After the 9/11 tragedy, in the United States, anywhere you went, people were kind and lovely. It lasted a long while before things went back to the pushy and not particularly nice ways.
Now, people are exhibiting their pre-9/11 behavior, being argumentative and unkind to each other. This is even happening in places where there are shared values and concerns. It is as if we are all fighting for the same scraps of food and sustenance. Why?
My view is that we have a president who is setting a tone that doesn’t help us interact and get along with each other.
We can disagree about some of what the president believes and wants to accomplish. I certainly did not agree with agendas and goals of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, but there was never a meanness that prevailed in the U.S. under either of them. Now there is, and we can look at some of the President Trump’s tweets and actions to get some insight as to what might be going on in our country.
A president is a leader, and a leader sets the tone. The tone, due to some Trump’s actions and social media habits, has contributed to how we act toward each other.
President Trump had a news conference recently, and he called on CNN, which he addressed as “fake news.” Calling someone names is something that we expect a schoolyard bully to do, but not the president of the United States.
His tweets have also reflected his viewpoints and tone. Here is the tweet about CNN and fake news: “So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!”
In June, he said: “The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.”
Trump has not limited his tweets to commenting on “fake news.” Although those tweets were poorly constructed, they did not go after particular people. However, again in June, President Trump went after specific people in two tweets:
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came …” followed up by “… to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
Sen. Lindsey Graham then tweeted, “Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.”
What Sen. Graham did not say is that President’s Trump’s tweets – coming from the leader of this country – are setting a tone that causes every-day interactions between people to get nasty.
This week, he went after another Republican, breaking the rule set by former President Ronald Reagan, what was called the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any other Republican.”
This tweet was related to the rally that President Trump held in Phoenix: “Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!”
It was not just that Trump wanted to challenge a person in his own elected party; it is that he tweeted his feelings for the world and especially for voters to see.
Trump’s actions, and not just his tweets, are also setting the tone – including his actions in pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The Washington Examiner – not exactly a liberal press outlet – said the “law and order” promises of candidate Trump were overturned by his pardoning of Sheriff Arpaio.
“Arpaio’s defiance of a judge’s order to stop detaining people simply based on the suspicion that they were illegal immigrants was worthy of punishment. His career as a veteran and a long-time public servant does not change that. As sheriff, Arpaio’s office would routinely detain Latinos solely on the suspicion they had broken immigration law, without any evidence whatsoever that a crime had been committed. It was government overreach that was backed up by Arpaio’s authority, all while it was supposed to be Arpaio’s job to protect the people of Maricopa County from injustice.”
The tweets and this week’s pardon contribute to the mean streak we’re seeing in the American public. We need to begin to be considerate of each other again.
Even though President Trump’s speeches have taken a more conciliatory tone recently, the meanness and negative shout-outs to people have got to stop. It sets a tone, and it’s not a good one.
Media wishing to interview Ellen Ratner, please contact [email protected].