A year ago today, Americans were waking up to election results entirely unlike the ones they expected. Hillary Clinton had lost, and Donald Trump had won. The American people would have to wait a little longer to see their first female president than they thought they would.
A year ago today, The Daily Free Press published an editorial reflecting on the results of the night before, while expressing our hopes for the administration to come. We were coming off of a contentious campaign, and we weren’t very impressed by what we had seen from candidate Donald Trump — but we thought that maybe, just maybe, President Donald Trump would be a little more, you know, presidential. We thought he might rise to the occasion. We thought he might prove us all wrong.
A year ago today, we were hopeful.
Today, it has been 365 days since that editorial, and almost 10 months since Trump took office. We have seen both how Trump has taken to the position and how the United States has taken to our president. And it isn’t a pretty story.
Today, we are no longer hopeful.
And it’s not hard to see why — in the past year, absolutely nothing about Trump has changed. He is exactly the same person in office as he was during his campaign. All of the things we had hoped to see Trump do, all of the wrongs of his campaign that we hoped he would right during his presidency, he failed at.
We didn’t expect him to become everything we had hoped for in a president overnight. We knew exactly who he was, and exactly what policies he was running on. But we hoped that he might surprise us.
A year ago today, we, the editors of The Daily Free Press, outlined a few hopes we had for the presidency that lay ahead of us.
After an election season marked by the tumult of Trump’s social media, we thought he might take a step back from all that. We hoped that when he was living in the White House, Trump might log off Twitter every once in awhile. And we knew it was asking a lot, but we hoped that he might even emulate Barack Obama a little bit, and use social media as a platform to connect with people. But his name calling and nonsense did not skip a beat. If anything, it got worse. From the moment of his inauguration, Trump’s 2017 Twitter presence has been nothing short of abhorrent.
A year ago, we stressed that the misogyny and sexism that permeated Trump’s career must be left on the campaign trail, and not carried with him into the presidency. Though his worst offenses did happen outside of Washington, he has certainly not been exemplary in the months since the election. Just because he wasn’t caught on tape boasting about sexual harassment while in office, doesn’t mean he’s been any kind of role model. This year especially, we could’ve used a president who would quickly and forcefully condemn sexual misconduct of all kinds, and we just didn’t get one.
Another hope we had last year — the most important one we harbored for the coming months — was for Trump to ensure he had the most “intelligent, able, action-seeking and commandeering support system” that he could. It is now obvious that we were shooting for the stars. The cronies he surrounds himself with are even worse than we ever imagined they might be. The cabinet members and advisers he hired have been dropping like flies. The ones that weren’t fired, resigned — and even the ones that he has managed to keep around are as unqualified for their positions as the president himself.
So here we are, one year later, and nothing has changed. Trump did not live up a single one of our hopes — hopes that we used to think were modest, reasonable ones. His presidency is every bit as depressing as his candidacy. Except that there is one big thing that has changed: Now, his ideas are spreading.
The Obama-hating, climate-change-denying, xenophobia-filled rhetoric that Trump won’t stop spewing has been starting to come to fruition. His unrealistic demands and political inefficiency have stopped some of his most offensive ideas from panning out, but between him and his cabinet, there has been some real damage done too. Things like travel bans and wall building are easy to keep under control, but other things, things like exiting the Paris Climate Agreement, will have effects that cannot be undone.
A year ago, we were hopeful. Today, we are sick of this, but determined to bring change. We could spend all day complaining and finding flaws with our president — it is clear that there are many. We could resign ourselves to our impending doom and wait until 2020 comes around. Or, we could push back. In this week’s election, we, the American people, elected some of the most progressive, forward-thinking candidates we could have hoped for into office. Things in Washington might be bad, but they are not unfixable. When we stay politically informed and involved, we can still do a lot of good.
We elected Donald Trump to one of the most powerful positions on the planet, and he has not taken the job seriously. He has not taken America seriously. But at the end of the day, maybe things will be OK — as long as Americans still do.