Theodore Roosevelt once called the Presidency of the United States a “bully pulpit.” By that, he meant it was a tremendous platform to speak from, to the people of the country and the world. And he used that platform to great effect during his two terms as President. He might be best known as the founder of the National Parks Service, his purchase of the Panama Canal, or his role as the leader the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. But he used his bully pulpit in matters both foreign and domestic.
While most recall his foreign policy as being “speak softly, but carry a big stick” in 1906 Roosevelt received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his role in negotiating the end of the war between Japan and Russia. Domestically, he used his pulpit to break up some of the gigantic trusts he considered bad for business, took on the railroads, and prosecuted misconduct within his own administration.
Subsequent presidents have also used the “bully pulpit” to encourage, cajole, and warn people at home or abroad. Their words still resonate with us today.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Tragically, we now have a man who has taken the “bully pulpit” and turned it into a “pulpit for bullies.” Donald Trump does not know how to lead. He only knows how to threaten. Take, for example, the following messages he has sent out since becoming our 45th President:
He bullies cities.
He bullies schools.
He bullies United States Senators.
He bullies the press.
He tried to bully Federal judges.
The President of the United States even tried to bully a retail store!
No matter who you voted for or supported in the election I do not believe that the people of this country want the bully pulpit of the Presidency to be used for petty vendettas, to settle personal grudges, or to retaliate against perceived slights.
We do not want it turned into a pulpit for bullies.