Most newly elected Presidents have at least two things in common. First, regardless of the size and voter structure of their election, they have attempted to depict themselves as the President of all the American people. Even Lincoln did it. Second, when the campaign rhetoric is over they have attempted to describe what they will do to build new solutions and programs to solve problems that confront the country. Mr. Trump has chosen not to follow these historical paths.
As best as can be discerned amidst the continuing rhetorical flurries and blizzard of Executive Orders, along with a couple of pieces of proposed legislation, the only thing that has been discussed as being built is a wall along our border with Mexico. Everything else that has come out of the new occupants of the White House is trying to tear something down. Whether it is our long standing partnership with Great Britain or dismantling a functioning health care delivery mechanism the words and the actions emanating from the White House have had either the goal or the result of tearing things down. Tear down NATO. Tear down the Environmental Protection Agency. Tear down Meals on Wheels. Tear down Planned Parenthood. The list just keeps growing.
There are many things that are disturbing about this apparent compulsive need to destroy things, but perhaps overall the often seeming randomness of the initiation of the tear down process is as scary as the individual actions. A sitting President, out of the blue, accuses his predecessor of tapping his phone during the Presidential election and then goes on to say that the former President had the dastardly deed done by another country which has been an American ally since the early days of the twentieth century. Both of these rather absurd accusations were hurled from a clear blue sky with no proof to substantiate them, and no obvious benefit to the President who made them, or to the Presidential administration he leads. Every person in a position to know has stated, with no caveats, that both these assertions are untrue, i.e. the President is either hallucinating or is simply an old fashion liar.
Saying that the Judicial Branch of our three part governmental system is biased, incompetent and un-American is to challenge the Constitutionally designed structure of our country. A President attacking and attempting to tear down the credibility of a branch of our government out of Presidential personal pique, with no facts backing up the assertion other than he thinks a judge may rule against him or a judge has ruled against him is simply stupid. Franklin Roosevelt learned this after the Congress refused to allow him to pack the Supreme Court, but Mr. Trump neither reads nor understands history. He certainly does not learn from it.
Because our current President has no faith in, or understanding of, Constitutional government, he has no compunction about trying to tear one or another element of our Constitutional structure down. This tearing down predilection applies to the Executive Branch itself. His profound lack of respect for the office he holds, combined with his ignorance and almost complete disinterest in how our system of government works, is frightening. His petulance about anyone or anything that appears to be getting in the way of his narcissistic need to have all things exactly and only as he wants them results in the un-American role he has taken for himself as President of the United States. He strikes out, often apparently at random, to destroy and defeat any real or perceived impediment to his unique understanding of the world with no one able to either reason with him or make him talk sense. His family cannot do it. His advisers cannot do it. The only hope is that eventually the governing model will assert itself and either the Legislative or Judicial Branch, or both, will hit him along side the head with a Constitutional two by four and get him to pay attention.
Americans are an optimistic people. Generally, we want things to get better and more often than not we think they will. The Europeans and Asians have been laughing behind their hands for a few hundred years about this quaint American optimism. At least one of the pillars of this optimism has been our vision of ourselves, and our success at it, as builders. We have often changed things in our efforts to build and grow, but we have seldom indulged in destruction simply for the sake of it. This President and his administration seem hell bent on destruction for the sake of destruction. They act to tear things down but not to build anything better. At its heart, this mania for destruction goes against the grain of who we are.
This sense of American optimism has historically been held most strongly by a significant portion of those folks who voted for Mr. Trump. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for out of this continuing roil of destruction coming out of the White House is that those voters, after a period of enjoyment watching the person they elected sticking a finger in the eye of the federal government they see as intrusive and over reaching, will return to their core optimism about how America builds new and better things and figure out that this President does not know how to build, only to tear things down.