Monday, 23 January 2017

Opinions - Larger Than POTUS – Why Donald Trump should be able to say

Opinions - Larger Than POTUS – Why Donald Trump should be able to say: A thousand POTUSes rise and fall within me

What explains the unconventionality of Donald Trump’s inaugural speech as 45th president of the United States, where he eschewed the praise for his political opponents that is usual on such occasions but instead addressed the American people directly? For the first time, the United States, the ‘most powerful country in the world’, has a head of state who sees himself as above the presidency. He does not conform to conventional, learned behaviours of the presidency. He has the potential to rise above upadhi rog – designation-affliction – that plagues most of those who hold high offices like president or prime minister.
The POTUS status is unlikely to overshadow Trump’s own personality – because what he represents is more than POTUS. He may on occasion poke fun at the presidency but it is apparent that he does respect the sanctity of that office. Which is why when he talks of things that are not presidential in nature, he transcends POTUS. In his inaugural address, he gave the impression that he is impatient to dispense with ceremonial trappings and get on with the job. He knows that the best speeches are devoid of platitudes.
That Trump is immune to upadhi rog is evident, whereas high office holders even in India tend to walk, talk and conduct themselves differently once they assume office – which includes wearing bandh gala achkans in sweltering summer. If Trump says, “I am more than POTUS,” it might provoke shock and disdain among those who miss the spiritual impact of such a statement. But for those who don’t, if Trump were to follow that up by saying – “A thousand POTUSes may arise and collapse in me but that does not affect me” – it would be perfectly comprehensible.
By saying that the presidency is not his but the peoples’ – Trump makes it clear that the office of POTUS is incidental/ instrumental to his mission; it is not the ultimate destination. That Trump chose Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ for his first dance as President with his First Lady, indicates the unconventional flavour he is bringing to the White House as a president who is not presidential, for he is unlikely to let the designation subsume what he is. We can say, from the evidence, that Trump wears the office of president lightly on his sleeve. It is only in India that we believe you are not fit to hold an office which you think is bigger than yourSELF.

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