During the 2016 presidential election, Donald J. Trump ran on the idea of “Making America Great Again,” and ended up becoming our 45th president. Trump deserves our appreciation because he has already succeeded in his goal: He has made America great again, just not in the way he intended to.
Between his rocky campaign trail, which was rife with controversy, the general lack of respect he received from his own political party and the scorn he took from his opponents, Trump never stopped believing in his ability to win.
Once he did win, his cabinet choices were heavily scrutinized and protests against Trump’s election or policies, like the #NotMyPresident rallies or the Women’s March, have been a common occurrence.
The United States has always been a democracy and Trump’s win helped remind the country of this salient fact.
Children used to be told they could be anything they wanted when they grew up; even the president. But that thought seems like an empty platitude lately, considering the elitist nature of establishment politics.
Yet, Trump’s win shows that anyone really can become the president. Even someone without any political experience, a history of saying and doing some pretty outrageous things and without the support of the party he is running under, that anyone really can become the president.
After the dramatic win for Trump, public protests have become common in the news and on social media. Again, this is something to thank Trump for. When was the last time a president had to deal with constant public outcry? Unless you’re old enough to remember the Nixon era, you may struggle to answer that question.
Trump may have divided the nation, but he also inspired it to stand up for its beliefs. When Trump does something society doesn’t agree with, those affected feel empowered enough to speak up. In some sense, he single-handedly is responsible for the political awakening of this era.
There’s a reason that Time magazine named Trump their 90th “Person of the Year.” “The revolution he stirred feels fully American,” according to the Time website.
It’s not as if the minority groups affected by Trump’s policies, like the travel ban, haven’t suffered under previous presidents. Former President Barack Obama deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in U.S. history, according to Snopes.
Obama also put in place a short-term plan that greatly halted the number of incoming immigrants from countries like Iraq, according to CNN. Former President George W. Bush started the Office of Homeland Security after the events of 9/11 to greatly restrict immigration. Women’s and LGBTQ rights have always been under attack by conservative politicians; this is nothing new to Trump nor his cabinet.
But while those acts were seen as controversial in the past, America hasn’t truly seen anything as controversial as Trump.
But even after all of the controversial acts those past presidents committed, they haven’t risen to such a level of accidental inspiration as Trump has.
Trump’s cabinet has also helped in this inadvertent awakening of America’s public.
The public outcry against Betsy DeVos’ nomination to Secretary of Education was loud enough and caught the attention of enough congress members that Vice President Mike Pence had to make the first tiebreaker vote for a cabinet member in U.S. history.
This was followed by enough scrutiny aimed at Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn that he was forced to resign from his office in a mere 27 days. That resignation was followed by Andrew Puzder withdrawing before his confirmation hearings even occurred because of all the public scrutiny.
Trump’s win has raised the political awareness of the population to levels not seen since the mid 1900s, according to data from Pew Research Center.
Along with this political awareness, the public has finally figured out that they need to be aware of what they read and watch. Questioning authority is a vital part of independence, a value that Democracy thrives on.
From the controversies of the alt-right, fake news, agenda-driven news organizations or even the “alternative facts” scandal, the public has taken a crash course in media literacy whether they wanted it or not.
So, you don’t have to like Trump. You don’t even need to respect the man. It doesn’t matter if you voted for him or not. Just remember that regardless of how you feel about Trump, you should at least be thankful for the impact his victory had on America.
What made America great in the first place was its people and their passion for democracy, a passion that has been sorely lacking for quite some time. All it took was a common enemy for the people to wake up and realize that the first amendment isn’t just to talk back to cops.
So, thank you Trump. You have made America great again, even if you completely stumbled into it.