The past four years have caused a dramatic shift in national identity and everyday life, from interactions with family members to whether we wear a mask on a walk. We have former President Donald Trump to thank for this change, and we should never forget that.
Since Trump left office, it feels refreshing to look forward to the future of the United States. We no longer need to rummage through the countless tweets from Trump, trying to discern what is true and what is not. More than that, we might be more inclined to make a mockery of Trump and think back on his time like it was a bad breakup 20 years ago. But it was not. His mark has been left on this country, and we must continue to hold him accountable as a continued public figure in the United States.
In the wake of the Trump administration, many look to diminish the former president’s role in our country. Students, influencers and night show hosts have referred to him as a “former social media influencer,” “Home Alone 2 actor” or “former reality tv-star” in their tweets, Instagram stories and opening monologues. But let’s face it: He is not completely out of the spotlight. Trump needs to be held accountable for the impact his presidency has had on the nation. Even though he is not in office, we are still living with severe COVID-19 restrictions, while other countries’ leaderships have mastered slowing the virus’s spread.
He is not a person we can joke about, at least for now. Making light of his impact disconnects Trump from the aftermath of his presidential term that we still face today. Continuing to hold him accountable is the first step in recovering from his administration, but we seemed to have skipped past the recovery stage and begun to talk about him like unbearable middle school years.
Students, faculty and staff must remember that D.C. is still in a state of fragility from the U.S. Capitol attack in response to the 2020 election results. The GW community should keep in mind the lasting impact he has had on the District, from soaring COVID-19 caseloads to considering the use of “heat rays” on Black Lives Matter protesters last summer. These national regressions have caused undeniable harm and have directly impacted the student experience at GW. Joking about Trump and discrediting his administration turns Trump into a character, distancing the former president from the very real impacts of his term.
Diminishing Trump’s role to that of an influencer or actor takes away the power he held. Students cannot turn Trump into a joke, because we need to use his presidential term as a foundation for change. Students must continue to point out his shortcomings and lead the charge for healing. We should not use satire to move on from his term because his impact continues to percolate into everyday American life.
The country’s shutdown, D.C.’s fragility and our compromised college experiences are not the result of a reality television star, a social media influencer or the guy from “Home Alone 2.” The current state of our society lies on the shoulders of the former president of the United States. We cannot forget that.
Beatrice Phillips, a sophomore majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.