By Kristen Harris
It doesn’t take much to realize that many Americans are unhappy with the President and his actions. A quick look at international headlines will tell you that citizens of several other countries share the same sentiments about our leader.
As the “leader of the free world,” shouldn’t President Trump do more to earn the respect that the title deserves?
However, the American President is not the only democratic leader who has found himself or herself under the watchful eye of an international public.
For example, after last summer’s Brexit vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron came under so much fire that he stepped down from his leadership position. This is the sort of thing that leaves me wondering exactly what it takes for a democratic world leader to earn the respect of his or her own citizens.
British Prime Minister Theresa May won her spot as a democratic leader in a much tighter and quicker race than our own President did. She ran uncontested after her final opposer in the dwindling competition dropped out after suggesting that May’s lack of children made her less fit the run the country.
According to the Ipsos MORI survey for the Standard, she has a 53 percent approval rating amongst British adults. According to Gallup, she has a 66 percent favorability amongst American adults.
However, a similar Gallup poll says that the U.S. President only enjoys a 43 percent approval rating amongst his own people.
Another Ipsos poll found that four out of every 10 Americans would rather have Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as their President.
It’s figures like this that leave me wondering, what does it take for a democratic leader to earn the respect of his or her own citizens?
I’m not going to pretend that these polls represent the views of every single citizen, American or otherwise, with perfect accuracy.
However, they do seem to support the same political unrest that I see every day on my social media feeds or even just walking to class. We are a country divided over our feelings about our elected leader, but could that be fixed?
Let’s start with Trudeau. He’s a pretty popular guy on the internet. Even a quick Google search brings up headlines such as “Justin Trudeau Is the New Young Face of Canadian Politics” and “19 reasons why the world has fallen in love with Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau.”
The man represents a good ideal of what a leader should be. He personally greeted a few of the 25,000 Syrian refugees he allowed into the country at the airport. He acknowledges his privileged upbringing, but he doesn’t place himself on a pedestal. He seems to be a good man with a heart for his country.
However, most of the articles that I found didn’t discuss these things. Rather, these writers liked that he was young, liberal and tattooed.
Since President Trump can’t change his age, in order to get the internet’s approval, he’s going to need to get some ink.
Now, let’s take a look at Theresa May. In case you’re not familiar with British politics, here’s a quick primer.
The Prime Minister is the head of the majority party in the House of Commons. May became PM after David Cameron stepped down following the Brexit vote, in which the British elected to leave the European Union by a marginal majority.
Now that you’re all caught up, let’s get back to Theresa May.
She stands for a united U.K. She has promised to follow through with the unfortunate Brexit vote because that is what the majority of her citizens chose. She is fighting to keep the country together, recently promising to reject a vote for Scottish independence.
According to the BBC, she used to dream about becoming the first female PM (she’s the second). Like Trudeau, she’s been in politics for a long time, but like Trump, she’s a conservative.
From my (albeit little) research, I can’t come to a conclusion concerning the internet’s opinion of Theresa May. She is really determined about Brexit, though. Brexit was based on a popular vote, so, maybe Trump should fight for the results of our election popular vote?
All joking aside, the internet’s opinion of a leader does not represent a nation’s view of him or her any more accurately than a political poll does. There is no clear way to gauge every single citizen’s inner thoughts concerning the leader of the country.
We’re blessed to live in a democratic nation where our votes do matter, even if the majority votes differently than we do.
In order to earn the respect of the citizens, a democratic leader must simply act in their best interest. He or she should look at the media and look at the legislations on state ballots in order to form an idea of what the citizens want. A leader should be willing to hear both sides of an argument before forming a hard and fast executive order.
Most importantly, a leader should present himself or herself in such a way that the citizens will be unafraid to present their own ideas and concerns for debate. As for the citizens, we must be willing to open up those channels of communication.
Before you tweet about how much you hate the ‘Muslim ban,’ have you considered starting or signing a petition on the White House website? Next time you want to update Facebook on how much Trump hates women, why don’t you write him a letter instead to explain to him how fantastic we are? Rather than arguing with your roommate about the infamous wall, why not call your Senator’s office with ideas for opposing legislation?
Hey, if you feel strongly enough about an issue, why not write an article about it?
Regardless of how you feel about him as a President, remember that you have a voice in your government.
The President is not reading your Twitter. Instead of filling the internet with more useless hate, point your passion towards channels that can help you create change.
A leader can only earn as much respect as the citizens are willing to give. He cannot act in our best interests if he does not know what those interests are.