From George Washington to Donald Trump, there have been a long line of American presidents with varying degrees of success. Some were unpopular and others were superstars. President Trump will undoubtedly be remembered as a reality talk show host who became president after a campaign marred with foreign interference, and a presidency of subterfuge, “alternative truths” and Covid 19, as well as being the biggest sore loser in the history of the American Presidency.
Currently, President Trump is seeking all types of litigation to overturn the results of the latest Presidential election. By all accounts, Trump was defeated by Vice President Biden--losing the popular vote and the electoral vote. Impeachment-woes have marred his presidency. Tweets and offensive language consume his repertoire. Forbes predicted the 2020 Election Polls reporting that Trump was down 12 points, and he trailed in key swing states (Andrew Solender Forbes Staff). 39 White House staffers have either been fired or left the Trump administration: One of the greatest turnovers in history. A few staffers have come out publicly to slam his administration, write a tell-all book, or make frequent televised appearance to denounce the GOP. Nonetheless, all Presidents procure some type of legacy to leave behind for the American people and for the world to muse over for decades to come. Trump’s legacy may be a hodgepodge of indiscretions, indecisions, and indifferences towards people of color with the total failure of stemming a pandemic that has only been recorded once, a hundred years ago, in America.
Distinction or Obscurity
Being the forty-fourth president of the United States gave Trump a long line of presidents to make comparisons with. How will he stack up among the greats? George Washington’s legacy is unchallengeable —he was the first President of the United States. Artist have depicted Washington standing fast with his troops at Valley Forge even though the climatic conditions were extreme and unhospitable.
Washington remarked that he would be the first in a long line of, hopefully, many American Presidents to come. He felt constrained to set a principled precedent for others to follow. He was quoted as saying, “But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with”.
Contrary to Washington’s heroic posture, cameras depict Trump standing on the White House balcony, infected with Covid 19, struggling for air, ripping off a mask, and saluting a military helicopter in the midst of 200,000 plus American deaths due to the virus.
One of the public’s first image of President Trump was at the FBI headquarters, while standing behind a podium with the backdrop of the north wall in the lobby of the CIA’s headquarters in Northern Virginia. The wall is decorated with 117 stars, each star is carved into the white Vermont marble to commemorate a CIA employee killed in the line of duty. CIA Director John Brennan, who resigned when President Obama left office, said, “For anyone who wants to understand the essence of the CIA, one need look no further than this hallowed wall….If President Trump was aware of that, he hardly acknowledged it in his remarks at CIA headquarters on Saturday”.
During this engagement Trump appeared to ramble a campaign-style speech, touching on everything from his appearances on the cover of Time magazine (“I think we have the all-time record”) to Islamic extremism to the size of his inauguration crowd. He blamed the media for creating tension between him and the intelligence community, which he repeatedly vilified during his transition and compared to Nazis.
Though he received applause from the attendees (all of whom had signed up to see him), Trump’s remarks were salt in the wound for others in the intelligence community, Brennan continued by saying that the speech was a “despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes….” Other intelligence and diplomatic officials acquiesced. “It’s simply inappropriate to engage in self obsession on a spot that memorializes those who obsessed about others, and about mission, more than themselves,” former CIA acting director John McLaughlin told the New Yorker.
Trump Pales in Comparison
In his first week in office, Trump also created concern among allies by supporting waterboarding, insisting that the North American Free Trade Agreement was ineffective, and that Mexico will pay for a wall along the U.S. border (Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, The Washington Post)
Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) left legacies of heroism—they were forward thinking and responsible for groundbreaking decision making. Their personal indiscretions were hidden from the public during their tenures but what was known about their presidency was noteworthy.
Lincoln will always be remembered for his vital role as the leader in preserving the Union during the Civil War and beginning the process (Emancipation Proclamation) that led to the end of slavery in the United States. He will forever be regarded with a measurable amount of endearment.
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FDR Franklin Delano Roosevelt is often rated by scholars as among the top three U.S. Presidents along with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. He was the longest serving president in the history of United States winning a record four presidential elections and serving from 1933 to 1945. Roosevelt came into office at the lowest point in the country’s worst ever depression and countered it through his program for relief, recovery, and reform, famous as the New Deal. He then led America through World War II, playing an instrumental role in the defeat of the Axis Powers.
JFK took America out of recession and carried out several important reforms in the domestic front. Internationally, he was involved in several major events, most notability the Cuban Missile Crisis which threatened nuclear war between U.S. and the Soviet Union. Also known for establishing the Peace Corps and for one of the most famous quotes of American politics, “Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country.”
Being first is always a distinguished honor if one does it well. Barak Obama was the first African American President of America, and by many accounts he did his job well. He won for two terms and was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people”. Obama’s Affordable Care Act revolutionized healthcare, in part by creating a program that offered insurance to people with pre-existing conditions who had been shut out of the insurance system. By 2014, the economy benefited from having 95% of the population on health insurance by mandate.
Obama’s family-oriented approach to living in the White House opened the doors for many well received events and dedications that made the underrepresented American feel understood. And his impromptu singing of Amazing Grace during the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in a shooting at a Charleston church solidified his presidency as the peoples’ president for countless Americans.
Disservice to the Office
America’s presidency is about more than just one man boasting, “I alone can fix it”. One president assumes power upon the heels of the departing president. As such, a continuous reign of power is a peaceful transition. Other Presidents of the modern era inclusive of Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton all contributed to the shaping of our present-day democracy with a constructive resolve and each adhered to the peaceful transition of power.
Trump has publicly indicated that he will not accept a peaceful transition of power, and as of late he has held true to his word. After losing the bid for the White House he has remained silent and out of sight, except for a brief appearance on Veteran's Day. He tweets quite often that he has won the Presidency against all evidence suggesting the contrary.
He has shunned all types of science when it involves the coronavirus (embracing bigotry, he refers to the virus as the China virus), and he ignites racial division among Americans whenever possible. He has become infected with the very illness that he coined as a hoax created by the democratic party. On July 13, 2020 the Washington Post reported that Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims (Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly). Videos of him have surfaced of his many contradictions and lies while he has taken familial nepotism to an all- time high.
What Will Live in Infamy?
“In his first public event since leaving Walter Reed Medical Center..., President Trump who continues to remain silent about whether he is now free of the virus, instead, dangerously called on his supporters to gather on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday to hear him deliver hateful remarks directed at his political opponents” (Peter Wade Rolling Stone).
As such, when Trump was running for election in 2016, he made the following plea to African Americans,” You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed," he continued. "What the hell do you have to lose? "You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed," he continued. "What the hell do you have to lose?
On October 10, 2020,Trump appeared to try a more user-friendly approach to reel in the black vote—he invited several African Americans to the lawn of the White House while he stood on the balcony, infected, and called out to them; looking down as an overseer.
However, it should be noted that even though George Washington owned slaves, he freed all of them in his will—Washington has been remembered for this. Unfortunately, Trump will have a very dark legacy and will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most childish behaving adults ever to sit behind the resolute desk in the Oval Office. Not conceding to Biden has put the country in a tail spend that may take decades to repair. Moreover, the jury is still out on the magnitude of his vindictive nature.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.