A year on, Mr. Donald Trump is still our president.
Though many of us still cannot quite figure out how or why he got elected and foolishly spend our time dreaming of what might have been — Bernie would have won — or what yet could be — the Mueller investigation rolls on — a year into Trump’s term, it is time to take stock of what has happened in the past year. This is hard to do neutrally.
There are many things that stand out, but the most important change in the past year has been the change in the perception of the Office of the President of the United States. Everything else, though important, revolves around this shift.
Trump governs via twitter and causes scandal after scandal with inane remarks, typos like “covfefe,” and personal attacks on the media and other politicians. Our president also does outrageous things in person: he calls African and Caribbean countries “shitholes”— or possibly “shithouses”— cuts in line for photo-ops with NATO leaders, demonizes immigrants, and tosses paper towels to hurricane victims.
For all the talk in Trump’s camp and Fox News about the Democrats “not respecting the office of the President,” Trump has only himself to blame for Angela Merkel being the one to inherit the title of leader of the free world.
This is the reality: things are changing. Our understanding of presidential behavior, of red flags and red lines, has been bulldozed in the past years. Our every understanding of democracy is being threatened. Things will not just revert back to normal when Trump leaves office.
I do not say this to attack Republicans, and I am heartened every day by meeting more and more voters willing to admit their disappointment with what has become of a proud and worker-focused party now bowed to big business, showmanship, and thinly veiled racism.
Acknowledging the Tomi Lahrenification of news, of opinion as fact, of using smoke and mirror to pass laws and blatant lies to the public is the first step toward rebuilding a government that actually works for all Americans, not just the upper class and not just white people.
An important concept to keep in mind at the moment, one that has typically unified us, is realpolitik. No matter what each party says, at heart they want the same things: prosperity and the middle class way of life for Americans, and unchallenged military domination of the globe. Through the Cold War, the ’90s, and even the early 2000s, heart of realpolitik did not change for the American public. Right now could be the first time since the Civil War that the two parties’ vision of the world future has shifted apart.
Maybe it should continue shifting. More and more Americans are waking up to the inequalities that lie not just from door to door but from country to country, to the reality that more nuclear weapons will not make us any safer, that we have responsibility when it comes preventing climate change.
Maybe the political divide truly does hold an unmendable divide when it comes to visions of the future. Fighting symptoms of this divide will only grind us further down.
What matters is finding and addressing that kernel of motivation, the kernel of what really matters and what is really meant, by politicians, by parties, and by people. This is what must be discussed if we are going to be able to restore some sort of political balance once Trump leaves office.
If making America “Great Again” means putting the interests of Americans above the interests of global citizens, then count me out. Read my realpolitik: the world first, not America first. Make America part of the global community again.