Criticizing your predecessor: Insecurity or stating facts?
It is fairly common for a child, a teenager and even a young adult to criticize a friend, a sibling or someone else with whom one feels a sense of competitiveness.
However, as one gets older and matures, the hope is that he or she will come to understand that in most cases criticizing another person in an effort to make oneself feel superior is a clear sign of both immaturity and insecurity.
As a young man coming into a new position of leadership I found myself following a man who had been in the position for more than 30 years. It wasn't that he was a bad person, however, once he was off the scene he continued to communicate with those he had led.
Whether by phone, a monthly newsletter or inviting folks to come for overnight visits at his new residence several miles away, he couldn't let go. It put me in a difficult position as I was working to establish myself as the new leader.
There were times when I had the strongest desire to openly criticize him for his unwillingness to let go. Yet, on second thought I realized doing that would only make me appear insecure and small.
Unless I am missing something, the four U.S. presidents who have preceded the present incumbent — George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, though representing opposing political parties and often differing on perspective and policy, have been respectful of their predecessors acknowledging the job is difficult and the decisions made were, at the time, thought to be in the best interest of the country.
Yet the present incumbent, Donald Trump, appears to be willing to openly criticize and even demean his predecessor, at one point questioning where Obama was born and attempting to overturn his signature achievement, The Affordable Care Act, even though it is highly popular. In addition, at every opportunity he demeans the two new congresswomen who are Muslim.
Though I am aware that our president remains popular with his base, his openly putting down of predecessors and attaching demeaning names to potential political rivals can only lessen the respect our trusted allies have for our leader and our country. As a country we have become more and more isolated.
Why has our president chosen to follow the path he has? Is it a calculated strategy to fire up his base and once again prevail in the Electoral College? Or, is he so insecure that the only way he can feel strong and confident is to "put others down"?
Maybe a bit of both. Nonetheless, it is scary, and the man has so fanned the flames of discord that it has both emboldened others to resort to violence and, in some ways, caused our country's leaders to become immobilized.
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