I think it’s interesting that CNN is airing a documentary about the first modern outsider elected President before Trump, Jimmy Carter. When I think back about Carter’s years as President I think what happened is that he showed us reality that we did not like very much. It’s no wonder then that he lost to a professional actor and that in many ways we have been living in a delusion that has been amplified by Trump.
Why would the rock-and-roll set flock to a man who, as president, is remembered today as being a micro-managing, straight-arrow engineer who failed to inspire or understand leadership? The reason is that in his prime, Jimmy Carter was cool. He championed a kind of political populism that was extremely attractive to Americans disillusioned with Washington in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate. Sick and tired of elected officials who betrayed them, they found a refreshing change in Carter, a former peanut farmer who was seen as an anti-establishment outsider. As Bishop Michael Curry recalls in the documentary, “We were coming out of the Watergate era and looking …to be a country of integrity again.”
The problem with the quote above from Bishop Curry is that I am not sure the United States has ever been a “country of integrity.” I think some of the founders had this aspiration but failed to see the log in their eye of supremacy is the forms of slavery and colonialism.
To me the greatest irony of the Trump presidency has been that part of the campaign slogan, “Make America Great” is a good and right aspiration but demands a degree of introspection on what is greatness and who determines greatness.
P.S. I observe that it seems all one term presidents of my life time became one term because that were a mirror reflecting ourselves that we did not like very much. Our egos much prefer the myths of our false selves than the reality of our true selves.