Donald Trump Reminds Us That Politics Is Life by Robert Covington Jr.

“Being President doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are” -Michelle Obama

The quote above is from the convention that Michelle Obama gave in 2012 in expressing her public support of her husband Barack Obama during his re-election campaign. It is one of the most profoundly prophetic words that a person can say about a person becoming president — and could aptly be applied to people entering politics in general.

Barack Obama was the product of a bi-racial relationship and was primarily raised by white grandparents due to the early and unfortunate passing of his mother — but while she was alive, she loved him deeply and stressed the power of education. Barack’s biological African father played a very limited role in his day to day life for a variety of reasons, and as we’ve learned through Barack’s seminal book: , this dynamic and reality impacted him greatly. His childhood and youth in general, grounded Barack in empathy, love, longing for a relationship with a dad that he never had, and a search for black identity while simultaneously recognizing the duality of (white) identity that raised him.

It was no accident that Barack Obama’s community organizing came from a place of empathy and compassion for fellow Americans. His landmark success in fighting and seeing the Affordable Care Act enacted and millions of Americans getting healthcare is a clear reflection of his empathy through politics.

It is no accident that Obama decided to use his intellectual brilliance and applied it to law with a particular focus on the constitution because it spoke to identity of himself and the nation. It is no accident that Obama was known as a person who tried very hard to compromise with those who not only disagreed with him, but wanted to see him politically destroyed, was likely influenced by the duality of his identity showing itself in his politics.

It is likely no accident that Barack’s commitment to his children as a father and his sometimes ill placed language of talk in front of black audiences was influenced by not having his biological father around to raise him. And it is likely that Obama allowed himself to grow in this area with the start of his initiative: , which focuses on valuing and uplifting boys and men of color is a recognition of Obama’s growth in understanding the realities that people that look like him face in an often unfair world.

Barack Obama’s life shaped his politics. It shaped his values, priorities and informed us as to how he would govern if given the power to impact millions of Americans. The pressures of the office forces you to recoil to yourself, your experience, your instincts and your vision of how you want things to be.

Let us look at how Donald Trump grew up. Trump grew up in a cold, harsh, unloving household. His father was embarrassed by him but tolerated his presence because he saw enough of his cruel and heartless self in his son to carry on the business when it was clear that his eldest son Fred Trump Jr, wasn’t wired by the same ruthlessness of his dad.

Donald Trump’s father taught him how to exploit others, hate others and to only care for himself. Trump’s mother was emotionally never available to her son and Trump never experienced affection, attachment or a sense of safety with his parents. Mary Trump’s and Dr. Justin Frank’s provide great insight into a deeper understanding of the influences on Trump’s character and personality makeup.

Donald Trump’s life shaped his politics. Trump’s response to the coronavirus is the clearest example as to how his lack of empathy for others was the gateway to evil and catastrophic consequences for fellow human beings. Americans have gotten sick and over 234,000 have died an isolated, lonely death.

Donald Trump’s life shaped his politics. Trump’s life of rule breaking, norm breaking, malignant narcissism, hiding his misdeeds through non-disclosure agreements and of women showed up in his politics. Trump has constitutional foundations, broken almost every norm when it comes to presidential conduct and his behavior towards women has been reprehensible but totally expected.

Hopefully as a nation, we’ve finally learned that politics is life, not just some party affiliation. That it is critical to thoroughly examine politicians and their past life experiences before they are granted enormous power and to be honest with ourselves about what it reveals. The human experience will inevitably be funneled through the political experience.

Donald Trump painfully reminded us that what is in your heart and mind, will be reflected in power. If you have no love, compassion or empathy for people that do not look like you, it will show up in your politics. If you don’t care about the environment, it will show up in your politics. If you don’t care about science, it will show up in your politics. If you are experiencing pain in your life and you want to feel better about yourself by wanting others to suffer more, it will show up in your politics. Character is destiny. Yes, so true. And we now know politics is life too.

Follow me on twitter: @robcovingtonjr

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