As a result of the 2016 presidential election the voters (with the help of the electoral system) hired Donald Trump to be president of the United States. In elections the voters act as a kind of hiring committee. Those voters were hiring a leader and administrator, to direct the work of over two million people all across the country. The president is also responsible for the largest military establishment in the world. If voters thought they were hitting back at the hateful Hillary, if they thought they were striking a blow against abortion, if they were getting back at the hated liberals, they missed the real purpose for the election.

Now, in the October of his third year in office, Donald Trump seems to be in terrible trouble. He is going to be impeached. He probably will not be impeached successfully (he will be protected by the Republican Senate). But, the impeachment struggle will be his entire focus until it is resolved. There will be little time left to get anything else done.

Donald Trump openly admitted that he had tried to urge the new president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who sat on the board of a chemical company in Ukraine. He personally ordered nearly four hundred million dollars worth of aid that the Ukrainians desperately needed for their struggle with the Russians to be held up pending that investigation. Trump then compounded his problems by publicly urging the Chinese to investigate the Bidens too.

Now, he is also going to be dogged by his foolish personal decision to sign off on a brutal Turkish attack against our allies the Kurds in northeast Syria. Thousands may die horrible deaths because Donald Trump, on his own, and against the advice of virtually everybody, let Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan talk him into forcing our troops there to stand aside and to allow the attack.

That decision is politically harmful to Trump because it has bitterly antagonized the evangelical Christian community by turning on our allies the Kurds. The evangelicals have staunchly supported Donald Trump because they want to believe that he is somehow King Cyrus reborn (King Cyrus who protected Jews more than 2500 years ago in what is now Iraq has given evangelicals a much needed rationale for supporting the irreligious Trump).

Finally, just when things seemingly could get no worse, some of Donald Trump’s business and tax records are finally being made public. For those who desire to embarrass the president, those records are making fruitful reading. There will be more to come. Ronald Reagan, at one of the parties celebrating the end of his second term, projected a slide of him and his wife looking over the edge of the White House roof. His comment was that, “We were waiting to see where the next book would come from”. Donald Trump has the same problem in spades. The profitable business of organizing leaks into books has become a major industry. The volume of White House leaks from the chaotic Trump administration would make the Titanic look waterproof.

A reasonable question for the many supporters of Donald Trump: Is this cascade of criticism really fair? And in a way, it certainly is not. Donald Trump has been widely assumed to have a narcissistic character disorder. Psychologists and psychiatrists have found their concerns taken less seriously than they would like because Donald Trump has been understandably less than eager to be really evaluated. Still it does seem clear that the president is not “normal”. His grandiosity, his inability to stop lying, his seeming lack of any real attention span, his inability to speak in coherent sentences, all point to real underlying problems. Problems that his abundant energy fails to overcome.

Despite the wishful thinking of many of his supporters, Donald Trump has not been a successful president. It seems to have been predictable that he would not be. Being a really successful president requires abilities and a level of experience that few acquire. Donald Trump with his utter narcissistic concentration on himself and his hurts could never really have acquired the skills and information that he needed.

Despite all the warning signs, the bankruptcies, the divorces, the endless affairs, the people who went to those rallies wanted to believe he would win, improve employment, and punish the objects of their anger. More traditional Republicans voted for him and hoped for the best. They were perhaps, at worst, guilty of excess party loyalty.

But, should we really blame Trump? Donald Trump had to know when he ran that he was not really prepared to be president. He ran anyway. When he stood on that vast inaugural platform, except for some young people in the bands, everyone on that platform knew more about the government than he did. Narcissists have a compulsion to win. Winning seems to help fill an internal vacuum. Note that even though he often appears to be miserable and obviously does not enjoy the actual work of being president, Donald Trump is desperate to win again. To blame the utterly unprepared and ill-equipped Trump from trying gain personal glory by winning is perhaps to blame him for an obsession he cannot control.

In democracies the people are not always right. They can make mistakes. Donald Trump was a mistake, but it is probably better to understand than to blame him, and to vow that we will work toward not making that kind of mistake again. The voters may be more careful about hiring future presidents. The people do learn!

H.J. Rishel


Retired political science professor of 40+ years. Educated at Olivet, UofM, MSU, Northwestern, & Harvard. Hoping to make politics a fun & exciting topic for all