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Who will mourn Trump when he’s dead?

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Yesterday was President’s Day, and my memories automatically went back to Nov. 22, 1963, to the moment I heard that the President had been shot.

I was a freshman in college. A bunch of us gathered in somebody’s room in the men’s dorm to listen to the radio. Then, sometime after the lunch hour, the bulletin was flashed: President Kennedy is dead.

We were in such shock that we didn’t know what to do. I retreated to the privacy of my room, lay down in bed, and wept. I instinctively realized that something besides JFK had died that day. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it had to do with America and the innocence which had prevailed over our country through the lazy, sleepy Eisenhower years, leading up to the excitement of this young, handsome, mesmerizing candidate and president. And now, he was gone, in the most violent way.

The entire country was plunged into mourning. It’s hard for people who weren’t alive then to understand how deep was our grief, how profound our sense of loss. Everywhere you went, you felt it. Nobody asked who was a Democrat, who a Republican. This was a catastrophe that afflicted every one of us, and like most grievous losses, it affected each person in an individual way. It was the defining moment for my Baby Boom generation. To some extent, I believe that the ensuing period of “sex, drugs and rock and roll” was for stanching the gaping wound in our hearts.

Now let us imagine that someone assassinates Donald J. Trump. Does anyone think that the American people would react with similar grief? Hardly. The one-third of the nation that stands by him would no doubt be angry, and sad; depending on whom the assassin was, they would invent conspiracy theories, and I’m quite sure that Hillary Clinton would be involved.

But I have no doubt that the other two-thirds of the country would celebrate. There might even be spontaneous parades. There would be voices calling for sobriety and respect for the Trump family, but by and large the feeling of most Americans would be relief at being spared this horrendous, culpable man, who took a wrecking ball to our country and its values.

That is the real meaning of the phrase Not My President. It doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize that Trump is legally the American president. In a purely formal sense, Trump is POTUS. But Not My President means that we don’t recognize the spiritual, mystical bonds that normally tie together a sitting president with the American people—precisely the kind of bond we felt with President Kennedy. The American people also felt that bond with President Lincoln, especially after he was assassinated, which is why the beautiful words in the Lincoln Memorial read: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people, for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”

Can you imagine anyone saying anything like that about Trump? It is inconceivable. In the hearts of most Americans, he’s a repugnance. Our memories, once he is gone, will be of an ugly stain upon America. There will never be a temple for Trump. Future Americans will look back at him the way Germans look back at Adolf Hitler, with a mixture of disbelief that they actually elevated such a demented person to power, and shame that they did.

The place where JFK is buried, in Arlington National Cemetery, is hallowed ground. People who visit have the feeling of being in a holy place; it’s not uncommon to see them kneeling and praying, or just standing silently, with grave respect for a fallen hero. We don’t know where Donald J. Trump will be buried, but I suspect that it will be someplace the public isn’t permitted to visit. The Trump family knows if that Trump’s tomb is accessible to people, it will not be hallowed, but will experience vandalism, graffiti, garbage dumping and other forms of profanation, the only possible way for an indignant people to express their rage and disgust.

  1. Paul Stark says:

    Steve

    Well done. Couldn’t agree with you more.

    Paul Stark

  2. Nice to hear from you, Paul. I hope you’ll work to make sure that Florida doesn’t go Republican in the 2020 election. Regards!

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