The Real Challenge for America

Getting rid of Donald Trump will not cure the deep-seated resentment in the hearts and minds of Americans. I have often written about my country, and my book Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs lays out my thoughts about weaknesses and solutions for this great nation. Those essays in the book, even though written in ink, will be reevaluated over time because life in this country is mercurial. Each statement must be viewed considering the current space in time.

One of the amazing structural strengths designed by our founders is the balance of powers. With three branches of government, each is supposed to check for any abuse of power by the others. Like a healthy tree, each branch provides the whole with enough power to stand tall, grow and be nourished through the seasons. Political parties were not mandated or endorsed by the Constitution, but it was inevitable they would surface.

Money was at the core of early debates in our country. If you had the pleasure of seeing the brilliant Broadway musical Hamilton, you saw the deep struggle Congress experienced when establishing a federal banking system. From there, we fought over which countries to support or remain neutral. That was the beginning of foreign policy and international standing. We had to be cool back then so that other countries would take us seriously. That’s why we sent our smartest and best people to fill diplomatic posts in England and France. It was important for Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams to be away from native soil to keep us safe from hostile invasions.

As we all know, the communication networks of the 18th and 19th centuries were not that good. On some occasions we fought wars for months after a peace treaty was signed because it took so long to get the word. Because of today’s hyper fast and extreme news blasts we are constantly ingesting data, be it true or false. It’s difficult enough to discern the difference between a joke and a lie, an attempt at sarcasm or a legal policy statement, and Donald John Trump has only confounded clarity. I, for one, would appreciate the next president not using Twitter for any purpose other than sharing good news.

There are ways to effectively release official information, policies and rules to the public. That is the purpose of the press and communications office in the White House. I am tired of the banal “I’ve been hearing that…” statements from this president. Before the President of the United States makes an assertion, they should KNOW THE FACTS by thoroughly vetting the information and its source. We don’t need a commander-in-gossip; we need a real leader.

Why the divide in our country? First, people are different. I oversimplify by using the terms altruistic and selfish. I’m puzzled by rich people like Peter Theil, a co-founder of PayPal and billionaire immigrant, giving millions of dollars to organizations designed to curb and slow immigration. It’s like, “Hey, I got in, let’s close the doors.” I am also a bit befuddled when I hear people talk about the relationship between the poor and the Holy Bible. Seriously, if our religious institutions spent as much time helping the unfortunate or feeding hungry children as they do with draconian birth control measures, we would be much better off. Yes, I am saying a little more altruism in the church would profoundly improve our circumstances. The current Pope gets this. Why aren’t more people listening to him?

The Pope of the Poor

Both Republicans and Democrats say things that show their biases and racist thinking. One of my neighbors talked about a video of a woman being stopped by police. He was going on and on about how the woman reacted and I asked, “Was the woman Black?” He said, “Yes, as usual.” He didn’t realize how racist he was being because he doesn’t even know what the word racism means. It’s not his fault, or is it?

Why do we have such sharp divisions? People like Donald Trump really do see things as Black and White, and I mean that both ways. He views rich people as somehow better than those folks who are down on their luck while bouncing off bankruptcies because he’s been a millionaire since the day he was born. He pledges to keep African Americans and poor whites out of your neighborhood. That’s not a dog whistle. It’s a giant fog horn blast. His words and actions make the divide wider, deeper and more damaging than those of any other president in our recent history.

Political parties arose to help organize people having particular beliefs or ideologies. Parties have platforms, which help voters to understand the broad perspectives of each candidate. When a leader strays from their platform, some voters get confused and then lump all politicians into one big basket. Trump has decided to not have a platform so he can never disappoint, or could it be that is he just too lazy to develop a plan?

As a critic, I state my opinions in clear language. I passionately believe that Justice Brett Kavanaugh should NOT be on the Supreme Court. I feel this way not because he drank too much beer in high school or was accused of attempted rape. It’s because he went after a political candidate during his confirmation hearing. He showed himself to be a true Republican and Conservative with an agenda. Supreme Court justices should not use their position as a political weapon. Bad Brett! The court system must be reformed. Why is it okay to count ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina after election day, but not in Wisconsin? There’s an example of bad decisions which should be handled by local jurisdictions, not the Supreme Court. Or maybe, it’s time to codify all the election rules under a federal umbrella.

Congress must be reformed. There is no way that one man like Mitch McConnel should have the power to force a Supreme Court nomination vote desired by a sitting president. We also must figure out how to end the gridlock and wasted time of hearings and procedures. Without this, Congress will never get above its 18% approval rate.

As for the President, we need to reform the pardon laws and the various ways the Chief Executive deals with oversight. The White House should NOT be able to keep a person from testifying to Congress. Those who do not respect the use of a Congressional subpoena should be arrested and jailed until they agree to do so. They have the right to take the Fifth Amendment, what then are they afraid of? I guess they fear being abused or fired by a bad president. Okay, then let’s make a law that the president should NOT be allowed to intimidate a witness. WAIT, we already have the law! Perhaps the law should be modified to include that every time a president blocks a witness, the President should lose their veto power for one round of legislation. That would get their attention.

Republicans pay taxes and have a right to be heard. Democrats believe they are right just as much as Republicans and they should demand truth from our leaders. As I said to my neighbor, we will never agree on “talking points” of the parties, but we can always agree on FACTS. COVID deaths should not form a talking point. They are facts. WAKE UP AMERICA, and go VOTE.

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  1. In following the “Would-Be Autocrat’s Handbook” Trump has spent four years setting up the conditions that would weaken the power of other branches of government, and stock the administrative halls with his cronies. It baffles me how people who support him do not see this, but then, the kind of work I did back in the day required me to be a student of history — at least some of it. As a Democrat, I know Joe Biden can’t fix everything, and I worry about overpromising. But if Trump could do THIS MUCH damage to our institutions and our faith in one another, I have to hope a new administration can undo at least enough of the damage to get beyond where we are now. I have a young relative who dismissed me as “Democrat ’til death,” and was then surprised to learn I HAVE voted for Republicans in the past. “But not in THIS century,” I told him. We need the moderates of both parties to come out of hiding. Great things — healing things — CAN be done, if they are done carefully, and with sensitivity to the impact on the people on the other side of the issue. That has been the greatest failing among all the great failings of this administration: the bullish drive to impose one viewpoint, regardless of its impact. That’s no way to govern on EITHER side. We must begin to listen, not just speak.

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