Eight years old. Or maybe I was nine, and with the calendar showing it was Hanukkah I was, perhaps as excited as I’ve ever been. Somehow I’d given myself the idea that an electric train set displayed at a local toy store would be one of my eight gifts for the holiday. And I regarded my parents’ warnings—that I was NOT going to get an electric train for Hanukkah–as their attempt to set me up for the inevitable happy surprise. Our family’s tradition was to give each of the kids one gift on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah. On the first night, I received a pair of socks. The next night it was a gayly wrapped present of a new toothbrush. And the things I got each succeeding night were pretty much from the same gift catalog.Of course, my expectation grew until the eighth and final night, with my excitement as much on fire as the candles. That’s when I received……Hanukkah “gelt”. That’s right. No train. Just some quarter-shaped pieces of stale milk chocolate wrapped in gold colored foil. Huh?
Years later I had a much more important expectation as I marched, over a period of several months, with various groups of protestors in order to make people aware of the terrible practice of racial discrimination, and about the need to bring young Americans home from the foolish, murderous adventure in Vietnam. It seemed we were making progress with public opinion swinging in our direction and the passage of civil rights and voting protection laws. I was committed fully to the expectation that because of our efforts—mine along with hundreds of thousands of other concerned Americans—the movement for justice and peace was spreading throughout the country. It was unlikely that we’d see all the necessary significant changes right away. But I’d given myself the idea that at the rate it was evolving, within ten years—maybe fifteen at the most—this country would be the generous, non-discriminatory and peace loving America friends and I imagined.
So, fifty-some years later, what happened? We didn’t get Hilary for our 45th and first woman president. But somehow I’d given myself the idea that Donald Trump, whom I do not like and did not vote for, would put aside his childish, arrogant ways and stand up to the responsibilities of the job many (but not everybody) believed he had won.
Another example of the sorry results that can follow when I’ve established an expectation.
And I’m not alone. There are millions and millions of Americans — at least three million more than the count of citizens who voted for Trump—whose hopes, who’s expectations, were the same as mine. Then came the mistaken idea fed to us by a number of political news analysts that once he sat in the Oval Office and realized the gravity of his responsibilities, the racist, misogynistic narcissist would settle down and begin to learn how to do his job before he started to make critical decisions. So we steeled ourselves against our fears and we hoped for the best.
You’ve likely notice we were misled by “the gravity of the office” argument. Trump proves every day and in many of the ways he behaves that when we picture him “growing into” the role, we’re indulging in another expectation of something that falls considerably short of reality.
We’re horrified by every episode of the “Trump in Washington” reality show. We’re continually shocked and outraged by what he says and what he does. We’re angry that he creates trouble for no discernible reason other than having his name in the headlines in a way that distracts everyone from what’s really going on. And we agonize over the fact that instead of regarding him as the government’s “class clown,” the press and the legislature take seriously his many ridiculous assertions, and feel that they need to investigate—as if they are actual events—the “millions of illegals who voted for Hilary,” the “crowd size” at his inauguration, the role of the former president in the “wiretapping of phones at his Trump Tower office.”
I’m no longer surprised by any of what goes on in the White House and on the Trump Trail. I used all of my ready supply, even my reserves of outrage months ago.
And you can stop being shocked, disbelieving and outraged too. It serves no purpose. We knew what we might be getting well over a year ago during the Republican Primary debates. We knew then that he doesn’t understand the issues, that he’ll say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear, that he’s capable of telling three lies in two sentences, that his campaign “promises” are merely the opening suggestion in the negotiation he anticipates, and that contradicting himself comes as easily to Trump as cinching up one of his $1,200 neckties.
I learned it’s not difficult to stop being outraged by the behavior and words of our president. I need simply to remove the “expectations” filter from my view, and see the two-bit hustler from the glitzy and sleazy side of the building trades for what he is. Then get busy finding a volunteer opportunity with an organization devoted to getting rid of him.