On Trump and Common Decency

White House in a fog.

From Mitt Romney to Chuck Schumer and President Obama, political leaders and ordinary Americans are doing their best to pledge their support to President-elect Donald Trump. In an effort to get the country past the divisiveness of last year’s election and in the hope that Trump will somehow rise to the occasion, we are collectively trying to ignore, for now, the obvious: Trump is unfit to be president.

The hardest thing for most of us to get our head around is the idea that someone who won the presidency in a fair election is not qualified, but in a representative government, people who are unqualified for public office win elections all the time. Some have long and celebrated careers and are remembered as statesmen once they leave the scene. Winning an election is not proof of competence in governing, it is only proof of superiority in the most recent campaign.

I do not wish for Donald Trump to fail as president, but I expect him to. Despite the best efforts of professional politicians and the news media to treat the Trump presidency as if it is like all others that have come before, I am not willing to join in that fiction. My unwillingness to collaborate is rooted in the common decency Trump lacks.

Trump won the White House in a contest against Hillary Clinton. Both candidates have been described as the lowest scoring in the history of polling on the likability of presidential candidates. The distrust of Clinton stems mostly from her long time on the public stage and for older voters, the memory of her husband’s administration and a style of politics characterized by constant partisan warfare.

Trump, on the other hand, is despised not for his record in public service, but mainly because most people recognize he fails to meet the minimum standards of someone we would invite into our own lives, if we had a choice.

When asked by others to give Trump a chance, or lend my support now that he is the president, I cannot and I do not see my reluctance as un-patriotic. Deep skepticism of Trump is the only appropriate response to what we are about to thrust on ourselves as a consequence of our vote.

Donald Trump is not a man most people would hire for their own business, he is not a man we would choose to have dinner with, welcome into our home, hold up as an example to our children or welcome into our family. At this common sense level, setting aside experience and policies, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and we should not ignore these basic truths in the misplaced hope that treating Trump as if he is a normal human being will make him so.

We are left only to hope for the best. To hope that after January 20th; Congress, the Supreme Court and ultimately the American people, keep this reckless, selfish man, who three months after meeting him has failed to show a modicum of decency by apologizing to President Obama for leading the “Obama is not an American movement,” and who has failed to apologize to the many people and groups of people he vilified to win the White House; that somehow this petty man will suddenly become worthy of the job we have remarkably given him.

The burden is on Trump to win our respect, the burden is not on the American people to forget who and what he really is, and there is nothing un-American about saying so.




Photojournalism for Brands and Ideas.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Trump Imposes US Ban on WeChat, TikTok in 45 Days

Dear French People

The End of America

It Takes A Lot Of Education To Keep Us This Stupid

The correspondence problem

Reflections on the Lebanese situation

Reflections on the Lebanese situation

Trump as a Second Language

Populism and the Social Fabric of the International Order

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dean Pagani

Dean Pagani

Photojournalism for Brands and Ideas.

More from Medium

A Few Albums with Covers That Are More Collectible than the Records

Mormon Unorthodox: A Religion Only Half Left Behind


quiet dignity