What Do We Expect From Our President?
POTUS Approval Survey
Does Donald J. Trump fill your expectations as President of the United States?
Donald J. Trump is President of the United States
I promised myself I wouldn’t do this again.
I thought my ranting days were over and I could sit back and relax as I tried to rebuild my sanity. Sadly, this could not be. Too much has happened. Holding back the onslaught of transitory thoughts kept at bay from my mouth and writing by my failing amygdala proved to be too much. I had to pull the steam escape valve and write about this.
Literally, contrary to popular demand, Donald Trump has won the presidential election by a greater margin never seen in US history. The people spoke and the gerrymandering silenced them. The result? We have Trump as the most powerful man in the world.
As I write this, I realize that Donald Trump will have a planet shattering orgasm reading it. He will release harder than any man who’s succeeded in auto erotic asphyxiation. And trust me, I know the amount of “mental Brillo” you’re going to need in getting that image out of your head.
I wake up screaming with that nightmare in my head.
But I digress.
The fact is Donald Trump is President of the United States. He has the nuke codes. He has the ClA, the IRS, the FBI, the NSA, and every other multi-letter acronym the executive branch can make. I don’t need to prove his tissue paper thin skin and emotional immaturity are not suitable for his office because he proves it every day with his Twitter account.
Anyone who watched him in any of the three Presidential Debates and then read through what the fact checkers found would know he’s not emotionally stable enough to deal with other world leaders. If he couldn’t handle Hillary Clinton and the press for two hours, how can he handle his peers around the world?
As I write this, Trump has been in office for three weeks. In that time, he has signed at least twenty-two executive actions and eight of those were executive orders. Ironically, he’s now angry that he wasn’t briefed over one of his OWN orders. It was the one he’d signed regarding his national security advisor pick, Stephen Bannon.
He’s already gotten a lot of backlash over signing the repeal and replacing of the Affordable Care Act. Trump Supporters are just shocked he wasn’t going to keep it – despite the fact he said he was going to remove it on his first day. Adults over twenty-six who voted for Trump have now discovered they can no longer stay on their parents’ health insurance policy.
The poorly executed and hastily written travel ban against Muslims has been internationally criticized as a bad move. Currently, it has been suspended within the courts. Trump’s failure to understand the Schoolhouse Rock video regarding the separation of powers, will prove his downfall.
All these things can be laid at the Trump’s feet.
According to the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s approval rating is under 50% which is the lowest of any incoming President. Why are Americans dissatisfied?
Perhaps it’s time to ask some basic questions. Outside of working for his father, Trump has never had to answer to anyone outside his stockholders. Most people, when they find themselves on the wrong end of a job appraisal or who are about to be fired, ask their boss three basic questions.
- What are your expectations of me?
- What is your code of conduct?
- What am I doing wrong?
Donald Trump is the President of the United States. He’s the leader of the free world. What are our expectations of him?
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Expectation #1 – We expect a dedicated effort to do the country good.
For those of you who read my articles, you know I’m really into comic books and superheroes. Spider-man is one of my favorites. The big message we get from that title is “with great power comes great responsibility.” It’s what Peter Parker learned from his Uncle Ben. It’s what keeps him going. As Spider-man he must use his great power responsibly.
If he doesn’t, he’s no greater than the villains he fights.
Yeah, I know. It’s fiction. That shouldn’t be your take away from this.
Donald Trump is the most powerful man in the world (once again, I’m really sorry about that earlier image). He is the commander and chief. As he continues to wield executive power – power that we, the people, gave him through The Constitution – he has a responsibility to use this power wisely and for the benefit of our country.
It’s implied in chosen leadership.
The tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table say the secret of the grail, according to Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory, is that the land and the king were one. As the king thrives, the land prospers. Should the king fail, the land fails. While there was a quasi-mystical element to the story, Arthur was England. The message is a simple one. The King rules to benefit the country.
