If I had to imagine how a day in the life of Donald Trump begins, I’d guess that it starts with a thorough investigation of social media followed by an uncontrollable burst of word vomit. Whether in response to Oscar-winning actresses or Civil-Rights-championing representatives, Trump seems unable to let any criticism of his regime or character slide. Political convictions aside, I can’t help but be deeply troubled by our president’s need to respond to every criticism or joke that comes his way. After all, shouldn’t he be running a country?
So it’s time to trade my Cornell ski cap for a politician’s hat. This one goes out to Donald, as well as Sean Spicer and every other major leader suffering from a fragile ego. If you are in the spotlight, you’re bound to be subject to criticism–whether it comes in the form of a Melissa McCarthy SNL skit or a scathing Golden Globes acceptance speech. That criticism may or may not be deserved, but it’s something that comes with the territory of occupying a position in the public sphere. Barack Obama was criticized for months simply because he wore “mom jeans.” And that was the least of it.
We all know that criticism only becomes a problem when we let it; the adage of “sticks and stones” has been indoctrinated into us all since preschool. Yet for some reason, Trump remains hell bent on addressing every somewhat negative comment pointed his way with an even more desperate rebuttal. At the Military Ball, thousands of Americans cringed as Trump thanked the troops for being kinder to him than the media, who had apparently been “too tough” on him. In these unyielding attacks against journalism and the media, Trump’s responses also appear to belittle free speech. Perhaps he’s forgotten John Adams’s failed attempts to stifle the critical press in 1800.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned this past election season, we live in a deeply bipartisan country–that means that someone is bound to be unhappy, no matter who is in power. Trump’s refusal to accept that should be a warning sign to everyone, regardless of political affiliation, that our President’s ego will take precedence not only over what he does, but his ability to do what is right. After a particularly divisive election season, Trump should be championing unity, and embracing both his devotees and his critics as constituents of the same nation. Whether he likes it or not, he has been elected to lead a country in which freedom of speech remains a foundational tenet. If he wishes to remain in our nation’s highest office, President Trump needs to develop a thicker skin, or else he’ll be forced to hang up his trademark red baseball cap and return to the reality TV stage.
P.S. President Trump, if you’re reading this article right now, I’d be happy to speak with you about it. I just think you’d be missing my point.