Tomorrow [January 20, 2017], the 45th president of the United States of America will be sworn in. Never in my wildest dreams did I, nor millions of Americans envision Donald J. Trump in that role.
Millions of Americans, myself included, are scared, apprehensive, curious (add other adjectives at will) how President Trump will act as our nation’s leader. During the presidential campaign and even recently, his behavior has been unpredictable and viewed as racist, misogynist and crass. Looking back in history, it is somewhat comforting to know that more than a few presidents have displayed arrogant, obnoxious or “unpresidential” behavior and our country has remained whole.
Most Americans, even those who admire and support the future President Trump, have no idea of what he will really do. Will he build that wall and who will pay for it?
Will he completely abolish “Obamacare?” One of his promises was to “drain the swamp of political and Wall Street insiders in Washington, but it looks like there are quite a few of those “alligators” circling the White House moat.
But, back to history and past presidents’ behaviors. Writers for the Christian Science Monitor, Pew Research and the New Republic have suggested that our next president has some personality characteristics in common with John Adams (second president), his son, John Quincy Adams (sixth president),
Andrew Jackson (seventh President and John Tyler (tenth president). Although these men were viewed as bright and politically experienced, they were seen as temperamental, bull-headed, impulsive and having numerous interpersonal crises.
John Adams’ difficult interpersonal issues were humorously portrayed in the musical “1776” and he was reported to accept advice only from one source–his wife, Abigail. He signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, the former dealt harshly with immigration problems and the latter permitted punishing journalists if they made what was considered malicious or false claims against government officials. According to a biographer, Paul Nagel, John Quincy Adams, the son of President Adams, was “notorious for his harshness, tactlessness and even rudeness,” yet also appreciated for the Monroe Doctrine and ending the War of 1812.
Andrew Jackson was said to be arrogant and involved in brawls, yet respected for his opinions, John Tyler’s wife died while he was president. He then married a much younger woman and bragged about his sexual prowess. He vetoed legislation he promised to sign and five out [of] six of his cabinet members resigned.
Other presidential scholars suggest that Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson had some personality traits similar to our newest president. Both were known for their domineering and controlling behavior as well as “earthy” language. Other presidents have been under scrutiny for their behaviors. Richard Nixon apparently believed that any means justified the ends; we know how that saga ended.
Bill Clinton led this nation through much prosperity, but his sexual indiscretion left a lasting memory. Without accurate evidence and faulty rationale, George W. Bush led us into a war that destabilized the world.
No one in this nation, except perhaps the three oldest Trump children and his son-in-law, have a real understanding of America’s 45th president and what he will or will not do as he takes control of the highest office in the land.
History tells us that our nation has survived numerous past presidents who have made poor choices or had difficult personalities; some have even achieved good results. For our nation’s sake, we must hope that this holds true for President Donald J. Trump and that he will not twitter away his potential for positive effects.
[Diane W. Mufson is a retired psychologist. This article first appeared in the Huntington, WV Herald-Dispatch, where Ms Mufson is a regular contributor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]