Yeah, I know. It’s still fiction. The take away is our leader must want the country to do well and love it as much as himself. He needs to take the office seriously
The thing about being king is that it’s a lot like owning a dog.
I love dogs. I’ve owned four since becoming an adult. I had one as a child. The first thing my dad told me was that a dog was a responsibility. It’s true. You have to feed, walk, and care for your dog. What my dad didn’t have to tell me was something you don’t have to tell anyone who’s not a sociopath. Simply, you need to love the dog, too. Love the dog right and it will love you back. Truth being told, dogs can be pretty stupid, but they do know one thing above everything else – they know when they’re not being loved.
A master who cares and loves his dog will have a faithful, loyal dog.
When you think about all of the things the government is doing to the middle class and the lower class, it can get maddening. Like dogs, people are relatively complacent most of the time, until they realize they’re getting screwed. Even then, they’ve fatally optimistic that the screwing is only temporary and convince themselves things will get better.
Until they don’t.
What we, as Americans, expect of our leader, in exchange for a peaceful transition of power from one elected leader to the next is trust. We trust the President to lead us responsibly and the President trusts us to not revolt and put his head on a guillotine before putting it on a spike.
Our expectation is for the President to actually take some time, consideration, and care to faithfully execute the will of the people in line with the Constitution we drew up. That’s essentially what the Oath of Office is about.
That’s the gig.
We expect him to serve us for the greater good. We expect him to govern the tax collected resources we give him (through Congress) to do the right thing and keep this country running properly.
So, we’re asking for his dedicated effort to lead this country responsibly for the good of the people – all the people – not just the top one percent.
Integrity and Ethics Mean He has to do the Right Thing
Expection #2 – Integrity and Personal Ethics.
As unrealistic as it seems, we expect our President to be a man of his word. When he makes a promise on the campaign trail, we expect him, at least, to try to keep it.
To use the employee appraisal analogy, these are self-made objectives. When people work for someone, many times, they are asked to set goals for themselves. So, if I were a salesman, one of my goals would be to set a personal quota. Another would be to recruit new talent for the company. These are goals and an oral contract between employee and employer.
However, keeping your word is only part of having integrity. The other is to have personal integrity which boils down to ethics. The President’s moral code should be in alignment with the norm. We expect him to be a good person and not have any conflicts of interest.
No one is drafted into becoming President of the United States. Should a man seek the office, he should be free of prior entanglements. The Ethics committee calls these “emoluments” – which in this case means “profits from another source outside his office”.
In Trump’s case, the American people don’t know if he has any current entanglements to his corporate holdings. As the President-elect, he made a huge show of a showing the press the contract he’d be signing. Whether this was the actual contract or not, is a matter of speculation.
As Americans have yet to see Trump’s tax returns it’s virtually impossible to know whether or not he is free from any foreign interests or whether or not he profits from the current leadership of Trump, Inc. – currently being run by his children – a non-blind trust. Trump does maintain a position where he said he could fire his children, meaning he has not fully relinquished control of the company.
Regarding conflicts of interest, Trump’s executive order to move forward with the Dakota pipeline is a serious ethical concern as “candidate” Trump had invested monies in the pipeline. As President, his moving forward with this is a clear conflict of interest.
There is also the issue of his stepping in as President to scold Nordstrom’s from dropping his daughter’s product line. How does it serve the people of the United States for the President to take a personal interest in his daughter’s business affairs?
We expect the President to be honest, forthright, and clean.
When President-elect Donald Trump swindled thousands of people out of millions of dollars (collectively) due to his direct involvement in Trump University (to which he pleaded “no contest” to a reduced settlement), Americans should question his personal ethics. In promising to do one thing and then failing to deliver on practically everything he promised, including his personal time with the students who paid up to $35,000 each, he has shown a deficit in personal integrity.
In addition to this, we expect him to obey the law of the land. No man is above the law, including and especially the President of the United States. That’s why we have a separation of power between the courts and the executive branch.
