The title quote above is indelibly etched into my mind as it was emblazoned over the stairway from the crew locker room down to the boat storage area in the USNA boat house at Hubbard Hall. For four years every time I passed by that sign I took it onboard. As college rowers we knew its meaning. It takes mental toughness as well as physical fitness to compete at a high level. You can quit or you can fight through it. The quote is attributed to General George S. Patton or Vince Lombardi — take your pick — but its origin is unclear. Its meaning is not and it stayed with me through all of the years since then.
Its relevance takes on a new dimension to me in the current political atmosphere. The President of the United States is so outrageous in his daily Tweets, rallies and pronouncements to the press that it wears me down. It is truly fatiguing. It becomes part of the background of daily life. It becomes too easy to say that it is just Trump being Trump.
But we cannot. We cannot give in to that fatigue. He must be called out each and every time that he spouts hateful, racist and misogynistic things.
When E. Jeanne Carroll alleges that Mr. Trump raped her and he responds that it couldn’t have happened because “she’s not my type” we should ask what type of woman would Mr. Trump rape?
When Mr. Trump racially attacks members of Congress that oppose his ideas we must call him out. The latest episode comes this weekend with an attack on Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the city of Baltimore. What does Mr. Trump mean when he says about Baltimore that “no human being would want to live there”? We should recognize that he knows full well that the city is majority African-American. Does that mean that they are not human?
The outrageous lies are endless. Mr. Trump is the most deliberately divisive president in my lifetime. Probably, he is the most divisive since the U.S. Civil War. Why do we tolerate it?
The Trump will be Trump argument is weak and cowardly. It is not okay. He is not what America is about. He has bullied the Republican Party to the point that good Americans that three years ago decried his abhorrent behavior now go meekly along. They pretend that they did not hear or are too busy to notice the latest insult. Or worse, they defend his comments.
Mr. Trump is a master of the playground mantra of “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” He projects what he knows about his own character and his tactics onto his critics. And make no mistake, his critics are to him anyone that does not blindly follow along with total loyalty in every manner of endeavor.
The Republican Party is dead. The Democrats cannot get their act together. Mr. Trump is taking advantage of every crack in society and ignoring the law to further his own personal gain. As long as the citizens of this great country look the other way, either out of fatigue or out of a sense that laying low is the best way not to get into trouble, we will see him amplify his outrageous behavior into dangerous areas.
We are better than this. Do not let fatigue make you a coward.