An interesting phenomena we’ve seen repeated throughout U.S. history is that somehow, either through providence or the wisdom of the American people or both, we’ve ended up with the right person as president to face the crisis at hand.
Donald Trump — the former businessman, who ran on the need to secure our border — is well-suited to the current crisis.
It is uncanny how America has been blessed in this way, over and over again.
At our nation’s founding, it was the reluctant George Washington who took the reins of the presidency.
In his first inaugural address, after being chosen by an unanimous Electoral College vote, the retired Revolutionary War commanding general lamented that his countrymen may have placed too much trust in his ability to be chief executive based on his past success on the battlefield.
But he entrusted himself and the nation to that Almighty Being “whose providential aids can supply every human defect” and accepted the responsibility.
So instead of a self-aggrandizing General Napoleon Bonaparte, who took dictatorial control of France shortly after its revolution in 1789, the United States was blessed with the self-effacing Washington, whose greatest desire was to see the new government under the Constitution successfully launched.
Washington set the gold standard for what public service looks like for all the presidents to follow.
One of Washington’s greatest admirers, Abraham Lincoln, would rise to the fore over 70 years later to lead the nation through the Civil War, which threatened to undue much of the American experiment in self-government.
This gentle, yet firm man, well-acquainted with disappointment and grief, seemed to have just the right words to assuage Americans’ pain, as well as inspire them to “accept war rather than let [the United States] perish.”
In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over the presidency during the heart of the Great Depression.
Despite the dire situation, he confidently proclaimed during his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Those words came from a man who had been struck with polio at the age of 39, paralyzing him from the waist down. FDR knew what it meant stare down one’s fears and move forward.
He would use the same spiritual muscles developed in his own personal crisis in the 1920s to lead the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.
At the dawn of the nuclear age in the 1950s, Americans chose former WWII Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower as their president. He led with a steady hand through some of the most complicated, perilous national security times the world ever faced.
When the United States was weighed down by a malaise in the 1970s, economically and otherwise, Ronald Reagan stepped forward to run for president.
The former California governor and movie star made his intentions clear: He wanted to revive the nation’s economy, which was entering into a steep recession, and restore the American spirit.
“We have every right to dream heroic dreams … and believe in our capacity to perform great deeds,” Reagan pronounced in his first inaugural address in January 1981.
“And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”
Two decades later, George W. Bush prevailed by the thinnest of margins in the 2000 presidential election.
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there was something so reassuring when this former Yale college football cheerleader took the bullhorn at Ground Zero and declared to the first responders, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
President George W. Bush’s famous Bullhorn Speech to Ground Zero rescue workers and first responders on September 14, 2001
“I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”pic.twitter.com/JNowdxgeJs
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) September 10, 2019
These recent days feel a little like the aftermath 9/11, with uncertainty about what the next weeks and months will look like.
Somehow, Trump seems well-suited for the moment.
Going into the crisis, the former New York businessman presided over one of the hottest economies in U.S. history, with the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.
Gallup found in January, “Americans’ confidence in the economy is higher than at any point in the past two decades.”
Trump takes that goodwill and trust in his economic policies into this present coronavirus crisis.
The president also knows what it means to make a payroll, and that no doubt helps instill confidence in business leaders that actions will be taken at the federal level to keep them afloat.
Further, the candidate who ran on building a wall on the southern border was quick to shut down travel from China in January after learning of the coronavirus outbreak, and has closed down travel from much of Europe, Canada and other parts of the world since.
Even Trump’s personal hygiene practices (he’s previously described himself as a “germaphobe,” and “clean-hands freak”) seem particularly helpful at this point in time.
Call it divine providence (which I believe in), the wisdom of the American electorate or both, but somehow during the nation’s most challenging times, the right person arises as president to see us through.
This time around appears to be no different.
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