On the Current State of the American Presidency

Politics, to put it simply, is all about optics; it is all about perception. This is Political Science 101. Our current president has failed miserably to understand this. When you do not own or control the media, you cannot make statement A and then later deny that you said it when you have been recorded doing so. The evidence is there; anyone who uses reason can comprehend that you cannot counter your previous statements with denials that you said them, or that they were misconstrued or taken out of context, and hope it will all just go away. We cannot hope that you will just go away; we are stuck with you for the next four years.

You cannot send out your pig-headed spokesman to verbally accost the press and then deny them their right to question him concerning the topic under discussion. You cannot let your counselor go on national television and state that your press secretary used “alternative facts” when fabricating that the audience at your inauguration was the largest ever to witness such a solemn event. Clearly, you’re a size queen.

I, along with so many other people throughout this country and across the globe, have been struggling to accept that you are the new president and “the leader of the free world,” a world in which freedom and rights of all kinds are being lost on a daily basis but not covered by the media and barely mentioned by politicians except when it serves as a sound bite for votes when running for office, especially for reelection. I am writing this post not to chastise the American people or the political elite, but rather to write a requiem of sorts for the office of the American presidency.

On a few occasions since the election I have said to a friend that the worst part of the fallout to come from this situation is not the loss of American power or the catastrophic disruption of the international order at which we have been at the helm for so long, but the loss of respect and dignity to the presidency itself as an institution, one that has steered us, led us, as a nation and as a people, for over two hundred years, through all the good and the bad. George W. Bush might not have been the most intelligent or well spoken of presidents, but at least he had respect for the presidency, the political system, and the American people, but then again, let us not forget, optics are key. The same can certainly be said for Barack Obama. Our new president has no respect for anyone; if he has any respect, it is for only those who are as narcissistic and power-hungry as he is, it is only for those whose wealth matches (or vastly exceeds) his own, and for those dictators of the world, past, present, and future, who believe that there is only one way, one vision, for how their nation and the world should be run—their own.

Let us put aside the fact that much of the world has its eyes on America, on us, the people who continually make this nation what it is and ultimately paint the picture of how we are seen by the multitudes across the earth, set to ridicule us or admire and even, dare I say it, emulate us. Let us put aside the fact that since before we even became a nation, as a people we seem to do things quite differently from the rest of the peoples, cultures, and nations of the globe. In spite of these things, we have no excuse for having elected the man who currently holds the office of the presidency.

The American president is meant to embody leadership; he is meant to lead the people through the collective traumas we experience as a nation. The American president is meant to stand up for us when we are under attack, when our values and beliefs are questioned and belittled; he is meant to be a beacon in the darkness when the winds and waters whip harshly at us as a people and erode our pride and faith in ourselves as a nation and in the world as well. He is meant to unite us, not divide us; he is not supposed to disparage and defame any one group of people and cast them as the scapegoat for any other social group’s problems. He is to embody our virtues as a nation, not our vices, without filling us with an excess of pride, always reminding us when necessary that we are not superior to one another, and that we, as with so many other peoples, have the stain of blood and sin upon us for our ancestors’ misdeeds and misguided beliefs. The American president is the singular face of the American people; he represents us when in communion with foreign dignitaries both here and abroad. He is our representative when he engages with and speaks to the people of all the nations he visits.

In contrast, the man who is currently president embodies, enacts, and even extols the ills and vices of the American people, and of the human race in general. These need not be named, as anyone with a critically thinking mind can hear this when he speaks. As a result, the office of the American presidency has begun to lose all its respect and dignity, not just for the millions of us who did not vote for him, many of whom believe—I have no doubt, whether they have openly stated it or not—that he is not their president, but also for all those people elsewhere who equally share our terror and dismay over the current state of American politics. And this is not to mention the consternation that the majority of politicians presently in power or otherwise must naturally also feel about this grave predicament we find ourselves in.

And this brings me back to the beginning of this post. Any educated individual can now see that the optics of American politics has gone out the window and cannot be fixed or replaced with any grace or fluidity. And any individual concerned with how we appear to the world as a nation and a people, as by now you can certainly ascertain that I am, has much to be troubled by for the foreseeable future, if not for the rest of their lives, as I do not believe that the American presidency as a revered institution in the eyes of the American people or a respected one in the eyes of the world can recuperate from this travesty and tragedy.

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