Spare Me Your Sudden Concern about Division

Spare Me Your Sudden Concern about Division April 29, 2020

There was a Facebook post defending Trump that went viral in March. Maybe you’ve seen it. It featured a blurry profile picture of the president and it said:

Just stop for a minute and look at this photo. This is NOT a political post by any means. This is simply something that everyone should stop and think about. 

Can you imagine the weight he must be feeling right now? When he signed up for this role (without pay) he did it for us Americans. He didn’t do it for the fame or glory, he had all that. He was willing to take on whatever, but the magnitude of what we’re currently experiencing has got to be paralyzing. And to some, NOTHING he does is ever right or good enough. 

Do you ever wonder how he must be dealing with it all? When his head finally hits the pillow at night after press conferences and meetings, constantly trying to defend himself and protect our country.

Does he break down and cry from all the pressure?
Is he scared and confused?
Is he even able to sleep?
Can he shut his mind off at all? 

Or does he lay there and talk to God all night praying for strength and answers? 

Whether he’s making you proud or not, look at this photo and ask God to soften your heart just a little bit and lift this man up in prayer. He needs them right now more than ever. He is carrying the weight of OUR country on his shoulders and I don’t think anybody could or would be doing a better job then he is. 

Feel free to share this post and remind everyone to be kind and to pray for President Trump and for the entire world  [sic]

Let’s ignore the nonsense about the sacrifice Trump made to seek out the most powerful position in the world, and focus on the gist of this post: Don’t criticize the president because this is hard. 

News flash folks, this is what leading a country is all about. It’s about handling enormous pressure and high-stakes challenges while the world watches. That’s literally all the position is. You can’t ask Americans to feel bad for critiquing the president for doing his job—especially while tens of thousands of Americans die. 

The hypocrisy of divisiveness 

If you’ve criticized the way Trump has handled this pandemic, you’ve almost certainly had someone call you out for being divisive. You’ll inevitably get a comment like this:

“We all need to come together right now, and you’re just sharing these thoughts to be divisive. We’ve all got to come together right now.”  

It’s crazy that someone could say that and not see the irony—especially when so many of us wish we had a president who wasn’t so discordant and difficult. The only time he calls for unity is when he’s reading from prepared statements. The second he ad-libs or speaks for himself, he goes after governors, the press, and other nations. 

True leaders don’t demand unity; they demonstrate and personify it. They make friends out of enemies and demonstrate grace in the face of criticism. But Trump is personified by a childish need to lash out at those who question or challenge him. This trait is what drew so many disaffected and frustrated voters in his direction. They see the world through an us-vs-them lens, and they admired the guy who communicated the same sense of loathing they felt. 

While the nation hungers for a leader that pulls us together, we have to listen to Trump call governors half wits and demand that they bow and scrape to him in order to get the necessary supplies to serve their constituents. 

After being reminded that he didn’t have total authority to control states, he promised to “allow” governors to open up on their own timetable. Less than 24 hours later, he was using Twitter to encourage states with democrat leadership to LIBERATE themselves. Folks, this is the opposite of unity. 

To suggest that critiquing a leader creates disharmony while you celebrate their constant hostility and enmity is ludicrous. But that’s the problem. Trump’s supporters have crafted this binary villain-hero narrative. If you’re not for Trump, you’re a villain. And it’s not disharmony to attack a villain. 

This is why none of these folks get on anyone’s case for attacking “snowflakes” or democrat governors. They’re the bad guys, and they deserve to be chastened. 

Success should have been simple

One concern that you hear over and over again from Trump supporters is “You just want Trump to fail.” That’s stupid and ridiculous. Trump’s failures cost Americans the lives of their loved ones. No one wanted him to fail—and it would have been so easy for him to succeed. 

All he had to do was: 

  • Respondly swiftly 
  • Listen to experts
  • Demonstrate compassion and empathy 

That’s it. If he had been able to pull off those three simple things, his poll numbers would have been untouchable. But as easy as it would have been for a moderately competent leader to pull off those three items, Trump is completely incapable. 

A crisis like this pits all of Trump’s terrible character traits against one another. He believes he’s smarter and more capable than he is, which means that he’s going to ramble incoherently about stuff he doesn’t understand, and then he’s going to be vindictive when reporters ask him about it or experts contradict him. 

While leaders around the world have used press briefings as opportunities to reassure the public and demonstrate sympathy and compassion, Trump has used them to grandstand and gaslight the public. He’s demanded appreciation. He’s shown campaign commercials. He’s made empty promises and pushed non-medical advice. 

Literally the only thing he had to do was empower experts and get out of their way. But he can’t even stop himself from centering himself in a crisis. And as his inability to lead has created havoc (and put lives at risk), it’s only made him more compulsive about being out front and pushing more important voices to the margins. 

The only way you can look at Trump’s performance as a success is to ignore the details, ignore the outcome, and ignore the rest of the planet. 

If you care about division, prove it

I had one Trump-supporting family member pull the division card on me. What’s interesting is that years ago at a family gathering, Obama was on the television with an NBA player, and this family member said to me, “Look at these two monkeys.” I wish I was kidding.

A majority of these people feigning concern about unity don’t really care. They’re happy going after anyone that doesn’t think like them, look like them, or worship like them. They just don’t want to deal with the cognitive dissonance that criticism of Trump’s behavior causes them.

But people are dying, and it’s ridiculous to demand blind unity in such a high-stakes environment. Be the unity you want to see in the world, folks. That doesn’t mean ignoring and silencing dissension; it means recognizing legitimate concerns and frustrations. 

Because when you get down to it, the family members of the 56,000+ dead Americans don’t really care if this pandemic causes the president undue stress. Dealing with stress is the job.

 

 

 

 

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