Donald J. Trump has been the president of the United States for only 14 days. So why is my head hurting?
The transition was a mental political roller coaster, with daily insulting tweets and comments by the president-elect, attacks on the media, continued barbs directed at Hillary Clinton and questions about the desire of former President Barack Obama to ensure a smooth transition between administrations, just to name a few.
On Inauguration Day, I experienced a range of emotions: pride to witness the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, as well as reflections on the accomplishments, despite unprecedented Republican opposition, of former President Obama. Then, there was “Is Trump actually about to become president or is this just a bad dream? Dear Jesus, let it be a nightmare and please wake me up. Now’s fine.”
It was not a dream. And today I am still left with a pained sense of loss, grief and despair, not only as a lifelong Democrat, but also for the country. Each morning, I’m almost afraid to read or listen to the news, for fear of inching closer to a possible ulcer.
I have never felt this way before. I voted for Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan in 1980. In 1984, I voted for Walter Mondale over President Reagan. I voted for Michael Dukakis over George H. W. Bush in 1988. And for Al Gore over George W. Bush in 2000.
In each of these instances, the Republican nominee won the White House. Indeed in 1984, President Reagan defeated Vice President Mondale in one of greatest landslides in American history, winning 48 of 50 states. So I know what it’s like to be on the losing end of a presidential election.
Nonetheless Mr. Reagan, in addition to Presidents Bush 41 and 43 were my presidents, despite not getting my votes. Similarly, Mr. Trump is my president. And yes, I want him to succeed, unlike many Republicans who did not want Mr. Obama to be a successful president. However, I still doubt whether President Trump has the right temperament for the office.
Here’s what I do not want my president, regardless of party affiliation, to be:
• Unprepared — No more extemporaneous political remarks at the CIA in front of the Memorial Wall or in a White House East Room press conference with a foreign Head of State;
• Immature — Kindly cease attacking Hillary Clinton. Look around you. She lost, you won;
• Mean-spirited — No more making fun of anyone disabled. And would an apology to the reporter you mocked, albeit late, make you less of a man?
• Childish — No one but you cares that more people witnessed President Obama’s inauguration on the Mall in 2009 and 2013. Those elections were historic — the first African-American president;
• Un-Christian — Prioritizing Christian refugees over Muslims for entry into this country is wrong. Have American Christians not committed domestic terror in this country? Dylann Roof immediately comes to mind. Or do you believe that Muslims are the only terrorists in the world?
• Unpatriotic — As president, you should want as many Americans as possible to vote in future elections and not be a part of any efforts to suppress the voting rights of minorities. That, sir, is not making America “great again.” Rather, such actions for many, including my 80-year-old mother, bring back memories of the days of Jim Crow.
During the campaign, President Trump threatened to demand an investigation into voter fraud if Hillary won. But investigating voter fraud — which has independently, consistently and objectively been proven a nonissue — when you’ve won? Now that is rare and historic.
Let’s assume the president is correct and that between 3-5 million people voted illegally in November. He is automatically assuming that all of those votes went to Hillary. Therein lies the explanation for why he lost the popular vote. Can I, by that same warped “logic,” also assume that all of those votes went to the president? If so, couldn’t that very well delegitimize his win?
This distraction is a veiled attempt to delegitimize the minority vote moving forward and justify the continued weakening of existing voting statutes. And how ironic it is that one who won the Oval Office in large part by attempting to delegitimize the first African-American President, would be so sensitive to the appearance of such characterizations of his own Presidency?
So Mr. President, no more campaigning. You won. Congratulations. Now please get off Twitter, act like an adult and begin governing for all of the American people.
Austin R. Cooper Jr. is president for Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.