Not long after the November 2016 national election, in which Donald Trump won the Presidency of the United States over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, my 13-year old granddaughter asked me how I cast my vote for President. Before I could answer her, she somewhat sarcastically added: Probably Trump, right? She was old enough, and had seen and heard enough during the long campaign season, to have come to the conclusion that, well, I MUST have voted for Mr. Trump since I was an older man and therefore I was probably not going to vote for a woman for President.
She was surprised to learn that in fact I had voted for Secretary Clinton. I explained that I had my concerns about Secretary Clinton, but those concerns had zero to do with her gender. I further explained that, although she was highly qualified and capable, my concerns were influenced by her policy stands, and with my retirement days growing near, I really preferred a different philosophy, one more in line with improving my economic situation that I felt would be more successfully addressed by a conservative President.
So, my inquisitive granddaughter then asked me: So why did you vote for Sec. Clinton? I told her that, quite simply, I really did not care for how Mr. Trump treated people. Whatever my political and economic views, it was wrong for someone who aspires to lead our nation and our citizenry to approach that crucial role with a cavalier belligerence and arrogance toward well-meaning people. It is not possible to truly succeed as the leader of the free world by building up our nation by tearing down our people and our institutions.
After nearly two years of the Trump Presidency, my perceptions in 2016 have modulated and evolved in some ways, and been disappointingly confirmed in others. Some very good things have happened in our economy. I do think that there has been a re-evaluation of the United States of America throughout the world, and that other nations realize that it is no longer business as usual. There is no doubt that we are regaining our footing in many ways.
There has, however, been a price to pay.
That is where the national reaction to the passing of President George H.W. Bush becomes understandable. We all, of course, mourn the loss, and pay respect to any person who has been our President, our leader, and who has sacrificed so much to bear the stress, the difficulty, the demands and the sometimes virulent criticism that is integral to serving as the President of the Unites States. President Trump is no exception
But you must be literally thunderstruck by the deluge of gratitude, homage, respect, admiration, wistfulness and love shown by not just the broad political class, but even more so by our fellow, everyday citizens, towards our 41st President. Those emotions, the spontaneous outpouring of grief and gratefulness, the tens of thousands of people at the nation’s Capital who want to spend a moment or two to say Thank You, the mothers and fathers who bring their children to pay respect to President Bush, and quietly and somberly explain to their own children and granddaughters and grandsons who this man was and why it’s so important to honor him in this way.
This kind of reaction is no accident. I think that most people in this country have been so inundated by the tone and tenor of our elected leaders, by the viciousness of many in ALL segments of the press, that we have forgotten how to recognize the signs of class, of concern for our fellow Americans, of the benefits of bipartisanship, of forgiveness, and of the willingness to listen.
I mourn the loss of President Bush, particularly for his family and friends. But it has unleashed something in our nation, and in all of us, that I almost believed was totally gone and unrecoverable. It is the newly resurrected realization that one truly kinder, gentler man or woman has the power and the impact to bring all of the great citizens of the United States of America together again, as one, in saying Thank You and God Bless You Mr. President. I pray that our leaders honestly and truly recognize the signs President Bush has left behind, and embrace them fully to preserve our precious nation.
2 thoughts on “A Kinder, Gentler Man”
jhiii24….thanks for your thoughtful reply! You elaborated further on the ‘price to pay’ I mentioned regarding some of the changes brought about by the current presidential administration. Part of that price has been an almost repellent reaction to the words, actions and attitudes of the current administration. I too witnessed a large part of the tribute to President Bush, and was also struck by the demonstrable change in the atmosphere as the current President arrived. He did not appear to appreciate the happily humorous stories, and compelling narratives about Mr. Bush that flowed from all who spoke. I suspect that part of his demeanor was a result of knowing deep down, that there would be no such comparable outpouring for himself. He has time to change that. I hope he takes advantage of the moment.
But amazingly again in today’s events in Texas to honor President Bush, the real story and realizations about this man served as such a tremendous shot in the arm for our nation. All of us needed to see and feel the genuine love of our country, the compassion he felt for all of us. It was returned to him by the thousands across the country and the millions observing from afar. At least today, I have regained my hope and optimism that our nation and people are strong and steady, and that while a single person can inspire us to be strong and serve and hope, there is NO one person who alone can destroy the true American spirit in all of us. DH
Having just spent the past few hours watching the news coverage of the farewell services for the 41st President of the United States, it’s clear that not only was George H. W. Bush a great father, grandfather, husband, and friend to many, but also a world leader of a certain quality and character that stands in stark contrast to the current occupant of the White House. Bush 41 was not a perfect leader and he didn’t get everything right to be sure, but the same could be said of every world leader since the dawn of time. What distinguished our 41st President was the values he held dear, and his emphasis in life which was to infuse every role he undertook with the purpose of serving others, and providing the best effort he could to honor those values.
I’m not a fan of our current President, but my disappointment isn’t based on his policies or on his political views. So much of the precise merit one can attribute to such aspects of a leader are mostly subjective, and for what it’s worth, in spite of everything that’s happened so far in his Presidency, almost all of my disappointment has nothing to do with what he has proposed as policy. It is mostly about the almost total disregard for anything other than his own self-interest. However you view him as an administrator of our government, it is his performance as a human being and as the most prominent representative of our nation that disappoints the most.
Watching the live coverage of all the living Presidents in the cathedral before President Trump showed up was heartwarming and reassuring. When Trump finally arrived the whole atmosphere changed. Just about every time the camera was focused on him, it seemed like he would rather have been anywhere else in the world than where he was. Hoping that the eulogies of Bush 41 might penetrate Trump’s “wall” of disregard for any consideration other than his own, seems unlikely to have occurred, and while it’s hard to say for sure if any of those tributes to Bush 41 got through to him, there could be no doubt that the contrast was striking in almost every category.
I honestly only wish our current President would just take a couple of steps back and reflect on the importance of TRULY putting “America first,” and by that to mean putting the success of our nation above his own, the way that Bush 41 did so clearly.
Thanks for sharing this great story about your conversation with your granddaughter. Our best hope for a better tomorrow exists within the generous hearts and curious minds of our future generations.