he can create or magnify scapegoats for people to hate — all for the sake of getting more pats on the back and attaboys.
Make no mistake, that’s what he’s in this for. Trump pursued the presidency for one reason and one reason alone: He wants adulation. He has neither time nor concern for anyone who doesn’t applaud him and affirm him.
To Trump, politics isn’t a means of public service but of personal aggrandizement.
This is why he consistently “plays to his base” … and ignores everyone else. It’s why he holds campaign-style rallies instead of town halls, long after the election. He’s not running for anything except the imaginary office of messianic control freak.
Trump ignored the conventional wisdom that’s been employed since Richard Nixon that Republicans should “run to the right” in the primaries and “run to the center” during the general election. In fact, he ran away from the center against Clinton, and it looks like he’s still running away from it as president. But for him, “the center” means something different than it does for most politicians. To Trump, the center is, well, Trump. The center of the universe, that is.
He’s not about ideology or principle. This should be plain enough, considering he’s flip-flopped on virtually every major issue, from abortion to DACA to the Iraq War, over the past two decades. He’s the ultimate philosophical carpetbagger: He preaches to whatever choir will sing his praises the loudest.
At present, his choir of choice happens to be the Republican Party. But make no mistake: If the GOP’s rank-and-file members sour on him, he’ll turn on them and take his dog and pony show elsewhere. (Just ask Mitch McConnell, Sessions, McCain and other Republicans who have come under withering criticism for failing to support Trump to his satisfaction.)
Trump’s an expert in one thing: taking his ball and going home. Ask the USFL. Or bankruptcy court.
Most recently, he fired Tom Price as Health and Human Services secretary, not because Price did something wrong by using charter planes on the taxpayers’ dime, but because “I don’t like the optics.” Translation: “I can’t put up with this guy making me look bad.”
Turning his back
Through all this, I resisted the idea of saying Trump is “not my president” — even though I’ve never felt as though he is. I believe in accepting the results of elections I don’t like and respecting the democratic process, even when it’s clearly flawed.
But once the election is over, it’s a public official’s duty to serve all the people, and Trump hasn’t done that. Individual voters can't expect to agree with his every decision, but they should at least get the feeling that he's trying to serve the entire country — not just his cronies and yes men.
I've never been a Trump supporter. I've always thought he lacked what it takes to be president. But I've never used the phrase "not my president" until now.
The last straw for me came when the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, pleaded for more help dealing with the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. “You have people in buildings and they're becoming caged in their own buildings — old people, retired people that don’t have any electricity. We're dying here. We truly are dying here. I keep saying it: SOS.”
Blame the mayor, the people of Puerto Rico, the Democrats, "fake news" — pretty much everybody else.
“Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They ... want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort.”
This is not the way you treat someone you’re supposed to represent when that person is pleading for hundreds, thousands of people’s lives.
It’s a way of saying you’re not their president. Well, Mr. Trump, if you’re not their president, you’re not mine, either. My wife was born on the island of Puerto Rico, and is a “natural born American citizen.” You’ve already indicated by your actions that you represent your base. Period. You’ve said things to alienate huge numbers of women, people of color, Latinos, Muslims … the list goes on and on. Now you’re essentially calling the people of Puerto Rico a bunch of lazy ingrates while they’re trying to cope with a lack of clean water, electricity, housing, health care and myriad other issues.
When a person elected to represent people turns his back on those people, they have every right to turn their back on him. They have every reason not to travel to the White House to accept his congratulations for their sports achievements. They have every right to protest. And they have every right to say he’s #NotMyPresident.
And, Mr. Trump, you’re not.
Not because I say so, but because you’re saying so loud and clear to millions of Americans every day.