North Georgians awoke this morning as they did the Sunday before, to another January day of church services, household chores, dinner plans, the usual fare. The sun may not be shining, based on a gloomy forecast, yet it did not fall from the sky and incinerate the planet.
In fact, until the Falcons kick off this afternoon with a chance to reach the Super Bowl, there’s likely nothing otherworldly about this Sunday.
Except in the minds of many for whom something drastic has occurred. Some awoke to an America they feel is changed from two days ago. Because today, a different man occupies the White House, 600 miles from here.
No doubt, a president has an impact on how the nation is governed, and how the world views us. Given four to eight years in office, much can change, and it may well change quickly. But this Sunday, just two days into the presidency of Donald Trump, America is more or less the same place it was when Barack Obama held the office.
A president is nothing more than what we make him to be. There is a constitutional assignment of duties for commander in chief, one more limited than many who hold the post usually are willing to confine themselves to. Beyond that, its symbolic role has grown into more of a paternal figure, preacher, even royalty.
Recently, a series of stories from the Associated Press described “Trump’s America,” profiling different areas of the country that supported the new president, including our Lula. But is it really “Trump’s” America? Was it Obama’s, or Bush’s?
No, it’s the people’s America. Always has been, always will be.
The guy in the White House is someone we hired to fill a job, that’s all. We pay him decently, give him too much credit when things go well, too much blame when things go wrong, turn his hair stark white, then send him off with an “ex” before his name to give pricey speeches and find a spot for his library.
Before TV and the internet, most Americans went through their days with only a vague idea of who the president was, their daily lives focused on carving out a living in a young land. Even now, some who choose to isolate themselves are blissfully unaware of the latest Twitter dustup. Lucky cusses.
Yet whether or not we’re up on the capital’s latest palace intrigue, we don’t have to treat politics as life and death. Support the president or don’t, but know the world won’t end if “your guy” isn’t the one behind the eagle seal.
Some have already made up their minds about the new administration. Thousands of women marched Saturday at events nationwide voicing their concerns at his policies. Chants of “not my president” were echoed by others after the elections of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Yet he is, like it or not. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with him, or at any point accept this is “his” America. Just recognize him for what he is: a government employee.
Sadly, some opposition to Trump led schools to bypass showing the inauguration on TV to students in class, feeling it too divisive and likely to spark ugly exchanges. That’s a shame; whoever takes the oath, it’s an historic event. The nation has sworn in only 44 men to the office (one twice) and whenever the office changes hands, future generations should see and hear him so they can make up their own minds.
Over time, a president’s impact will be felt through his decisions made through instruments of government. Regardless, it’s still America, with the same strengths and flaws, hopes and dreams, flag and history.
Always great, still great. Greater in the future? We’ll see.
Georgians may enjoy more influence in the incoming administration since the Jimmy Carter years, even if Trump seems to think Atlanta itself is a crime-ridden wasteland, based on his snarky retort to Rep. John Lewis’ broadside.
Two Cabinet appointees are Georgians: Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s choice for Health and Human Services, and former Gov. Sonny Perdue, the pick to head the Agriculture Department. And Sen. David Perdue, a Trump supporter all along, may enjoy enhanced influence.
While many celebrate Trump’s victory as a renewal and move to “Make America Great Again,” it sparks worries from those still rubbed raw by his comments, tweets and past behavior. No doubt he doesn’t speak or act like presidents we’re used to, for better or worse.
But though he sits atop the federal government flow chart, he’s surrounded by thousands in the federal government who keep things humming along. Americans could vote a ham sandwich into the Oval Office and still the parks would open, money would be printed, the armed forces would protect us and the checks would be in the mail, thanks to the myriad unelected bureaucrats who keep the federal wheels turning.
We don’t yet know how it all will play out, but to assume disaster may be creating a self-fulfilling fate. If we rally behind the president when he’s right, he’ll succeed. If he’s wrong, there’s another election in four years to straighten him out.
Wait, watch and give him a chance to rise or fall. Let’s judge him less on what he said before and more on what he does going forward.
For now, it’s just Sunday. Go to church and pray our new president will serve us well, and let’s continue to serve each other, in our communities and beyond. Then put on your Falcons gear and cheer on our team against the Cheeseheads.
Life goes on. Presidents good and bad may come and go, but the sun is still up there somewhere and will shine on us again.
Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a a letter to the editor; you can use this form or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Times editorial board includes General Manager Norman Baggs, Editor Keith Albertson and Managing Editor Shannon Casas, plus community members Susan DeCrescenzo, Cathy Drerup and Brent Hoffman.