Failure of Leadership
Updated: Jun 2
When Donald Trump was elected president, the country nervously waited to see what would happen when there was a real crisis.
Now we have our answer.
As fires lit up the sky around the White House and the nation burned Sunday night, he turned off the lights, figuratively and literally.
For 3½ years, the administration endured plenty of crises, but they were all of Trump’s own doing and were mostly the kind of political tit-for-tat that doesn’t affect most people. Now, there have been back-to-back historical events, which both scream out for a leader to guide us through the turmoil.
We have Trump.
First, when a virus threatened the nation, he failed to take it seriously until being woken up by an Imperial College report that indicated up to 2.2 million people could die in the United States if he continued to do nothing. Then, after the economy collapsed, he started urging everyone out of their homes, the virus be damned, to restore it.
Now, people are out of their homes, but not in the way Trump envisioned. A second national crisis has emerged before the first even ended. The outrageous murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, and the inexplicable four days it took to charge the officer, has led to a nation in chaos, as a diverse group of protesters have taken to the streets to demonstrate state-sponsored police brutality from coast-to-coast and at many points in between.
Trump’s response Sunday wasn’t to address the nation. It wasn’t to provide a calming influence. It wasn’t to announce reforming militarized police departments that were in the process of taking aim and firing projectiles at citizens and journalists in the streets of one major U.S. city after another.
Trump’s response Sunday was first to tweet to his 80.9 million followers, in all caps, “LAW & ORDER.” He followed that up an hour later with, “FAKE NEWS,” as if somehow there were millions of crisis actors tearing the nation down in city after city. If Trump really wanted to see what was happening, all he actually had to do was look out his window.
With the lights out figuratively, the White House then did something unfathomable. It actually turned out the lights.
James Buchanan is frequently viewed by historians as being the least effective president in U.S. history, because he did nothing as the country spiraled toward Civil War. Legend has it that the Roman Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned for six days and seven nights during the first century.
But Trump is worse that both of them combined.
He doesn’t do nothing, like Buchanan. He actively incites people and makes the situation worse. And he isn’t fiddling, like Nero, as this nation burns. He simply shuts off the lights. It is the clearest indication yet of what many of us have known for quite some time.