Anthony DiStefano

Anthony DiStefano, of Aiken, spent 29 years in state and federal government including with the Ohio General Assembly, the U.S. House of Representatives and two executive agencies of the federal government.

The tragicomedy in Washington continues unabated. It's important to remember where we were, to know where we are and how we got here. I can sort of understand how Donald Trump was elected president. The American people were sick and tired of all the polarization, gridlock, extreme partisanship in Congress and between Congress and the president. So, in November 2016, enough voters – 70,000 total – in three key states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, made Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States (aided by the Electoral College – Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes). That's the way it was, as I see it.

People who voted for Trump hoped that he would “shake things up in Washington," bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats, and make the government serve the people again. Some of those who voted against him, though worried about his lack of experience, were willing to give him a chance. People who didn't exercise their right to vote, well, they were just irrelevant and have to live with the consequences.

However, after almost 2 and 1/2 years of the Trump Administration, it should be obvious that Donald Trump was not the president we hoped for and need. He is shaking things up, mostly not for the better. He and his appointees have become part of the problem, not the solution. Not only are we and our government as or more divided than ever; now, our democracy itself is in jeopardy and up for grabs.

What do I mean? It seems that respect for, and obedience to, the Constitution, the rule of law and our basic institutions have eroded. This is not only President Trump's fault, nor exclusively an American problem. Republicans and Democrats in Congress still are unable to work together for the common good. In addition, democracies are under siege around the world; some of them already have been replaced by authoritarian rulers.

Of all the things that can be said about Donald Trump, both pro and con, one thing stands out above the others. The president is supposed to be the president of all the people, not just of those who voted for him. He is supposed to provide leadership, bring us together, help bind our wounds, offer real solutions to our problems and move our nation forward into the future. These things he is not doing. It's not too late for President Trump to make a midcourse correction (in this case, an about face) and for all our elected representatives in Washington to be more honest and cooperate and compromise their differences instead of lying and playing politics with everything.

If we Americans want to continue to be a democracy – or a republic, which is nothing more than a representative democracy – have a voice in who governs us and to what ends, and if Donald Trump wants to be remembered in history as at least a good president, then we, and he, had better get busy.