It happens every four years, but this time its a bit different. The inauguration of Donald Trump today, January 20, 2017, stands as one of the most unique political transitions in the history of the American presidency. Love him, hate him or just tolerate him, he represents more than a new breed of populist, but a new vision of legacy for the American presidency.
In the days leading up to his inauguration Donald Trump has defied convention, and historical patterns of presidential behavior on matters ranging from foreign policy to his determination to make direct commentary to the American people about broadway shows and Saturday Night Live.
Presidential legacies, like family legacies, are crafted by more than policy decisions. They way a leader choses to speak to his audience, his demeanor, whether he adopts a spirit of graciousness or not, all of this becomes part of the greater legacy which is left behind. Its true for nations and its true for families.
The man responsible for greatest presidential legacy, George Washington, through self-restraint, tone, humility, and deference to others established practices and protocols which became associated with the best spirit of the American presidency. We speak of them today.
What will be the legacy of our newly inaugurated 45th president? Time will tell. But his presidency provides an important opportunity for parents to consider the type of leaders they want to be for their own children. It is even possible, for better or for worse, President Trump’s leadership style will have a greater impact on Americans than his policies.
Will the American people be more cras or less, more gracious or less, more respectful or less following the model of their leader? Will they become more decisive, more open to new ways of thinking? Like all men, our new president is a composite of many different qualities, some good and some less desirable. He will be scrutinized at levels that no parent would ever want to be subjected to. And yet, now is the time to listen and learn recognizing that old legacies are about to be torn down and new ones created.
This Inauguration Day, gather your children and start your discussion about legacy, not just of our nation, but of your family — what you want, and how to get there. And consider the word of our first president in his inaugural address:
“’If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair, the event is in the hands of God.”