The last son of the American Household to treat the family car well was Ronald Reagan.
After him, George H.W. Bush treated it fairly well. He just didn’t take it anywhere great.
After him, Bill Clinton promised to take it somewhere inspiring. He actually didn’t drive it too badly. It is what he did inside the car that embarrassed the family. He used it as his personal booty wagon.
George Bush promised not to embarrass the family in the family car. He kept that promise but he did have two major wrecks. He wrecked the family car by over-extending the family in a war to destroy the government of Iraq and to rebuild it in our own image. Then he had a major wreck with the economic meltdown. Economists debate whether that wreck was his fault or the other driver’s fault. Either way, he was driving when it happened and it totalled the car.
Then came Barak Obama, the favorite son. He was cool. He was hip. He was charming. He was clever. And he was black. The family loved to love him. They loved him for him and they loved the chance to atone for the family sin of slavery and racism against its black sons and daughters. To the sons and daughters of color he was their inspiring hero. So the family threw the keys to the family car at him. He caught them on the run and put the pedal down on his political agenda of socialism, leftism and statism. He had some wrecks in his first term, but he was so clever at explaining how the wrecks were good for the family and the family loved him so much that they gave him the keys for a second term. In the end the wrecks damaged the family economy, security and social fabric. America still loves their favorite son, they just can’t drive that car anymore.
Hillary is the daughter who demanded her turn to have the keys to the family car. She was due. All daughters were due. The problem was that she promised to continue driving the family car the same way as her predecessor. She also had a few wrecks of her own with her pay to play foundation and her unsecured email. And she had Bill, the family embarrassment.
Donald Trump is the brash, crude and politically incorrect older son who went off and built an empire. He feels no love loss for the younger sons who wrecked the family car. He stood up at his inauguration and excoriated Barak and all the other sons and daughters who have been driving the family car for leaving it totalled. He has no deep political principles and he has no guilt for the family sins or for his own. He just lives to win. His purpose is to win. His moral code is to win. He wins at deals. He wins at having trophy wives. He won the keys to the family car. He has promised to make the family win.
I was visiting an older friend the other day who is struggling with cancer. When I went in I asked his wife how their children were doing. She said, “Oh, some good and some bad. You know.” The American Family, like all families is a mixed bag of good and bad. It is very human. We want every son or daughter who gets the keys to the family car to treat it well and to take it to great places. The trouble is that our sons and daughters are like us, very human. And they are driving the family car in a world that is very human. Wrecks happen.
Will Donald Trump wreck the family car or will he make it great again? For the Family’s sake and for the sake of the other Families of the world I hope he helps us make it great. How will the moral and political code of winning play out when we hit the inevitable national and international crises that will come? Will the will to win win the day? Sometimes it does. On the battlefield it often does. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes in matters of national unity or international relations it creates unnecessary failures, divisions and wars.
A new son is driving the family car. He won’t be perfect. He will probably have some wrecks. Hopefully they will not be beyond repair. Hopefully, when it’s over the car will be in good shape and in a good place. If it is, it will be a rare feat. I think the family does best when it realizes that none of its children are perfect. I think it does best when it holds each one accountable. I think it does best when it keeps emphasizing the big picture that we are one family and if you wreck the family car you fix it and if you keep wrecking it you lose it. I think the American family in general does that. That has been one of our strengths. Let’s keep the accountability going.