On your morning walk to work each morning you pass a house that has a vicious dog tied in the yard by a rope. As you pass it races towards you, snapping and biting but the rope holds it but as it is only a puppy , you ignore it.
As months pass the puppy grows larger and larger into a full adult dog but never ceases to race at you, teeth bared and snarling loudly, hitting the end of its rope, but the rope holds it in place. However, as time goes on you not only note the dog continues to grow and gain in strength, rope is beginning to look frayed with broken strands showing. Still, it prevents the dog from reaching you and since you must pass this way, you pray it continues to hold.
But, at some point you realize the size and strength of the dog and the weakening of the rope will eventually result in the dog breaking free and attacking you. What is the solution? You can sneak in while the dog is asleep and replace the rope with a chain but it is likely you will wake it. You can remove the dog’s food dish in hopes its owners won’t notice so it will starve and grow weaker. You can shoot the dog before it attacks but you may only wound it and stimulate it to break free and attack. What is a logical solution? I can’t think of one, can you?
BTW, the dog’s name is Kim Jong Un.
In 1958 one of the most politically influential novels, The Ugly American, was published. Of the books’ core revelations the one that was most renowned was that of a foreign journalist who had lived in the US and said, “For some reason, the people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They are loud and ostentatious.”
Well, folks…times have changed…or not? The “Ugly American” is no longer limited to the loud and ostentatious living pretentiously (although Mr. Trump certainly fits nicely into that description). No…today’s Ugly Americans are the people who gather to yell at Hispanic and Asian school children, “Go back to your country!” and scratch swastikas on cars they deem might be owned by non-Christians. They’re the people who hated Obama because he was black but complain if their disability check is a day late as they had planned to go 4-wheeling that weekend and need the money for beer and cartridges for their AK-47s. They’re the ones who prefer “Christian home schooling” for their kids who never learn enough to fill out an application at McDonalds. They’re the folks who wouldn’t stoop so low as to picking fruit or working farm fields for wages but blame those who are doing it as their reason for their inability to find a “decent” job. They’re to ones who want to get rid of “Obamacare” but claim they’d definitely support an Affordable Care Act. They’re the ones who believe the “American Dream” is something to be handed to you for free on your 21st birthday and after that you just lay back and life is a breeze.
Yep…ugly is as ugly does!
The Constitution of the United States is unequivocally considered the epitome of the political foundation of a free people. The principal tenant of this document is government of the people, by the people and for the people…democracy. Yet I have growing concerns that expectations of this document’s infallibility have resulted in our apathy toward these freedoms (Remember, only 54% of eligible voters cast ballots in the last election.)
Arising issues bring to question as to whether this revered document is truly fail-safe in protecting the individual freedoms of our citizens and ensuring against domination by radical political and religious minorities.
Let’s consider these issues:
- Three of the last seven Presidential elections resulted in the winning candidate garnering less than the majority of the electorate. This manifested itself in the last election with a nearly 3 million vote advantage to the losing candidate.
- The increasing preponderance of a growing plutocracy where the nation’s oligarchs are allowed to dictate election results through their monetary contributions and, in turn, receive favorable benefits from the administration.
- The ability of action (and inaction) by a political majority of the legislative branch to thwart actions in the other two branches.
- The application of insidious gerrymandering to ensure uneven political dominance in populated areas in the nation.
- The judicially undisputed voter suppression laws throughout the union directed towards lower income and non-white citizens.
- Increasing partisanship in our nation’s judicial systems.
- Isolationism as a means of political control.
One can only wonder if the Founding Fathers were simply too naïve in their vision of the nature of future affluent societies and actually set in place a system which, once political control was achieved, prevents any valid future opposition.
For the sake of my grandchildren I hope I am over-reacting. But, my observations tell me maybe not.
My neighbor’s recent admission to “having made a gross error” in voting for Trump brought to mind Thomas Hobbes’ quote, Hell is truth seen too late,” (although Hobbes would have likely supported a Trump administration following his beliefs in Leviathan where he argues in favor of a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign.) Yet my neighbor’s admission was hollow and I asked myself how someone could have believed that Trump would make a good, competent, and just leader of this country after having listened to his campaign rants; his early morning Tweets; his out-and-out lies; his misogynic utterances? How could anyone trust him when he refused to show his tax returns and openly thumbed his nose at our Constitution? How could he have accepted someone who gets his advice from Steve Bannon? And that was BEFORE Russia was implicated as his co-sponsor.
