The typical young student today is either squarely in the pro-Trump camp or in the anti-Trump camp – usually the latter. It is not so shocking that students tend towards extremes. The main issue today is that adults also tend to have sharp differences on President Trump. Nobody seems to be saying neutral or partially positive and partially negative about the President. But in truth, that is the most reasonable angle to take – negative about his name-calling and dismissive behavior of any one that doesn’t fall in line with him, yet positive about many of his very effective policies.
There have been other Presidents who have been both negative on a personal level and positive on a policy level. For example, Bill Clinton is in no way a role model for many to emulate on a family level. His legacy will forever be tarnished by everything that relates to his personal life. On the other hand, there is much to learn about the way he led the Democratic party through a reasonable and measured direction over the 90’s. He knew when to lean towards the right after the Democrats lost control over Congress. He also knew how to sideline the more radical Democrats who worked hard to push the party to the fringe.
Similarly, Richard Nixon was a more upstanding citizen on a personal level. But, he struggled with what seemed like a neurosis concerning the Democratic opposition to his policies on Vietnam and other matters. He would go on to win the most lopsided victory over George McGovern. Yet, he was involved in using taxpayer money to break the law in order to spy on his opponents. He truly had nothing to fear. But he seemed to live in constant fear of losing power while at the pinnacle of his power.
Both Presidencies of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon will be remembered as successful on a policy level, but problematic on a personal level. This will probably be the case with Donald Trump too. Let’s hope we can return to a more nuanced understanding of the personalities that lead our country. A return to normalcy will do us all a lot of good.