We expect him to not only have respect for the law but to also be a pillar of morality. While lying is not specifically illegal, we expect the commander and chief to be honest in his dealings. We expect him to keep his marriage sacred. We expect him to avoid worst in moral turpitude and to be the best among men.
This is what we expect. It is not realistic, because as human beings, we’re flawed. So, it’s more fitting that he keep trying to be a better person.
We need to know that our leader’s moral fiber has to be better than ours. We need to know the President has his moral compass always pointing true north.
This is why we the people find it abhorrent when the president tells a blatant falsehood through whatever medium or agent is available to him. The people of this country were disgusted with President Clinton for not only having an extramarital affair with his intern, but more importantly, that he lied about it in court.
When the President violates his moral code of ethics, people should wonder where else he might lack integrity.
You Have To Be Smart and in Control
This isn’t an easy job.
The nineteenth century statesman, Stephen Douglas (of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates), had made the analogy of fixing this country to repairing a very fine and delicate pocket watch with a sledgehammer. The direction, methods, and politics of being President require tact, diplomacy, intelligence, proper statesmanship, and thoughtful execution of his duties.
That said, I want to you consider Donald Trump's Twitter account.
Never before has a chief executive so impulsively used a device to intentionally antagonize more than half the population of this country and the international community. Nor has he even considered apologizing for his actions. At no point, has Trump considered restraint in relation to his new position as President.
When this country was divided during the Civil War, it took an extraordinary man to unite it again. Trump appears to be oblivious to the current divide. He continues to tweets one inflammatory statement after the last. Plus, there’s no good reason for it. Whether he’s tweeting about the numbers from his inauguration or how the cast of Saturday Night Live is being mean to him is unprecedented.
His behavior is unbecoming of his office.
Since the POTUS got access to Twitter, It’s been a friendly access point where the President can speak directly to the people. Obama used this mechanism conservatively. With Trump, it’s an addiction. While Obama’s messages were more folksy candid events, Trump tweets about anything that angers him. It is childish. We’ve seen him lose his composure during the Presidential debates.
Trump can’t understand that words matter and that the impulsiveness he demonstrates in his personal life reflects how people see him as President.
We expect to see our President in control of himself. If he cannot show command over his impulses, how can we expect him to manage this country, leave alone represent this country abroad?
In the book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, the author talks about “mastermind” groups. They are a group of people who are subject matter experts and personal models who can be called upon for self-improvement. Some of these people don’t physically exist. They are role models the individual has studied.
In a more practical case, when we talk about the President, it’s his cabinet.
The President’s Cabinet is composed of a group of experts who advise the President on issues regarding a section of government business. Typically, he fills these positions with qualified experts. These posts are ratified by the Senate as they are funded by Congress. It’s done to ensure we have the best and brightest in the places without conflicts of interest and who demonstrate proven competence.
Trump's have not been good picks.
Trump selected Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. She has no competence in education, learning, schools, or loaning money to candidates for Pell grants. As of this writing, she has been voted in with a deciding vote by the Vice President.
The Secretary of State was a former CEO for Exxon. He is a man whose corporate interests and affiliation with a militant dictator destroyed the middle class of Chad.
The Head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a man who has no knowledge of climate science and knows nothing about global warming.
While a clever debating man might argue some of Trump's cabinet choices are people without an agenda, so far what’s visible are a group of cronies. It is easier to argue this group of cabinet members has been put in place to fail.
Were it the objective to ruin this country and violate the trust the American people, putting the wrong people in positions of power is exactly how it would be done. However, if his selections were legitimate, he could certainly have done better.
Listening is Part of the Job
A President needs more than a bunch of “Yes” men.
Part of being a good leader means you’ll have to take constructive criticism. If you don’t know when you’re wrong, you need to listen to other opinions. Being President means you need to know about all of the angles. You need to know all of the options and you need to know the truth.
Especially if you’re screwing up.
