The office of the presidency is an evolving institution. So, concurrently, what it means to be a president is changing as well. We’ve seen through the passage of time how the proverbial list of presidential duties is revised. For example, the election process for Vice President shifted in 1800 from whoever came second place in the presidential election to a vote on a separate ballot together.
What has not changed, up until recently, is the dignity and respect by which the President of the United States should conduct himself, and the word presidential has denotatively come to mean exactly that: dignified and respectful . However, in our always-changing world in which proclamations on paper have become digitized and reduced to the form of 280 characters, we also change how we perceive the man or woman in the Oval Office.
Our president’s affinity for social media, primarily Twitter, is not what bothers me most. I’ve become desensitized to his crass and erratic Twitter vernacular. It’s what he chooses to say, that I find most concerning. In the middle of eight breaking sexual misconduct allegations implicating the former Democratic Senator of Minnesota Al Franken, President Trump expressed vehement indignation. Referencing released photos of Franken touching women inappropriately, President Trump commented on Twitter, “The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words.”
Meanwhile, nine women came forward accusing Republican Roy Moore, who was campaigning in the Alabama Senatorial race, of “inappropriate sexual or social conduct.” Three of the women alleged that Moore sexually assaulted them. One accuser claimed an incident occurred when she was 14 and he was 32. But President Trump remained deafeningly silent. It’s this selective outrage that irks me.
It’s his unsettling refusal to tweet condolences to victims of color at the hands of a white mass shooter and his aversion to praising the heroes of color who stop those shooters. When James Shaw Jr., and unarmed black man and American hero, tackled and disarmed a white shooter who killed four people and injured four others outside a Tennessee Waffle house, President Trump was essentially silent.
From the stance of a politician, it’s understandable why, He is afraid of alienating his base. He’s afraid to disavow the despicable actions of a member of his party. But coming from a man who claimed in a January 2016 campaign rally that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and he “wouldn’t lose voters,” it seems scandalous not to put principles over politics at lease in those moments after atrocities or in response to heroism. At the least.
Daniel Kim, Grade 11
Oakwood High School