the codependence of Biden and Trump

Ok, friends, let’s do it. Let’s go totally political today because we can. And because we know we’re going to be inundated with a coming monstrosity of ads, insults and manipulated impression management the closer we get to 2024 — and will thus need to turn the TV off and stay away from all newsy sources and sites in order to maintain some sense of individual sanity. Today, though, just today, before things get tougher, tenser and rhetorically turbulent, let’s talk one aspect of the 2024 presidential race.

Ugh. Egad. We said it out loud. Well, out loud for a blog post, that is.

The exasperated sigh within the above “ugh” and “egad” is because we know this is going to get ugly. I will say it and think it some three zillion times between now and ‘24’s November. I just don’t understand how seemingly intelligent people can justify speaking so consistently horribly about other people. On both sides of the aisle. One of my most prominent takeaways from recent election cycles is how obvious it is that intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing. The wise one never justifies ongoing insult and disrespect.

So before more magniloquent fuel stokes the partisan fire, allow me to share a working supposition I’m playing with at the onset of the upcoming election season. Note that a supposition is only a theory — and a working one at that. But increasingly more, I’m believing it to be true…

Presidents Joe Biden and Donald Trump need each other, and as a country, we need neither.

Hear no inflammatory rhetoric. No ferocity either. With all due respect, from this admittedly limited, distant vantage point, I think Joe needs Donald, Donald needs Joe, and we as a country would be better off if neither of them was our primary leader.

Let me be as plain-stated as possible. When I listen to Pres. Trump, I rarely walk away impressed by any deep sense of humility. I don’t find him consistently compassionate. I thus often feel his real campaign slogan is “Elect Me Because I’m Donald Trump.”

When I listen to Pres. Biden, there are multiple moments where cognitive decline is clearly in question. I don’t find him consistently competent. But he beat Trump once. I thus often feel his real campaign slogan is “Elect Me Because I’m NOT Donald Trump.”

Both of them seem to be running on a referendum on the 45th President of the United States. Such was evident in each of their reelection campaign announcements. Neither touted a litany of accomplishment; each alluded more to personality than policy.

Friends, as a country, we’ve got some tough challenges in need of discerning next best steps and efficient solutions… the economy, health care, immigration, inflation, spending, national security, individual safety, civil liberties, welfare, election integrity, environment, poverty, climate, crime, gun deaths, free speech, religious freedom, national unity, not to mention China, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, and so much more. But if two people from two different angles are more focused on who they are or are not, that tells me it’s less about us than it is about them. And if it’s about them, then they are not serving our country well.

There is no one person our country is in dire need of. In fact, every HR director worth his or her salt, so-to-speak, will tell you that the best leaders are those who know they are replaceable — who know that we can survive and actually thrive with or without them… Do your job. Do it well. But have a level of self-awareness that recognizes you are just one person. You are not Jesus. You are not the Savior we are desperately in need of… I admit. I respectfully question the self-awareness of both the current and most recent President.

Presidents Biden and Trump keep acting like we need them. The reality is they need each other; it plays into their desired mantra since neither is popular with a majority of the country. So they propagandishly paint the other as some sort of death to democracy, and then each act as if they alone can and need to save us. Sorry. That’s misleading and used to promote their own partisan cause. There are far more people on this planet who are both compassionate and competent and know they are not called nor capable of being our Savior. There are far more people on this planet who know how to respect more than one political party.

We’re not the only ones noting this national dysfunction. NBC’s “Meet the Press” — not known for their absence of bias — kicked off this week’s “First Read” briefing by calling it “the codependent presidential campaign of 2024.” It’s codependent because the majority of us don’t want either to be President, but Biden and Trump are each relying on the other, nemesis and all, to help them get there. 

To be clear, “codependence” is unquestionably unhealthy. We deserve better and more.