–Soenke Pietsch (‘21)
There is no question about it that many Americans enjoy vacationing in the holiday state of America- Florida; Presidents, our Commanders in Chief, included. However, the circumstances under which many of our highest elected officials take time off their imperative, influential jobs are (in some cases) as similar as their presidential styles. Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump are all presidents of recent centuries that have jetted to Florida for their retreats. However, two seem to share a similar vacationing style, although their policies couldn’t be any more different; Donald J. Trump and John F. Kennedy.
During his time in office, the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, traveled to his vacation estate in Palm Beach Florida to take his well-deserved time off. The most notable of these trips reportedly saw him make history-altering decisions while vacationing during the Easter holiday of the early 1960s. Kennedy apparently strategized as to how the United States should deal with the Soviet nuclear threat while he kicked back in Palm Beach. Naturally, this meant that Kennedy was forced to negotiate with his advisor team and other senators during what should have been a relaxed break. However, as Commander in Chief, it was his responsibility to act in the best interest of the entire country and for those who had elected him.
As Donald J. Trump travels to Florida this Christmas break, he too faces similar conditions that share rememance with John F. Kennedy’s time in the sunshine state. The first striking similarity between both holidays is that the two both found Palm Beach as the ideal location to spend their time away from the White House. Although President Trump is currently indulging in his very own luxury hotel complex, President Kennedy had no reason to complain as well in his lavish mansion estate. More importantly however, President Trump is currently facing a conundrum sharing facets similar to those of John F. Kennedy. Over the course of this Christmas break, the federal government of the United States is set to shutter all of it’s “non-essential” services as the legislative and executive branch have failed to find a bill providing funding our country’s agencies for the next couple of months. As it stands, the main issue stems from President Trump, who is not willing to relinquish his demand for $5.7 billion grant to build his proposed border wall with Mexico. In context, this means that a spending bill will not get passed, meaning thousands of unpaid federal workers will not get paid over this Christmas holiday. The noticeable similarity however arises from the fact from two factors
As Donald Trump tries to find a compromise on the spending bill, he shares a similar strategy to John F. Kennedy: following through on campaign promises. Both of these men rallied on the assurances of keeping Americans “safe” from outsiders. Although the rhetoric has completely changed between these men, both essentially try to stop foreign influence, Kennedy pledging safety from the Soviet Union and Trump from Mexican immigrants. Moreover, these two men volunteeringly or not have (had) to spend time working with their opposition through their breaks. John F. Kennedy was not able to find a solution to combating the threat of the USSR by only working with Democrats. Similarly, Donald Trump will not be able to sign any spending bills into law until he starts to cooperate with his critics, again Democrats. Until he does this, he will not have the break he wished for when he took off from Washington DC bound for Florida. In the end, only time will tell whether or not President Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, will provide the same level of commitment and compromise to solving his kerfuffle during his supposed break as his predecessor 10 Presidents before.