Randi Kreiss

It used to be political, but now it’s personal


So personal. As I realized last week, every single thing President Trump does or says diminishes something or someone I cherish. If this keeps up, he could really start to get on my nerves.

Once I got past the initial jolt of Trump’s election (like stepping on the third rail), I hoped for a moderating, pivoting, possibly centrist Trump. But, sadly and perhaps tragically, we got the upheaval he promised and more. It’s the only thing he hasn’t lied about.

When news emerged about the women he allegedly harassed, and we heard on tape the future president of the United States bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, of course it felt personal. I mean, who does that? He admitted reprehensible behavior and he still got elected. How do we explain this to our daughters and granddaughters, and what is the confusing message to the men in our lives?

When he appointed various know-nothings to key agencies and cabinet posts, when he selected unskilled, uneducated and inexperienced people and put them in leadership positions, those decisions disrespected the citizens of this country. It’s personal when the State Department can’t effectively represent our interests in the world. It’s personal when Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un feel emboldened by our leader’s incompetence. It will be very personal if missiles start heading our way because of miscommunication.

When the president opens new land to mining and logging and brags about trashing environmental rules and regulations, it’s personal. We grew up singing, “This land is your land, this land is my land.” We are the keepers of the earth, and only if we preserve it and grow its resources will it be there for our children.

Our president lives in a narcissistic bubble, and his immediate gratification is his only concern. He will let the rivers run with pollution and the seas dry up if that gives him traction with powerful industries.

When Trump’s sons posted photos of their hunting trophies, including the tails of dead elephants, it felt like sacrilege to me. When his daughter and son-in-law were insinuated into the West Wing, that felt insulting, too. An absurd construct: That the delicate business of international affairs, negotiation and brinkmanship could be carried out by untrained family members who still held ties to their personal businesses and who demonstrated little talent for their assignments. Does the reputation of this country truly mean so little to the president?

When he opened his heart and mind to what he saw as some “good” folks in the white nationalist movement, I thought of the Catholics and Jews and blacks and Hispanics who have suffered at the hands of such hate groups. The president’s nod to such divisive forces feels threatening to every citizen in a minority community.

When he lied every day in nearly every speech, I began to feel afraid. What if a national or international catastrophe hit us? How would I ever trust his advice? Who among us could follow him into war?

When he tried to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. by issuing travel restrictions, that felt personal, too. How does any non-Muslim American interact with Muslim friends and colleagues without a cringing sense of embarrassment?

When he abandoned the Dreamers, a particularly mean-spirited and cynical move, it hurt. Don’t we all know immigrants who have come to this country as children and made good, and now feel as American as any of us, because they are? Trump’s treatment of immigrants, the way he speaks about Latinos and Africans and Middle Easterners, stands in opposition to all the innate goodness and generosity of this nation.

When he trashes the Obamas at every opportunity with false accusations and outright lies, I feel resentment that a man who conducted himself with honor throughout his presidency would be called out by the new man in office.

And, no small thing, when Trump butchers the English language on a daily basis, the English teacher in me weeps. In some ways he is functionally illiterate.

When he doesn’t bother with security briefings or other routines that might help him function better in office, he reminds us what willful ignorance is and how woefully unprepared he is to lead us.

Many Americans have felt outraged and insulted by the president’s language and behavior and policy and staffing choices. We’ve felt slings and arrows coming our way, launched not by outrageous fortune, but by Trump.

The actual quotation, from “Hamlet,” reads: ‘Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/and by opposing, end them?”

We cannot and will not abide “arms,” but we can oppose. We can resist. And we will.

Copyright 2018 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.