The Incredible Shrinking American Leadership

There was a time not so long ago that countries and the people that inhabit them looked up to the leadership of the United States as a shining example of how to manage a peaceful and powerful society. The undoing of this public persona has been accelerated greatly by the current Executive Administration through its insistence that leadership should reflect and embody some of the poorest qualities of its citizens.

Current and former White House officials are arguing that reactions to Donald Trump’s comments regarding so called “shithole” countries is nothing more than elitists misunderstanding the way every American thinks, speaks, and acts.

For example, a former White House official stated:

“It’s a classic example of how D.C. and New York react versus how the rest of the country reacts,” said one former White House official. “What people in the media class still don’t understand is that this guy talks like a normal person and that’s why he won in the first place. I’m sorry if it offends the media’s delicate sensibilities but the reality is more Americans speak like President Trump than speak like [CNN anchor] Jim Acosta.”

I’m not convinced that “more Americans speak like President Trump.” Even if such a thing is true, why is that sort of behavior and language considered acceptable and actively encouraged in a society where we should be striving to always improve ourselves and the human condition? There are enough problems in the world without impacting them with obviously racist approaches to domestic and foreign policy.

Supporters of this kind of sentiment will often rely on defending the literal words rather than the broader meaning and implications behind them. Here are just some of the intellectually dishonest defenses of such behaviors:

The countries really are poor and starved, so the statements are true!

In the context of immigration policy, discriminating based on the country of origin is prejudiced. A person’s skills and capabilities aren’t defined by their birth place but rather the quality of their character. The belief that poor countries produce poor people is fallacious. Therefore we can confidently dismiss this defense.

If the countries are so nice, why don’t people stay there?

The United States was founded by people united in the wake of oppression, struggles, and injustices. The founders were of course of European descent, but our government was setup to support the absorption of disenfranchised people of all descents, creeds, backgrounds, religions, and beliefs. Rejecting immigrants by measures such as the source country or the color of one’s skin is wrong, detrimental, illogical, and ignores the history of immigration in the United States.

Take a second to reflect on the waves of immigration in the United States during its short 242 years.

  • 1500 – 1815 > English, French, and Spanish colonialists (persecution, opportunity seeking) and African/Caribbean slave trade (forced)
  • 1815 – 1880 > Irish, German, Chinese (due to poverty or opportunity seeking)
  • 1880 – 1920 > Italian, Eastern Europeans (due to religious persecution, poverty, or opportunity seeking)
  • 1920 – 1960 > European (due to religious persecution, escaping war, opportunity seeking)
  • 1960 – Now > Asian, Latin (due to poverty, escaping war, opportunity seeking)

Some of the common themes in all generations of immigration waves include escaping war, escaping persecution, or seeking new opportunities. Literally no other country on Earth has had the unique opportunity or reputation to accept people from every imaginable background into a united society of hard workers, entrepreneurs, and freedom seekers.

That’s how his supporters in the bar talk. He may be vulgar, but that’s just who he is.

Why is that a good thing? Should we begin electing the local drunks to public offices? The President should be someone who represents the best that our country has to offer. If being belligerent and racist is “just who he is” then he isn’t qualified to represent the United States.

He’s not a politician so he doesn’t understand how to phrase things.

Donald Trump became a politician the second he announced his candidacy for President. Regardless, that’s entirely beside the point. Being outside of the political spectrum for the entirety of your career doesn’t exempt you from being a decent human being. People often confuse being a “straight shooter” or “politically incorrect” as a license to say whatever you want and whenever you want. Constant insults, bigotry, and racism are degrading, unbecoming of the office to which he was elected, and drag down the reputation of everyone in our society.

Instead of tweeting during his “Executive Time,” the President should try educating himself by reading a history book.