It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us.
On this Presidents’ Day weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about our founding fathers, the foundation they built, and yes, the president overseeing that foundation today.
Donald Trump has unleashed something that few other politicians have been able to do. He did something in my own home that I as a parent wasn’t really successful at doing.
But somehow Donald Trump did it.
He got everyone interested in civics, the government, and, yes, the press.
Yes, he did. Today, my kids and their friends are engaged in our democracy in a way that I have never seen. They follow the news like it’s their business. They ask really smart questions about executive orders, about the role of the national security advisor, and about the justice department and how its jurisdiction differs from the FBI. They talk about the new Supreme Court pick and how he might impact the Supreme Court and hence, the laws of our nation. They talk about the ninth circuit and about what’s constitutional and what’s not.
They know the names of the people “in the room,” thanks in large part to their avid consumption of all forms of news media (which, thankfully, is enjoying a record number of subscriptions and ratings).
And speaking of the news, what a week for journalism.
It was an incredible week for those in it, for those defending it, and for those who have invested millions into it, like Jeff Bezos (yes, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos). Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million in 2013 and has invested millions more into its investigative journalism, empowering them to be able to break stories like the one they did this week.
America is so alive that it feels as energized as the Broadway play “Hamilton” (which I saw for the second time last week). People are engaged in our democracy. They are writing and calling their representatives. They are taking to the streets. They are making their voices heard. And perhaps most amazingly, there are record numbers of people jumping into the arena.
Meanwhile, middle and high school teachers across the country are reporting that their students are showing a level of engagement in civics that they haven’t seen in years. Lindsey Beam, a teacher in Greer, S.C., told the NY Times that her students now “know a lot, and they’re proud that they know a lot. What’s on their radar in terms of world events and domestic issues has grown exponentially.”
Believe it or not, civics are hot. The news is hot. Facts are as “in” as a pair of Yeezy sneakers. And politics is way hotter than any reality show on TV. Who would have thought? (I can’t wait to see the ratings for that president’s much-debated news conference.)
So on this Presidents’ Day weekend, I want to thank the founding fathers for building us that strong foundation.
I want to applaud the press for staying on the story and for letting us know “who’s in the room” and what they are saying, even if those people deny what they’re actually saying. The press is not “an enemy of the American people,” as President Trump tweeted on Friday. It is, as founding father Thomas Jefferson once wrote, the very thing that guards our liberty.
I also want to shout out to all those who are showing up, speaking up and letting our elected leaders and the president know what they think, what they care about, and what they are willing to fight for.
So as accusations fly, it’s important to remember that our nation’s strong foundation is indeed intact. The three branches of government work. And we are lucky to live in a country with a free press.
Every president has to find their way of dealing with it.
So before our president decides if he wants to continue bashing it, it might be worth listening to another president who tried that strategy.
History offers us all lessons for the future. It’s up to each of us to learn from them.
Happy Presidents’ Day.
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