Wouldn’t it be insulting to be held to anything less? Whether you voted for the president elect or not, I hope that you’ll read this and find yourself agreeing.
The President of the United States is a position that demands the highest moral character. There’s not much to say about the office that you don’t already know; POTUS commands a huge military, negotiates international treaties, sets domestic policy directions that can affect the world’s largest economy, and has been described as leader of the free world. And sure, there are the nukes. There’s a lot at stake. We expect the executive in charge to uphold the best standard among us.
Have all, most — or even — many US Presidents lived up to that standard? I’d say no. When they’ve fallen short, have we generally called that out as a failure? I’d say generally yes. That’s as it should be.
We expect Mr. Trump to live up to the standard like all other presidents. If he falls short, we must call that out as we would for every other president. Given that Mr. Trump is generally considered the least politically experienced president-elect in US history — and many consider that a good thing — then the level of scrutiny must be even higher because less is understood about how he’ll govern. The leash is that much shorter. But it’s the same one we hold every president on.
If Mr. Trump fails to uphold that standard, we can’t excuse failures as “yeah but X would have been better/worse”. When there was a choice between Mr. Trump and X in a matter, then “X would be better/worse” was an argument to ponder and debate, as it was for the last year and change.
But we just made the choice that Mr. Trump is the president elect. He stands on his own and answers for his own actions. If it helps, try the “Rick Astley test”: if the point “yeah but Rick Astley would have been better/worse” adds as much weight to your argument as “yeah but X would have been better/worse”, maybe reconsider the point. This is pretty hard to get your mind to do and takes a lot of practice.
Trump has a checkered past, perhaps more so than recent presidents elect; at the very least, less is known about his finances and business operations. But others have had checkered pasts too. Past behavior doesn’t lower the bar of expectations or excuse failings. If anything, that makes us more vigilant in watching for more smoke that might be coming from underlying fires.
To do all this, we need the help of government watchdogs. Please pay for your free press. Please promise to resist the temptation to propagate false “news” — of any ideological slant — no matter how tempting. It’s very hard to resist and we’ll fail sometimes.
If you’ve made it this far and you find yourself unable to agree with the statement:
Mr. Trump: We’re holding you to the highest standard
then I’m genuinely curious why and would appreciate it if you left a comment here. Thanks!