You are who your record says you are
August 16, 2017
Posted in Politics
“You are who your record says you are,” is a famous quote from football coach Bill Parcells. It should be applied to all aspects of your life. This is not to say that people cannot change and they are bound by or should be judged by past behavior. It is to say that you should judge someone on their deeds not their words or what they want you to think about them. If you want to change your behavior from your past behavior then your current deeds will reflect that. We can apply it to relationships for example and it squares with Maya Angelou’s famous dictum “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Too often however the change, if there is one, is only temporary and one reverts back to one’s earlier behavior. Your current record will reflect that too. Parcells was talking of course about football, but the principal remains the same in other aspects of life too.
This brings us to Donald Trump. A 70 year old man who has a long track record and has shown us who he is on numerous occasions. During the campaign he promised to drain the swamp, provide a breath of fresh air instead of politics as usual, promised to be different from the others, said he would run the country like a business e.g. trim the dead weight. What did his record show? In a long business career he has been a shrewd operator who has parlayed other people’s money, backstabbing, ripping off the common man, skirting the law, and lying about who he is, into wealth and celebrity. He has demonstrated time and again that he truly believes the stereotypes of non-whites floating around in the minds of misguided and supremacist whites. He believes in police brutality, presumption of guilt, and violence to keep people “safe.” He wants to pay as little as possible to support this country and has resorted to legal, quasi-legal and questonable tactics to do so. His record shows he has demonstrated arrogance, infidelity, disrespect for women, narcissism, looking out for only himself, and demanding loyalty and deference from those around him. What in his record even suggested that he would look out for someone else, place the interests of the country before his own, or be an advocate for anyone other than himself? I can’t see anything. Yet millions accepted that he would and voted for him. Conservatives believed that he would enable them to advance the conservative agenda of smaller government. The evangelists argued that God was just using an admittedly flawed individual to do his work. There were actually some who believed that he would support the rights of LBGT people (e.g. Clay Aiken, Caitlin Jenner), non whites (Ben Carson, Kanye West) or other minorities for whom the Democrats had provided lip service but not enough change. Others argued that he would change once he got into office. Some wanted the exact Trump that they got and are pleased.
So what does his record in office show? With a hat tip to Jimmy Kimmel: He lies about the size of the crowd at his inauguration as well as many other things, he hires his daughter and son in law, he alienates his foreign allies by hanging up on the Australian prime minister and refusing to shake Angela Merkel’s hand, he refuses to release his tax returns even after the election, he demonstrates his ignorance by not knowing that Frederick Douglass is not alive, he issues a ban on Muslims that he claims is not a ban on Muslims, he compliments the president of the Philippines for murdering drug addicts, after criticizing Obama for playing golf he plays golf every weekend, he shares classified intelligence with the Russians, one of his midnight tweets contains a typo which the next day he claims was a secret message, he fires the director of the FBI who was at least partly responsible for getting him elected, he criticizes his attorney general for recusing himself form the Russian election interference investigation when it was the only honorable thing to do, he bans the transgender in the military without consulting with the military beforehand, he plays brinkmanship with North Korea, he removes Obama era checks on business instituted to protect our environment, consumers and lives, and he says there were nice people among the the white supremacists, anti Semites and fascist in Charlottesville. This is only part of his record as president, but what does it tell us?
On the left there is ample room for outrage but not surprise. To paraphrase another NFL coach, the late Dennis Green, “they are who we thought the were.” For his supporters it shows that he has not changed and is consistent with the man who we have seen for years. He has not supported LBGT rights, civil rights for non-whites, a conservative belief in smaller government, loyalty to country over self interest, advocacy to improve the lives of the people who elected him, a Christian doing God’s work, or a yardstick for competency in his subordinates other than blind loyalty to him. Trump has not changed; we can only hope that the perception of him by at least a few of his supporters has.