As I watched President Donald Trump depart the White House for the last time, I felt an unexpected sadness. The television commentator described Trump as a “pariah,” a failed and delusional President. That he may be, but the sight of Trump striving to salvage his dignity, pretending to be unaffected by his defeat, stirred a great sense of loss and wastefulness. The Trump administration greatly diminished our nation; what on earth was it all for? While the Trump administration often highlighted the worst of America, there are positive lessons to be learned.
If nothing else, Donald Trump’s presidency was definitely a thorough lesson in civics. If you were paying attention during the last four years, you probably know more now about the inner workings of government and can now identify far more of the players than you ever did before. If you’re prone to introspection, the Trump administration may have prompted a thorough examination of the nature of truth. (If, for example, a man truly believes his own self aggrandizing delusions and presents his truth to the public, explaining the disparity between his truth and reality as “alternative facts”, do those “facts” constitute a sort of truth?) Donald Trump uncovered America’s dormant bigotry and revealed those of us who willfully overlook questionable behavior and morals in order to fulfill personal economic or sociological agendas. Donald Trump inadvertently showed us who we really are and what is paramount in our lives. That was a painful, eye-opening experience for me, but I move forward now grateful for it. I know myself better than I did before. I know what truly matters to me.
Donald Trump taught me the true nature of my faith, a lesson for which I am truly thankful. I’ve never equated faith with religion, nor believed the church structure is necessary to nurture or express one’s faith, but I never acknowledged how very much my faith is my personal compass in life until a darker path emerged from within the White House. I have learned what is good and what is not. I have learned the importance of justice. I have learned every vote counts, and it truly matters who sits behind the Resolute Desk. I have learned education, knowledge, experience, decorum, and empathy are fundamental elements in the successful workings of our government.
Perhaps Donald Trump’s greatest achievement is, ironically, the resurgence of American patriotism. I never realized how much I took this country for granted, whether due to white privilege, sheer selfishness, or ignorant apathy, until our country was compromised. Shame on me, shame on all of us, for not truly appreciating democracy and this great nation until faced with the possibility of losing it. A national identity is a greater part of who we are than we knew, and that realization is because of Donald J. Trump. Our 45th president is now history, but in order to glean any positive meaning at all from Donald Trump’s time in the White House, we must thoughtfully reflect upon all that transpired. As we do so, thanks to Donald J. Trump, one thing will be clear: America has a soul, and we must guard that soul as fervently as we guard our own.