By Christa Castrignano

The culmination of President Trump’s first one hundred days in office provides an opportunity to reflect on the events that transpired within them. Thwarted travel bans, a failed health care proposal, ratcheting pressure overseas, and numerous upsetting tweet storms from the Commander in Chief scratch the tip of the Hundred Day iceberg.

Although the President continues to enjoy overwhelming support from those in his base, the rest of the country does not share in their enthusiasm.  Real Clear Politics measures his approval rating at 43.1%, with 51.9% of Americans disapproving of his performance thus far. And with the crises in Syria and North Korea reaching a crescendo, and amid serious questions of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, it is understandable that most Americans are not singing a happy tune.

Democrats are still reeling; looking toward the 2018 midterm elections with a defensive yet frenetic eye. During the past 100 days, they have dug in their heels, and begun their fervent opposition to President Trump, and have taken it to the extreme. In doing so, they have become even less palatable to a large swath of the American people.  This week the DNC Chair made it clear that anyone of the pro-life persuasion is not welcome in the Democrat Party.  Meanwhile, Republicans are fettered; at odds as to how to employ their sweeping Congressional majority.  Do they appease the conservative Freedom Caucus wing?  Do they move to the center, in hopes of cementing their hold on the Blue Dog Democrats whose votes they won in 2016? Or do they cater to the nationalist, isolationist alt-right?  Even Republicans are beginning to waver in their support of their party’s new president, especially since he does not ascribe to a firm set of ideological values. 

As such, many Democrats and Republicans are finding themselves in a strange position.  They are, largely for the first time, finding themselves fundamentally at odds with the direction of their respective parties.  A quarter of Democrats believe that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.  The Republicans approval rating of the President dropped six percentage points in the wake of the Trumpcare failure, and concerns about Russia increased in polling as well. 

So what are those of us on Main Street to do?  It may be tempting to throw in the towel, and give in to the apathy that tugs at our weary morale.  But we must not do so.  It may seem like nothing will change, and that history marches on, rendering our opinions irrelevant.  The reality is: our political parties would be nothing without us.  Just because a cause that we believe in seems to be thwarted, or our values no longer seem relevant, does not mean that we failed as citizens.  Any active interest we take in our government, our society is a victory.  Our country is fueled by it.  The battle is won simply by being involved.  The only time defeat occurs is when we give into apathy – when we do nothing.  

Keep the faith.  Even though these past 100 days have seemed like a lifetime, keep an eye on the ball.  Do not let the President’s tweets, the alt-right, the liberal left, fake news, etc. detract your interests or extinguish your resolve.  In times of despair, remember the words spoken by President Theodore Roosevelt about the fundamental  importance of being The Man in the Arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 

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