America Has Never Had A Good President

Every year on or before America’s “President’s Day,” I like to reflect on the different leaders the US has had and why there’s no such thing as a good president. Of course, Hawaiians are not Americans, so I’m not as familiar with all of the former presidents as kids in the US are, but the handful that we’re taught about most were terrible people. In fact, even the most celebrated presidents of America were shitty men who have enacted brutal harm on people across the world. In order to truly analyze the leaders America has had, I annually watch Clint Smith’s (one of my most favorite poets, academicsand historians) “Letters to Five of the Presidents Who Owned Slaves While They Were in Office” on PBS— a spoken word piece addressing five of the “Founding Fathers” of what is now referred to as the United States of America. Even though I didn’t learn much about the country’s leaders, I know how they’re perpetually celebrated with some earning more praise than others. Presidents such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and even Barack Obama are mostly highly regarded for their so-called good deeds and transformative policies or actions. Because I’m a fan of remembering people as they truly were and not just as one-dimensional characters, I think it’s important to recognize that every American president, whether Democrat or Republican, has enacted terror and brutality upon marginalized people in both America and across the world as leaders of the racist and violent US empire as there has never been a good president. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave-owning racists who colonized and bulldozed land that already belonged to Indigenous people. Abraham Lincoln, while an opponent of slavery, did not believe that Black people should be regarded as equal citizens. JFK was a rich, racist elitist who participated in America’s military that actively engaged in violent colonization across the world. Barack Obama used drone strikes to murder brown and Black people in other countries and allowed the CIA to torture people. Aside from those five former presidents who are usually thought of in positive lights, the remainder of the previous presidents were even worse— violent racists, genocidal commanders, and people who directly fought against equity and justice for all people (all of which sum up the former monster in the White House and the one that resides there today). On today’s President’s Day, I hope everyone—especially those who would rather remember only the good parts of former leaders—accurately reflects on who has been given the reigns of a capitalist state that has done nothing except brutalize people in every country and why we celebrate leaders who have killed unspeakable amounts of people throughout history.