In reflection: Every President deserves a chance

Stuart Lombard

Four years ago, the 2016 election was nearly over. It was a different time.
I was in Annapolis at the time studying at St John’s College. My friends and I gathered in the Conversation Room on election night. A projector had been brought in so that we could watch the results come in. The mood in the room was nervous, but I don’t think  anyone expected Trump to win Pennsylvania. It was early on Wednesday morning, and the race still had not been officially called, but we all knew it was over. When I awoke later in the morning, Trump had won.
The headline in the New York Times on Wednesday November 9th was ‘Trump Triumphs’. It was a grey day in Annapolis – fitting as the mood on campus was also grey and quiet. Many people did not go to class that day, which is very un-Johnnie-like behaviour.
I was disappointed. For all the craziness of the campaign and after what should have been career ending rhetoric, Donald Trump was now President-elect Trump. There was understandably a lot of ill feeling circulating. I was disappointed, but I recognised that he had won, that he would be sworn in on January 20th, 2017 and would sit in the same office that President Obama had sat in. He was not my pick, but he was President, and he deserved a chance.
I remember that there was a theory that Trump was putting on a show to get elected, and that he would turn back into a Democrat once he took office. Obviously, this was a farfetched theory, but it made some people feel a bit better. And maybe he would mellow out, become more like a proper politician and conduct his duties in a way that honours the office of the Presidency.
There were also many who said that Trump was ‘not my President’. I understood the sentiment, the anger, but I thought that we had to look to the future and hope for the best. Maybe he would not ban Muslims from entering the country, maybe he would not build a wall. He had promised a sweeping infrastructure plan, and that sounded like it would be a good thing. I thought that his plan could include investments in renewable energy. I knew that he liked shiny things, so I went to his website and submitted some advice for building big, glorious, shining wind farms and solar fields.
On inauguration day, I watched. I remember how brutal and divisive his speech was. And in the months to come, he proved my hopes to be in vain. He did pass travel bans, which were promptly blocked. He did give ICE nearly unlimited latitude and expanded the family separation policies, leaving children in unsanitary conditions. And he did try to build a wall, but we paid for it.
While he sunk to depths that I honestly did not think he would, I had still given him a chance. That is what every President deserves. If Joe Biden wins the election, I hope that the country will give him a chance to lead as well.