There are several things about the Trump presidency that concern me; his administration is a mixed bag, to say the least. But I was struck by one criticism out of Indian country that prompted me to remember one aspect of the nature of the governance of the United States that has changed since the origins of that nation.
As we roll up on the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, we have become accustomed to the concept of the career politician. There are still those who rail against it, yet it has become the status quo. People who engage in national politics are expected to do so as a career avocation. And those offices are now monetized in such a way that one term in office is sufficient to establish a long-term lifestyle arrangement.
Gone are the days of the public servant that temporarily lays aside his/her own avocation to offer a term of service to his/her country, after which they resume their previous activities. We forget that the Founding Fathers, whatever you may think of them, were successful businessmen who felt compelled to pledge their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to a cause greater than themselves. Several of the signers of Declaration of Independence paid dearly for that pledge.
Now we have a chief executive that has temporarily laid aside his own financial endeavors to offer service to his country. The merit of his efforts is far from decided and the impact of his legacy remains to be seen. But it seems rather disingenuous to criticize him for maintaining an interest in his personal affairs outside the realm of his responsibilities to the country.
By law, he will only have eight years to make his mark on the national history. At this point, I expect that he will then gladly return to his former activities without any further adieu. I have no reason to suppose that his motive is significantly different than that which he stated from the beginning: he wanted the opportunity to allow an individual from outside the political establishment to mold the trajectory of the national history for a change.
How that will ultimately play out remains to be seen. Whether or not the Trump empire continues to flourish while he is only peripherally involved in its day-to-day operations is just that: peripheral.