Wednesday, April 25, 2018

An Inevitable American President

This one comes from Joseph Ellis' biography of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx. In this quote, Jefferson is writing a letter to his daughter Mary:
"You must apply yourself, Jefferson lectured, 'to play on the harpischord, to draw, to dance, to read and talk French and such things as will make you more worthy of the love of you friends..... Remember too as a constant charge not to go out without your bonnet because it will make you very ugly and then we should not love you so much.'"
Melissa McEwan has noted that Donald Trump is an inevitable Republican president, not an anomalous one.  And, as we read passages like the above that contain verbiage that is Trumpian in nature, Trump is in many ways an inevitable American president, as well.

As Ellis acknowledged, Jefferson himself embodied a central contradiction in that "he crafted the most inspiring egalitarian promise in modern history while living his entire life among two hundred slaves." The first five founding father presidents either owned slaves themselves and/or, while they were in office, condoned the practice by failing to end it, in addition to being heads of state of a nation that excluded women from political participation.

Barack Obama has probably been the most decent president of my lifetime. But, of course, the public largely demands that people of color and white women be exponentially more decent than the basest white man in order to hold public office.

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