Do I want President Trump, “the pilot,” to fail?
I’ve seen this meme floating around cyberspace and while I think I understand the sentiment behind it, I completely disagree with it. What troubles me about this notion is that it seems to suggest that we are all passive passengers on this plane, that the plane won’t crash if we all act nice and support the pilot, and that actively resisting the pilot’s agenda will contribute to the demise of us all.
To provide greater context for this issue, let’s back up to 2008-2009 and the election of President Obama. While this is an oversimplification, I observed at least three groups (who were not necessarily mutually exclusive) quite distressed by his election: (1) stanch Republicans who disagreed with the Democratic approach to government, (2) conservative Christians who were concerned about his stands on key social/moral issues, and (3) racists who focused on the half-Black identity of Barack Obama. Did some of these folks want Pilot Obama to fail? I am confident they did. Would this meme have applied then, possibly.
However, getting back to 2017, I would argue there are critical differences between these two pilots, such that this meme is patently false for Pilot Trump. Let’s review some of them:
- While both were novice pilots, Pilot Obama was level-headed, cerebral to the point of being perceived as dispassionate at times, and measured. Pilot Trump is brash, thin-skinned, and seemingly undisciplined.
- Pilot Obama's flight crew had their mishaps, but is the picture of stability compared to what’s happened in a few short weeks with Pilot Trump’s flight crew.
- There was never the threat of flying too close to hostile airspace when Pilot Obama was at the helm. The jury is still out on whether or not Pilot Trump will take our plane into Russian airspace.
- At this point it’s not at all clear how Pilot Trump will work with the air traffic controllers and with other planes sharing international airspace. Pilot Obama was generally a cooperative pilot.
- Pilot Obama appeared to be malleable and yielded, when appropriate, to the counsel of his co-pilots and flight staff. With few exceptions, it is yet unclear who can manage and shape the behavior, when necessary, of Pilot Trump.
- I believe few people during the past eight years felt that Pilot Obama would readily provoke other pilots into hostile interactions and the onset of war. That prospect seems all too likely given the behavior of Pilot Trump and some members of his flight crew.
- Pilot Obama appeared to be focused on his vision for running the country, and it did not involve Obama, Inc. Given the vast intermingling of family and Pilot Trump’s extensive business empire, it very much feels like flying this plane is simply another financial enrichment opportunity for Pilot Trump.
I want to be clear that this essay is not about the failings of President Trump vs. the virtues of President Obama. President Obama’s legacy is certainly a mixed bag. I also want to be clear that I am not a Democrat (nor a Republican for that matter) and I did not vote for President Obama in 2012. However, whatever concerns people had about him 8 years ago, I think only a minority of the country wanted him to outright fail. I don’t think we can say the same for President Trump.
I believe people are resisting his agenda because they are afraid he will crash the plane, or at the very least change the nature of being a passenger on that plane in ways that violate the core values of what it means to be an American. It’s clear that some passengers are unwanted on Pilot Trump’s plane, and it’s not just the criminals or terrorists. It’s also apparent that President Trump and members of his staff have a specific vision for this country and dissent or opposition to that vision is not welcome nor tolerated.
Passengers on the plane are also troubled by things like alternative facts. It’s like looking out the window and seeing a clear sky, while being told over the plane’s speaker that it’s stormy and raining.
Finally, it can be challenging to separate the man from the position. Many respect the office of the POTUS, but cannot respect the current occupant of that office. Furthermore, given the way that critics or those with a different view are attacked by the pilot, it’s understandable that some want this pilot to fail.
So now let us return to the meme and the key question. Do I want this pilot to be successful, or to fail? I don’t know yet. I have great respect for the office, but none for the man. I want our country to thrive, but not any any cost. I’m one man with little influence or voice. There’s obviously not much I can do to impact the trajectory of this plane.
However, I am committed to not being a passive sheep and victim on this plane. In situations when the best course of action appears to be supporting this pilot, I will. But, when it’s clear that resistance is warranted, I will unite with others and resist. Drawing upon a phrase from Star Trek, I refuse to believe the warning from the Borg that “resistance is futile.”