How Trump (Inadvertently) Made America Great Again.
I believe we, the United States of America, are at the tipping point of greatness.
Regardless of who you support for president and regardless of who wins, there is no doubt in my mind that the movement brought forth during President Trump’s last four years in office has laid the groundwork for substantial evolution in both the political and social spheres. Despite how Trump has or hasn’t impacted democracy, it is in fact because of democracy that Trump exists.
And we should be grateful for his initiation into our next phase of spiritual growth as a nation. For we may not have been able to clear the hurdles to our own greatness had our weaknesses not been exposed.
Bear with me as I reflect on three ways President Trump has, in fact, “Made America Great Again.”
“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
First of all, say what you will about his governing techniques, but Donald Trump’s polarizing personality has laid the foundation for a complete and total reimagining of what an American presidency can be. Specifically, his mastery of social media has expanded the way politicians communicate with their constituents, and consequently, constituents communicate with their representatives.
In a time where money and special interests have dominated politics for decades, this creates a direct line between leaders and the electorate that can only lead to great shifts in how issues are raised and decisions are made.
Similarly, Trump’s flouting of the constitution is inviting people into unprecedented civic engagement. In a country of over 330 million people, millions are reading the Constitution and educating themselves on the mechanics of our government for the first time. This renewed desire to understand our current governing body has created a record voter turnout among young and first-time voters.
Having an educated, energized, and engaged electorate is without a doubt great for democracy.
Secondly, the Trump administration’s mismanaging and misleading the public on the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many broken systems in the United States which have not adapted at the same rate as the changing demographics of the country. This includes a fractured economic system, public education system, and healthcare system, to name a few.
A cursory glance at policy proposals for the last 75 years shows that these systems have been being reexamined for generations. But now, because a critical mass of people are being impacted in all of these areas at the same time, the dysfunction has been clearly exposed. The repercussions are creating enough dis-ease to finally motivate great change.
Lastly, in perhaps a shift that is most precious to me, Trump’s off-the-cuff and shameless misogyny and his thinly veiled pandering to and refusal to denounce white supremacist groups are calling women and people of color into their sovereignty.
His bigotry has accelerated the sea-change begun with #MeToo, opening the ears of the nation to the long-suffering voices around income inequality, sexual harassment and assault, and the lack of representation in board rooms. Black voices are being elevated and amplified in all fields while corporations around the country are finally making public statements of inclusivity and diversity.
Disagreements about race are being had on national stages. Racially motivated policies are being challenged and proud racists are feeling empowered to make themselves known. While at first glance, these may not seem like great things, James Baldwin reminds us that, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Trump and his populist counterparts around the world are calling into our consciousness, to use the words of former presidential candidate, Marianne Williamson, the dark psychic forces to which we’ve been blinded for generations. Trump’s childish insults and inflammatory rhetoric have awakened righteous anger across the nation and across the aisle.
His flagrant mocking of presidential decorum has opened our eyes to what we value both individually and as a nation. The dark psychic force of Trump is his brazen preoccupation with his own interests. Yet, the majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, desire a society where they and their neighbors can generate prosperity and safely raise their children with access to opportunity.
Alexis de Tocqueville in his quintessential work Democracy in America writes, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather, in her ability to repair her faults.”
Four years ago, I warned about the impact a Trump presidency would have on our nation’s character.
While I knew his bombastic personality would change the office of President of the United States forever, I didn’t realize then how poignantly his campaign slogan would play out. In order to Make America Great Again, it is imperative that we remember the truths that we hold to be self-evident, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, namely Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
And it is only in exposing our faults that we are able to repair them and maintain both our goodness and our greatness.
Jennie Willoughby* writes and speaks on mindfulness and the resilience of the human spirit. Based out of Washington DC and New York, Jennie’s platform gained widespread attention in 2018 when her description of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband launched a national scandal and he was removed from the White House. More recently, she has been opening the conversation around earned redemption and life after #MeToo and cancel culture. From the unique perspective of compassion and forgiveness, Jennie encourages and supports people in fostering a new dialogue to use with ourselves and others to foster empathy and connection. With degrees in biochemistry and brain-based teaching, Jennie uses her 13 years of working in the classroom and knowledge of neuroscience as the backbone of her work offering support in dealing with experiences of anxiety, anger, stress, and trauma. Jennie writes at The Pull of Grace and is published in the Washington Post and Time magazine. Jennie has been featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, NBC’s The Today Show, MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Fox’s Media Buzz with Howard Kurtz, WNYC’s United States of Anxiety, and NPR’s The Takeaway. Jennie also performs regularly as a vocalist on stage with The Inspired Word NYC. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. *Jennie was married to former White House Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, from 2009-2013.