Pete Souza had had enough. He knew he could remain silent no longer. After his tenures as the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama, and Official White House Photographer for President Ronald Reagan, watching President Donald Trump take office was unsettling. As he sat back and hoped for the best, watching President Trump's handling of sensitive issues, callous, self-absorbed approach to subjects those before him handled with grace and care, and his penchant for discord and division, Pete finally spoke up in a tweet.
This simple tweet, made within the first week of Trump's presidency, showed a picture of President Obama at this desk with the simple caption: "I like these drapes better than the gaudy new gold ones." And so began Souza's foray into throwing shade. In his book Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, he juxtaposes iconic pictures of President Obama against President Trump's caustic tweets, a stern reminder of how far we have come.
Yet, while it is tempting to view the descent from President Obama's class and integrity to President Trump's raucous as a negative, there is also a bright glimmer of hope in the realization that we may once again return to the unification and morals that were once our norm.
While Souza's book and most recently his documentary The Way I See It, which debuted on MSNBC Friday, October 16 (watch it now on Amazon Prime), showcase the type of president we once had, they can also serve as a reminder of the type of president who may once again guide our nation. The film was directed by Dawn Porter, the same visionary responsible for CNN Films' John Lewis: Good Trouble, and aims to raise awareness, empathy, and appreciation in the hearts and minds of its viewers.
With all of the anxiety surrounding the November 3rd presidential election, it is easy to lose track of the hopefulness within the process. This is our opportunity to speak up, to let our voices be heard, and make a concrete statement about the next four years, and decide how the office of the president will be represented.
This is no time to be overwhelmed by the "what-ifs", or the fear of a repeat of the past four years. It is a time to believe again and to be inspired by the same hope that made those who came before us march and protest without regard for their safety, fighting for the right to participate in our democracy.
Now is not the time to be overwhelmed, but a time to dream big, to look ahead and aspire to better times and the manifestation of the positive changes we long for; a return to what we considered normal. And as long as we and those around us take the time to vote either by mail or in person, those dreams will ultimately become reality.