Something was smashed beyond repair in the United States this week. Not the glass ceiling that would have seen the first woman in the White House, but rather the all-but-sacred idea of what it is to be a US president.
For citizens of the United States and all who admire her throughout the world, the occupant of the Oval Office is the embodiment of all that is best. Regardless of party affiliation and the petty distractions of day-to-day politics, the President of the United States is an almost mythical figure charged with leading the unending struggle to an ever better world.
Of course these are naive words. Simple words. Childlike words – words untainted by the grubby realities of an imperfect world. But taking the fight to that very imperfection, and inspiring others to the cause, has been the doomed but noble mission of the President of the United States.
The list of such giants is awe-inspiring. Washington – the military victor and the founding father, Lincoln – the Union saver and the slave emancipator, FDR – the depression slayer and the saviour of democracy, JFK – the youthful inspiration and the tragically unrealised potential.
While many Presidents have fallen short, and sometimes enormously short, of the historical achievements of these giants, all until this week have been credible aspirants to their ranks.
Tragically, this is no longer the case. The all but sacred idea of what it is to be a US President has been smashed beyond repair. The feeling since is the grief for the loss of that idea– the end of that innocence.
John Looby works for KBI Global Investors, a global investment manager based in Dublin. The views expressed are his own.