Donald Trump’s administration has shown that sometimes, failures in politics occur not only by the voting down of policies or the dismissal of politicians, but also by the character of the people and events involved in those politics – and how the people respond (or don’t) to certain situations. The past week’s news has underlined this point, as many Republican lawmakers demonstrate their continued support of Donald Trump and his actions – by doing nothing.
On January 11, while singling out Haiti, as well as El Salvador and countries in Africa, Trump reportedly said, “Why are we having all of these people from s***hole countries come here?” He went on to say, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out” (presumably meaning “take them off the list of countries with temporary protected status”).
People in the U.S. and around the world are offended by Trump’s comments, and have found them to be blatantly and painfully racist. Nevertheless, Donald Trump has not apologized for the remarks. He denied making them at first, and later said, in effect, that his “tough language” was what was needed. He went on to blame, in part, Democrats’ response to the remarks for holding up progress on immigration reform. When a president’s offensive words are turned around so that those who were offended, rather than the offender, become the problem, that is a leadership failure.
If this were the first time Donald Trump had made disparaging remarks about a country or group of people, he might have cleared the air by acknowledging that he’d made a mistake, and apologizing. Instead, Trump has admitted no wrongdoing. When a President (or any politician) refuses to take responsibility for his or her own actions and words, that is a leadership failure.
Though a few Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, and Lindsey Graham have publicly decried what Trump said, other key Republicans such as Mitch McConnell have remained silent. When it’s more important to “save your seat than to save your soul” (as was suggested by David Gergen, former Presidential Adviser), that is a political failure.
The news is full of video clips of Trump making slurs over the years, similar to those he made last week. The news and social media outlets are also full of commentary about whether what Trump said was, indeed, a slur, whether people should be offended, and what Trump really meant. It’s a failure when it becomes more important to debate whether something said was racist or offensive, rather than striving to move ahead and apologize to those who were offended. It’s a failure when the debate becomes over what exact word was used, and ignores the sentiment behind the words.
Regarding the past week’s comments, as well as his similar remarks in the past, Trump has stated repeatedly that he’s not a racist. It’s a leadership failure when a president spends more time and fervor verbally denying that he is a racist than he does actually taking action to demonstrate that he’s not.
Many continue to defend and even praise Donald Trump for “speaking his mind,” no matter what we discover is in his mind. His supporters make excuses for his words, assign alternate meanings to them, and belittle those who find them troubling. When supporters and politicians show an inability or refusal to acknowledge a problem with any of Donald Trump’s words or actions – especially his most recent ones – this is perhaps the greatest failure.
Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘s***hole’ Comments, ‘Fire and Fury’ Fallout | PBS News Hour [2018-01-12]
Tucker: Trump Forced Conversation Leaders Want to Avoid | Fox News [2018-01-13]
Below is a clip of global responses to Trump’s comments. NOTE: The following clip contains the frequent use of vulgarity.
‘We’re Not S**holes. We’re People’: Global Responses to Trump’s Remarks | Washington Post [2018-01-12]