This is why public opinion polls count. People will say good things or bad things about the President. There are also people who prefer to remain undecided. Political leaders know when they’re off track because their offices get flooded with calls. When a chief executive begins his term of office with an approval rating in the low forties, he needs to get his finger back on the pulse of this country.
That’s what he does if he wants to be reelected.
The President needs real facts in order to make real decisions. But this isn’t just us; this is for any government. When the term “intelligence” is bantered about, it doesn’t mean that the President did well on his SATs. It means that his agencies that act as his eyes and ears are doing their jobs and informing him on what’s going on.
The POTUS has access to one of the best intelligence networks on earth. The CIA, the FBI, and the NSA are all answerable to the President. It is that information, combined with analysis, and staff advice that helps him make informed and wise decisions used to navigate this country to greatness.
Should the President voluntarily decide not to listen to his intelligence briefings (preferably daily) or not to understand what logistical problems might arise, there could be chaos. A good leader should be brought up to speed on all issues and have a subject matter expert to explain things. When he doesn’t, bad things happen – like 9-11… like the Iraq War… like nuclear proliferation.
Presidents don’t ignore intelligence briefings because they feel they’re “smart guys”.
How Good Were They? (Best to Worst)
TOP TEN PRESIDENTS
BOTTOM TEN PRESIDENTS
Rutherford B. Hayes
Franklin D. Roosevelt
George W. Bush
Harry S. Truman
John F. Kennedy
Warren G. Harding
William Henry Harrison
Dwight D. Eisenhower
I’m not going to lie to you. I can’t stand Donald Trump. He is the only chief executive that has made George W. Bush look good. However, for the purposes of fairness, I thought it might be a good idea to explain what the basic expectations are for doing the most important job in the world.
To summarize: What do we expect from our President.
- Emotional Stability
Now, I realize some things can be grouped with others, but I think you see what I mean. While a good leader may or may not be strong in every one of these qualities, the President needs to be perceived as that.
A good leader knows how to motivate people and gets them to do their best work consistently. A good leader shows the people who work for him how to walk the walk and to talk the talk. He has a mission. He needs his people to be on the same page.
He is honest with his people and honest in his dealings. While I can say there are some things relegated to bluffs and good tactics, overall, he should have good ethical judgement.
A good leader knows when to listen to his experts. He picks the right people for the right jobs. Those people are his extensions to run the things he doesn’t have the bandwidth to handle.
Then there are his soft skills. He needs to be emotionally stable. He does not have the luxury of being impulsive or speaking his mind all the time. He doesn’t have our luxury of being emotionally unstable. While there are some in this country who claim it is the mark of a “straight shooter”, in more practical circles, it shows more a great amount of immaturity.
We don’t need a child holding a gun.
A good leader is dedicated to his job. He is the job. It is a juggling act. He is the man who has to keep all the plates spinning on the poles. He is the guy who needs to have the ten thousand foot view. He needs to know who to delegate authority to and know, in the end, he is responsible for those people.
The buck stops with him.
I could probably list about a hundred things Donald Trump has done to show he is not competent enough to run this country. That he has ethical conflicts from his business interest to his attempts at manipulating Nordstrom’s management decisions for his daughter. There are provable falsehoods he’s fed the public in regards to not only crime rates, but the amount of people who attended his inauguration.
His emotional instability is measured with each angry petulant tweet. There is no need for his opponents to spin facts when Trump himself shows his true face to the world every day.
Our President must be who we are as a nation.
Great Britain got it right when they kept Queen Elizabeth as their figurehead. She is Britain. She is the one who represents everything Britain is. Prime ministers come and go, but she remains constant portrait of dignity until her death.
America does not have a king. That’s a good thing. We don’t want someone to arbitrarily remove our rights and privileges nonchalantly and without consideration. Executive orders are not to be taken lightly. Congress makes the laws. The Judiciary interprets the laws. The President enforces the laws.
That’s the way it works.
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Christopher Peruzzi