New York Times Opt-Ed Sends Trump On Witch-hunt: Right Wing “Status Quo” Is Not The Alternative to Change
President Donald Trump has reacted to the decision of the New York Times to publish a critical anonymous opinion piece written by someone from within his Administration as expected. He is furious. He wants the name and resignation of the person who wrote it. Not only that, he wants whoever is responsible in jail for treason. While his top lieutenants frantically work to soothe the President’s anger, and escape raged-fueled accusations, Trump has taken the highly unusual step of calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a criminal investigation into what is simply a matter of public dissent from within his Administration. Those who refuse to comply with his orders are sure to face threats of termination and legal action. Trump will stop at nothing to root out the employee who dared betray and humiliate him. After spending nearly two years categorizing the Russian election hacking investigation as a witch-hunt in an attempt to defect accusations, President Trump is now on a witch-hunt of his own.
On the one hand, most people can sympathize with the President’s anger over the anonymous nature of the letter. Someone within the Trump Administration has penned a letter that essentially frames the President as both unfit for duty and morally bankrupt. The letter further frames the author as a member of a Right-wing “resistance” attempting to preserve the “steady state.” Naturally, Trump feels betrayed, because the author is supposed to be committed to the change his leadership promised to give the American People. Trump is angry, because he views this critic as nothing more than a saboteur. In all fairness, those officials who accepted their positions within the Trump Administration had done so under the pretext of carrying out Donald Trump’s campaign platform. Those who could not do so should have honestly and openly told the President where they could not or would not meet his expectation. Instead of clandestinely instituting a far-Right political agenda, they needed to register their dissent when they were hired by the President and when they found the President’s leadership going awry.
On the other hand, Donald Trump is not someone who accepts criticism or dissent easily. He certainly does not foster an environment where his subordinates can openly and honestly express their dissenting views and concerns. Instead, he reacts with outrage and abusive personal attacks before threatening to fire and sue those who do not yield to him. In short, he forces subordinates to choose between their jobs, as well as their dignity, and silence. Quite frankly, it is a terribly destructive shortcoming of the President and his leadership. Assuming the sincerity of the opt-ed’s author, whoever wrote the letter feels he, or she, needs to remain in his, or her, position for the good of the country. He, or she, also feels compelled to break the silence and offer the American People an honest assessment of the President’s shortcomings. This should be a watershed moment for Donald Trump. To be a boss or any other kind of leader, one must be willing to accept the reality that others are going to criticize, and even mock, you. It is far more productive to foster the kind of working relationships where people feel they can honestly offer criticism.
That said, the simple fact that the President feels compelled to launch a massive undertaking to root out a critic does more to hurt the President than the actual New York Times opt-ed. If Donald Trump would play it cool and brush off the criticism, he would find the opinion piece is thoroughly meaningless. At best, it has added a little more fuel to the fire between his critics and his supporters, but it will do nothing to change anyone’s opinion about him. Quite frankly, the letter sounds more like something out of am ill-written Cold War-era spy novel. Although the author may well be sincere, it is hard to take the document as a meaningful rebuke of the President. Aside from being anonymous and filled with talk of a “steady state” resistance, the letter contains nothing more than generalities. Considering the celebrity personalities of those the former reality TV star President has appointed, the opt-ed could easily be someone’s attempt to create the kind of drama and hype needed to win a multi-million dollar book deal.
If sincere, the New York Times opt-ed, at best, attempts to garner support for the Right-wing version of the “steady state.” It is a call to return to the sanity of the Right-wing “status qup,” i.e. political agenda, and an end to the chaos of an unstable political outsider. It is a rallying call to those who see the liberal Left as an even more radical alternative. Donald Trump, like Barack Obama, was elected, because people are tired of the status quo and the political agendas of both extremes. Some were unwilling to support a political insider, i.e. Hillary Clinton, and others were willing to support a candidate who going to shake things up. Trump’s approach to governance and change has alienated a lot of people. It has also proven to be very destabilizing. The political elites, who benefit from the status quo, are attempting to capitalize on the shortcomings of the Trump Administration in order to garner the support of the American People and ensure their survival. Donald Trump might not be the answer, but the American People still need and want significant change. Proper governance is always necessary, but the author of the New York Times opt-ed is wrong to divide the the status quo of the Left and the Right then push the far-Right Wing political agenda as the steady-state alternative to the Trump agenda.
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