Donald J. Trump is not my president.
Don’t get me wrong. He was duly elected to the office under the rules laid down in our Constitution. So Donald Trump holds his office legitimately. He is now the president of the United States.
But he is the president, not my president. And you know what? That’s just fine. None of them have been my president. I have liked some of the people who held that office more and some less, but I have never felt the need to refer to any of them with the possessive pronoun.
It’s revealing that this seems to be so important for the left. One of the big rallying cries of their newly launched “resistance” to President Trump is to declare that he is “not my president.” This can be seen as a rejection of the actual legal legitimacy of his presidency, but I don’t think that explains it. It actually has to do with their expectation of some kind of personal relationship with the man in the nation’s highest political office. Which is weird, right?
Consider the person they accepted as “their” president and what this meant to them. Remember the absurd gushing of those who thought former President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 was “one of the most meaningful and important experiences of my life.” Or take “Saturday Night Live,” which long since decided Obama was off-limits for anything approaching actual humor, and therefore decided to bid the ex-president farewell last weekend by serenading him with a sappy song originally sung to Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love. Because nothing says “hip and with it” like a pop culture reference from 1967.
I was going to embed the video, but it’s just painfully maudlin, and the SNL version is badly sung, so follow the links at your own risk. Here is a sample of the lyrics.
And as I leave
I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong
And weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn
What, what can I give you in return?
It makes that fake Trump inauguration poem seem almost restrained.
This seems an odd and obscure choice and also somewhat condescending. I guess they were looking for an ode to a black man who makes educated white people feel super-comfortable, and Sidney Poitier immediate came to mind. But notice also the self-infantilization. This was originally a song sung by children to a father-figure-like teacher. What does that say about how SNL and its viewers (who loved it) regard Obama?
The absurdity of this adulation is that Obama’s legacy will be almost nonexistent in terms of policy. Republicans in Congress and the administration are currently busy dismantling ObamaCare and the Climate Action Plan, among many other things. In terms of politics, Obama leaves the Democratic Party in ruins and unable to offer much resistance. Apparently that isn’t what his presidency was really about. Judging from these tributes, he is regarded almost as a kind of spiritual leader. But that’s not right, either, because spiritually he didn’t lead so much as he followed. (For example, he flipped his position on gay marriage at the exact moment the polls flipped.) It is perhaps more accurate to say that Obama functions as a kind of spiritual talisman.
The need for this sense of a personal bond with the president, for the adulation of a wise leader, goes way beyond the desire to achieve any particular political goal. It is a fundamental need that is inherent in modern leftism. Their whole agenda is to give more power and authority to the government. So it is of paramount importance to them that the government is run by the right kind of people, people with the right kind of education, the proper progressive values and attitude—in short, people like them. That’s what Obama meant to them. He was their president, which means: at last, one of their kind was given the reins of supreme executive power. And Republicans were bad because they didn’t just get out of his way and let him exercise it.
This also explains why they’re so deeply traumatized by the rise of Trump and have now suddenly discovered the virtues of faux “resistance.” They worked hard to amass all this power, only to have it fall into the hands of such a colossal boor. Funny how that works.
The fact that Trump is relatively unpopular, the fact that he had relatively low turnout for his inauguration (whatever his people might claim), may actually be the silver lining of this whole disastrous election cycle. Donald Trump has his cadre of uncritical admirers, who believe in the importance of his unerring personal judgment and skill. But at least that group is relatively small and far less influential than Obama’s media fan club.
It might be good for people to realize that not every president is going to be “their” president, and that maybe it’s a bad idea to expect him to be. They might even begin to realize that having a government that’s smaller and more limited means that you have to worry a lot less about whether or not a president is “yours.” Which, I can tell you, is a very liberating attitude to have right now.