Maintaining a spirit of objectivity in American politics

David Hormell

President Donald Trump is erratic and his behavior is unlike anything the country has witnessed in recent memory.

Consequently, the country doesn’t know how to manage its expectations amid these strange circumstances. The tragic result is an incremental inchworm descent towards no-expectation hell, enacted by the administration and its most ardent supporters.

Trump’s reactionary tendency to shoot from the hip or “tell it like it is” is oft-lauded as an American return to “toughness.” In traditional models of American masculinity, being self-assured and assertive may be considered “tough.” It’s a key component of his vengeful rhetoric and overall brash personality.

However, Trump making innuendo-laced jokes about the size of his manhood while threatening foreign powers with nuclear devastation isn’t tough—it’s reprehensible.

Trump may be too emotional for office.

His knack for spontaneity and his fractured attention span have led to an ever-changing goalpost of American expectations. It’s drastically changed how the country perceives the role of the president and muddled the moral demarcation between right and wrong.


Last month, I wrote a column on how Trump’s White House is inconsistent.

Another example of inconsistency reared its ugly head over the weekend. On April 13, the U.S. ordered a missile strike on Damascus, Syria. The following day in an oddly jovial tone, Trump tweeted, “A perfectly executed strike last night…Could not have had a better result. Mission accomplished!”

How the “mission” was accomplished is unclear. However, this past weekend illustrates Trump’s unsurprising belief in singular short-term action as an easy-fix solution to a complicated problem.

Trump’s excitement also stands in stark contrast to his stance on U.S. involvement in Syria in 2013. Criticizing former President Barack Obama, Trump tweeted, “we should stay the hell out of Syria” (June 13). Trump criticized Obama’s unilateral action and involvement in Syria 19 times.

How did we get here?

Last fall, Ryan Lizza noted this gradual descent in an article in “The New Yorker” titled “The GOP’s ‘Boil the Frog’ Strategy to Save Trump.” Lizza posits the revelation WikiLeaks worked in tandem with Russia to elevate Trump’s chances of election should shock and startle.

It doesn’t, partially due to the long and drawn-out nature of each respective scandal. The country has lost the ability to care.

Lizza concludes: “The scandal goes down a lot easier when the details are delivered in small bites.”


The moving goalpost has led to a defining shift in shared values.

The absurdity of the current political climate has prompted some folks to wear floppy nostalgia goggles and think of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan in rosy terms. It’s threatened the country’s spirit of objectivity and, consequently, caused us to engage in revisionist history.

Trump is a ridiculous caricature of a man, and his wild, off-the-wall antics are a positive proximity mine.

For example, Trump makes Pence look rational. Pence is capable of thinking in complete sentences.

Mike Pence supported gay conversion therapy. Last year, he cost taxpayers nearly a quarter of a million dollars as he traveled from consoling a broken community affected by the Las Vegas massacre to an Indianapolis Colts game and back again—just for the sake of cutesy political theater.

Value voters and fervent supporters of Trump have contributed to the shifting goal post.

Last year, “The Atlantic” reported that over half of Trump’s supporters were “value voters.” The article notes in 2011, 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants believed a political leader could be immoral in their private life and maintain their capacity for leadership. In 2016, that number swelled to 72 percent.

We need to demand more out of our leaders and avoid revising history. We mustn’t lose our spirit of objectivity, no matter how absurd the circumstance.