Friday, December 02, 2016

Once Upon A Time There Was a President

      click photo to see original size

The slogan that quickly emerged for the anti-Trump demonstrations since the elections is a telling one: Not My President.  In some ways, it's useless to insist that in respect to the most meaningful forces and trends distorting political, economic and environmental situations around the world as well as within the US, who happens to be President is of lesser consequence.  The office is powerful, culturally influential but it is also archetypal.  We're always going to care who it is.

In grade school we learned (at least in my generation) that the new United States broke the tyranny of kings.  This leader of a nation and a society would be elected. By now, more of the people are enfranchised, and the presidency is the only office for which the entire nation votes.

So the President represents as well as leads us.  And we're affected in our sense of ourselves and our time by who holds the office.  This is despite the fact that for the majority of the years since 1960, the President has been somebody awful.  And that includes one who in my own modest way I worked to elect.

Who is "my" President?  My first was JFK.  My second and likely last President is Barack Obama.  The contrast between him and nearly every aspect of his presidency on every level, and his successor are so nearly opposite that no ordinary explanations can account for it.  Sure, there are political explanations and the election itself is a matter of numbers, not even the majority will.  But you can't get past the fact that, regardless of their tragically mis-perceived self interest (unless they were billionaires, and even then...) a lot of people voted to destroy the country and the future for everybody.  That kind of tears it for me.

 Yet none of that in the end matters, at least to me.  Only the fact of who is going to demean and diminish the office and all its archetypal ramifications...and of course what his administration will do.

So I mourn the presidency as I honor the current President for the last times.  Maybe some will stumble on these posts in the future, and get a visual idea of what the presidency could be, because that's, once upon a time, the way it was.

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