Imagine if the 45th President of the United States had been humbled by his office that he narrowly won four years ago. Imagine if he would have opened his presidency by saying something like “It has been a contentious campaign, I recognize that I have a tendency to speak in hyperbolic terms that can come across as arrogant. But I pledge to you now that I will seek to grow in this office as I endeavor to lead the American people to come together to work on solutions and not exacerbate the problems.” Imagine that on day one he didn’t contest the reporting of crowd sizes at his inauguration, but rather showed gratitude and was honored that people showed up to witness history.
Imagine if he had been willing to admit shortcomings and had been willing to apologize when making mistakes. Imagine if Donald Trump would have smiled more. Imagine if he would have listened to others, imagine if he would have trusted that others might posses expertise and experience that he doesn’t have. Imagine if instead of saying “There are fine people on both sides” he would have condemned white supremacy in all of its forms. Imagine if he had honored Elijah Cummings, John McCain, and John Lewis. Imagine if he refrained from calling others childish nicknames and engaging in belittling rhetoric.
Imagine if Donald Trump would have listened to the warnings from Dr. Fauci and others about the dangers of Covid-19. Imagine if that when he did know, he would have told the truth to the American people instead of purposely downplaying its dangers. Imagine if he hadn’t labeled the press, who are part of the only profession protected by the Constitution, the enemy of the people. Just imagine.
If Donald Trump would have been willing to engage in self reflection and recognize as we all do, that we need help to learn, grow, improve, just imagine how different his Presidency might have been. With his achievements of prison reform, historic peace agreements in the Middle East, and a booming economy prior to the pandemic, this President was in a position to fundamentally change the GOP for the better. He was in a position to attract new voters, including those in Black and Hispanic communities into the party, but alas Donald Trump couldn’t escape the single greatest impediment to success. Himself.
I have observed throughout his Presidency that the rhetoric and personal behavior of Trump wouldn’t be tolerated if this were anyone else in our personal or professional lives. If our mayor, police chief, city councilmen, pastors, mail carriers, or dog catchers said some of the things Donald Trump has said, they would be universally condemned and lose their standing in our communities. Donald Trump has said all of them. He has followed them up with actions that are clearly hurtful and harmful to marginalized constituents. He implemented a policy that separated children from their parents at the border. Some 500 children are still separated from their parents as a direct result of this President’s policies.
Imagine if instead of constantly campaigning since entering office, he would have explored ways to unite the country. Imagine if early on he hadn’t dismissed the Coronavirus as a ‘Democratic hoax.’ Imagine if he would have been more active and vocal about folks wearing mask to mitigate the spread. Imagine if he had modeled this behavior, instead of making fun of those that did.
The failings of this President will have implications for the next generation of Republicans and Evangelicals who supported him, claiming that the appointment of judges was worth it. Both Republicans and Evangelicals are now forced to grapple with the ramifications of claiming that the ‘ends justify the means.’ Things could have been different.
Just imagine if President Trump graciously accepted the outcome of this election where he lost in larger margins to Joe Biden than in his win against Hillary Clinton. Imagine if Donald Trump followed the example of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama in 2016 as they conceded, congratulated, and cooperated with the transition of Donald Trump into the White House.