I said, quite farcically, long ago that Donald Trump would be our first Jewish President. Two-and-a-half years later, I have re-examined that prediction. Donald Trump, now the unforeseen President, is more definable in retrospect than when I wrote this during the period following his candidacy announcement in 2015.
Examine, if you will.
Our first Twitter President.
Or our first digital President?
The revolutionary dichotomy embodied by President Trump is perfectly summed up in his dueling Twitter accounts, laid side-by-side on TweetDeck. The “Real” Donald Trump represents our personal, private sphere. In eras past, this slice of our life was larger and consumed most of our existence. Little of our private existed beyond that public barrier. Technology has exponentially evolved and one of its many ramifications is the reduction, near annihilation, of this private sphere. Our world, in 2018, owes an increasingly shrinking homage to the private. Our existence is now steeped in the public scope. Our “Real” has become the “POTUS,” the personal, the unseen and private. Whereas “P” once stood for President, Trump is proving the transitional President, leading us into a realm where our highest elected official openly discloses his inner sanctum to the meddling and judgmental eyes of a lascivious public which is sated on gossipy dirt and conflict. “P” now stands for public.
President Trump is not our first Jewish President; he is our first Public President.
There has been a tendency on the part of many enemies, and supporters, to view Trump’s digital Presidency as unique and unprecedented.
The social dynamics of the Trump Presidency are hardly unique. The hammer of human nature which drives Trump’s leadership is the same which has driven great national leaders since man first saw the need to form hierarchical societies.
I even hedge a bit to call Trump’s Presidency unprecedented, for it really isn’t if studied from afar. President Trump’s Presidency is merely the next step in a long procession of technological evolution which bares our private sphere to increasing scrutiny. President Trump, our 45th President, is neither worse nor better, more misbehaved or more ludicrous, than any other President in the history of this country. He is a human man born of ego and pride, redolent of all the characteristic traits of a person who would seek such an office. Donald Trump, the figure, is not unique in this respect, but his Presidency is in that it represents the pinnacle, the transition, of our society from the private to the public. The inner sanctum, once guarded and cloistered and narrated in hindsight by insiders only, is now a real time stage witnessed and exploited by the public for its own agendas.
While many may define the Trump Presidency as the be-all and end-all to a comical and buffoonish sense of statesman quasi-dignity, we may fail to appreciate the broad historical context. President Trump is the first Public President. After he is gone and replaced by #46, the spectacle will not simply end. From this point, each successive President, enabled by, and competing with, newly revealing technologies, will be called upon to be “answerable” to the prying public eyes in measures never before witnessed. It could (probably won’t) be Twitter, or Instagram, or whatever new collective social devices are birthed in the coming decades, there will most certainly exist a vehicle by which Presidents will be called upon and expected to harness for the entitled curiosities of a public hungry for luridness and antagonism.
The spectacle that has become the Trump Presidency (through no fault of his own) has become tiresome and consuming. Our collective sanity is tenuous in the face of the constant barrage of hate and adoration evoked by this man. The other morning my SO and me were discussing Donald Trump and I told her that Presidential politics has become a war of personal dramatics. We are lulled in by interpersonal tension and ire, for elemental politics, with their mundane fixation on policy and procedures, can be horrifically boring. But the world of instant gratification though social media-ship provides a scintillating backdrop to which people relate. The Trump White House has morphed into a sparring ground of anonymously expressed hostilities. People love hostility when they are only witnesses. We can no longer pretend dry matters of government policy are important when such a personal level of collective animosity awaits behind every faceless keystroke.
Technology, while breeding openness and transparency, concomitantly breeds cynicism and habitual dreariness.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, the political climate in the post-Obama era promised excitement and revolution; now, I fear the exposure of our private digital lives and real-time expression, which even afflicts our Presidential figurehead, will lead to a hopeless path of repetition and banality, because ultimately we, as people, are little more than the sum of our innocuousness. There are times, increasingly as of recent, where I simply tire of the rapid-fire character assaults that shape today’s political dialogue. Perhaps at one time it was amusing and fresh and the groundbreaking hilarity of the moment promised emotional exhilaration, but a man can only take so much before he must hop to the next stone.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my “coverage” of today’s barbaric Trump climate fails to provide the catharsis that spawns new ideas.