As embarrassing and degrading to the presidency as it was, President Trump's personal attack on cable news host Mika Brzezinski is an opportunity for us all to think about what kind of presidency we wish to see moving forward. Do we want to hold the leader of the free world to higher standards than the rest of us or is it OK for the president to moonlight as a Twitter troll in addition to running the country? Are we willing to defend the indefensible and betray our principles and values or is that a bridge too far? Incivility and a debasing of decorum didn't begin with the candidacy of Donald Trump, but the current occupant of the Oval Office is taking us to new lows.
We've certainly been let down before by leaders we expected more from, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton come to mind, but this is different. There's a meanness here that we haven't seen from a president, an abusing of the greatest bully pulpit in the world to play on our worst instincts. A shining city on a hill is being replaced with a Porta Potti at the bottom of a ditch. As our highest office continues to pump out insults instead of meaningful legislation, we have to decide if we want this to become a trend or a blip.
Although what President Trump did today is unheard of from a commander-in-chief, it's par for the course for many users of social media. Personal attacks meant to emotionally damage another individual has become more of a feature of Twitter and Facebook than a bug. Trolls seem to take pleasure in devising the most creative way to attack someone they disagree with, with no regard for the lack of dignity in their actions. We've come to accept this behavior from @AngryJoeWithEmotionalIssues45739, but we shouldn't accept it from @RealDonaldJTrump.
Do people personally and unfairly attack the president? Absolutely, but while that's wrong it also comes with the job and always has. Not responding to those attacks might not seem fair, but a president having the inner strength and self-control to rise above the pettiness sets a much-needed example for the country. With animosity and hostility as prevalent as it is online and in our media these days, there's an even greater urgency for those in power to show us a different way. It might sound cliche, but leadership starts at the top.
We're not going to change Donald Trump's ways but we can voice our outrage and let it be known that this behavior will not be tolerated from a president ever again. In a time when nothing seems to matter anymore, we can make it clear that the behavior of the person leading us does. We don't have to agree on policy to agree on common decency, and while we're likely a long ways away from repairing our politics, this could be the first step in rebuilding the respectability our current president seems hell-bent on destroying.