Newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he begins his inaugural address during ceremonies swearing him in as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Conventional wisdom asserts that Americans are apathetic when it comes to politics.
People either don’t care, or are fed up. So how do you explain what is happening with Americans – wherever they live, anywhere around the world – after the rock’em sock’em US presidential election that put Donald J. Trump into office? They can’t stop talking about it.
Since the inauguration anecdotal evidence tells us that it is nearly impossible to go anywhere or engage in any conversation without hearing the name “Trump.”
People are as aggressively supportive as they are enthusiastically critical.
In shuls, in cabs, on the subway, on supermarket checkout lines and on just about every Main Street USA, at least one person is always ready to express a strong opinion about the current president – and the person next to him is only too eager to chime right in.
It is a new and unique phenomenon that is taking over the American psyche.
The best part of the phenomenon is that people are defying conventional wisdom, throwing apathy out the window and talking about politics. America is starting to care about politics. Many of the voices involved in the conversation may not have even voted in the last presidential election, but even that does not stop them from being activated and taking a stand.
On the Jewish side this phenomenon seems exponentially magnified.
Jews seem to talk more about their expectations, pride, anger and disappointments than non- Jews. That does not surprise me – it’s what we do. This time, however, it has reached a heightened frenzy.
And that’s why I feel compelled to enter the conversation and inject a sense of perspective.
People, Americans, lovers of Israel, active and non-active members of the Jewish community, know that the United States is a resilient democracy. You must believe that no matter for whom you cast your ballot, no matter where you stand and no matter what your perspective is on this president. The foundations of the republic are not being shaken and will not be shaken.
They may even be bolstered.
The election of Trump is a revolution in American political history.
Not to recognize that simple fact is to turn a blind eye to the truth.
And another simple fact is that this president’s approach to Israel will be very different from the approach and attitude of his predecessor, Barack Obama. If that was not obvious until now, pay attention to the answer President Trump gave to Sean Hannity, Fox News host and one of candidate Trump’s biggest supporters and on-air backers.
In response to a question on how he would go about repairing the relationship between the US and Israel, President Trump explained it was already a done deal. “It’s repaired,” he said. “It got repaired as soon as I took the oath. It’s repaired. We have a good relationship.
Israel has been treated very badly. We have a good relationship with them.”
In Trump’s mind, as it should be in all our minds, the moment he was sworn into office, the relationship between the US and Israel was transformed.
And about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? President Trump responded, “I don’t want to talk about it, it’s too early.” The important point here is that Trump sees the complexity involved in moving the embassy.
He, as president, is not jumping to make the move and the word circulating in the corridors of Washington, DC, and coming from various Israeli press outlets is that Israeli leadership is asking the newly- installed American leadership to slow down the pace of the embassy move.
This may upset some Trump supporters and be fodder for the fire of Trump antagonists – but so be it.
Let’s not be fooled. We cannot make the mistake of confusing unconditional support for 100% agreement. But, unlike Obama, Trump is not stealthily, sneakily, going to hand over $221 million to the Palestinians the moment he thinks no one is watching. Obama’s last move in office, moments before Trump placed his hand on a Bible and was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, approved giving the Palestinians $221m. It was his final jab in a series of jabs at Israel and at Prime Minister Netanyahu.
The phenomenon overtaking Americans now is to be applauded.
For the first time in a long time, people are really excited about politics. Wherever they stand on the spectrum, whether they are expressing fear and concern or excitement and appreciation, they are talking about politics. That’s a good thing.
The author is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.