As the grandson of a Mexican immigrant – the cadre that Donald Trump labeled criminals and rapists – I was “Never Trump” from the start. As the father of two daughters, I was disgusted by the vulgar way Trump spoke about women. And, as a fan of George W. Bush, I was outraged when Trump blamed the former president for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But the election is over, and I’m giving our new president a chance.
Which is more than I can say for those anti-Trumpers – including protesters – who make a lot of noise, but don’t always make much sense. For instance, Trump’s critics want us to believe he had an easy life. But they also insist that he has failed at nearly everything he’s tried. Those are conflicting narratives. They need to pick one.
Otherwise, reasonable people might conclude that the loyal opposition is going to spend the next four years criticizing everything Trump does. And who wants to watch a reality show with such a predictable plot?
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The anti-Trump resistance might get more of us to tune into their message if they tried giving credit where it’s due, and acknowledge that our new president has at least one personal attribute that the American people admire: resilience.
Time and again, Trump has been able to pull himself up off the mat, bruised and bloodied, and get ready for another round. He refuses to give up no matter how many punches life hurls at him.
This guy is in the right place. America is the land of second chances. Our country’s tale is all about people from other countries who are out of options coming here for redemption.
That’s one of the first things that Trump got wrong when he ran for president. In announcing his candidacy, he insisted: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.”
Of course they are. No matter what country we’re talking about – Mexico, India, China, etc. – the folks who come here had the optimism, drive and energy to get off their rear ends and seek opportunity. These are the best people. In some cases, the slackers are the ones who stayed behind to live off the motherland.
Americans love a good comeback story. We don’t mind imperfection, because we’re not hung up on the perfect. We don’t trust it or even recognize it. Grandpa and Grandma were not perfect, but they were among the wisest people we’ve ever known. We accept that Aeschylus was right, and that suffering brings wisdom “through the awful grace of God.” We understand that we must fail – and bounce back from failure – to learn and to grow. And we know that those who don’t fail at anything probably aren’t aiming high enough to begin with.
It’s why three ex-presidents who served two terms each – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama – all lost their first campaigns for Congress but clawed their way back. And it’s why Mitt Romney – with his good looks, photogenic family, gold-plated résumé and $250 million fortune – was twice rejected by voters. When it comes to president, the perfect need not apply.
It’s also why Hollywood keeps making movies about a struggling and under-respected boxer who came up in hardscrabble Philadelphia. Rocky Balboa understands that life isn’t about how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and still get up.
Say what you want about Trump, this is a person who knows what it’s like to get hit – hard. Our new president is someone who had a cold and domineering father whom he could never please, who buried too young a brother he loved, who grew up in the outer borough of Queens and was looked down upon and dismissed by Manhattanites, who lost all his money in Atlantic City and was hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to the banks, and who failed at a dozen business ventures and two marriages. This is also someone who – when he ran for president – was mocked by late-night comics, attacked by the media, dismissed by more politically savvy opponents, and not given half a chance by more than half the country. And now that he has been elected, the attacks are more ferocious than ever. And yet guess what? He’s still standing.
My fellow Americans, meet our new president, Donald J. Trump. The Rocky Balboa of politics.
Ruben Navarrette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.