It appears this change of heart is based more on self-serving as opposed to philanthropic issues: ‘Oops…II may not be able to afford my healthcare anymore!’ ‘Uh oh…what about my federal disability check?’ ‘Hey, wait a minute…you’re going to close the waste water treatment plant where my daughter works?’ ‘Okay…I agree you need to eliminate immigrants taking our jobs…but, Golly…will that raise the price of tomatoes? Will my grocery bill go up?’ ‘And I’m just not too keen on a nuclear war, even a “limited” one and it never occurred to me you were REALLY going to do all those things.’ ‘And BTW, does it really cost taxpayers 3 million every time you go to Mar Lago (5 times in the past 6 weeks)?’ ‘And to keep Melania and Barron in New York costs us $300 million a year? That’d sure help fix a lot of infrastructure.’ ‘Wow! I guess I just wasn’t listening close enough.’
“My country tis’ of thee; sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died; land of the Pilgrim’s pride; from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
Great lyrics we’ve all been brought up to believe. Sadly, in our new oligarchy freedom only rings for a handful of our population, those elite individuals we can identify as the ‘plutocrats. Plutocrats are “an elite or ruling class of people whose power derives from their wealth.” Some estimates of Trump’s cabinet’s wealth round out at $35 billion (yes, BILLION!!!) while their admitted admissions exceed $13 billion. In Iowa, Trump told his supporters, “I want people that made a fortune.” Was HOW they made their fortunes of concern? Obviously not!
Let’s take Jeff Sessions, Attorney General nominee. Jeff entered the employ of the U.S. Government two years out of law school and has remained a public servant ever since. Now I also entered the government right out of college so it’s amazing to me that a career government employee could amass a net worth of $6 million (unless, of course, he had some really lucrative part-time night jobs). The same goes for General James Kelly who Bankrate magazine indicates is worth $4 million and that “A government pension is responsible for most of his wealth, according to Forbes.” (Wow! How did I miss out on that?)
Then there’s Betsy DeVos who hasn’t really earned anything but inherited her wealth and married into money. Then…OMG…the several Wall Street gurus who made their fortunes putting the screws to many thousand home-owners (most now FORMER home owners) in the last decade. But, there’s no question these people have more money than you or me. Unfortunately, most haven’t a clue as to the role they are supposed to play (except as ‘yes men’ (and women) to Trump and Brandon. I doubt most could describe what the agencies under their responsibility really do (we know Perry couldn’t) and even name the people they were replacing.
But, as my Trump acquaintances keep telling me, “Get used to it.” I wonder when they’ll discover it’s not something they really want to get used to.
9:00 am, January 20, 2017
I sit here in the semi-darkness, wind and rain falling outside. I have just completed reading a book on Theodore Roosevelt, a man who embodied everything I believed America was about; honesty, integrity, bravery and compassion. I am suddenly struck with the fact that beginning today Donald Trump will be my county’s leader and I cannot hold back the sense of despair and the rush of tears that follow.
“You can’t fix stupid!” This saying, earlier popularized by comedian, Ron White, seemed to make sense. Back then I thought it a funny remark, but believed you actually COULD fix stupid and that was through education. Then we got the 212th to 214th Congresses that culminated with the (sort of)) election of Donald Trump.
Previously I had considered “stupid” to be synonymous with “uneducated.” Obviously that was a poorly examined and unfounded belief and if I had taken the time to go back through history I could’ve noted that many of the pillars of science, society and politics were, in fact, “uneducated” in the sense they had no formal schooling. In contrast, the education level in Congress is relatively high where only 5% have less than a Bachelor’s Degree. So, I must also concede that “smart” and “educated” are two cats of a different color.
Therefore I must fall back on “Common Sense”, being the “basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that is shared by nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly everyone without need for debate.” (Wikipedia) Like knowing enough not to put a sharp stick in your eye. The key here is “perceive, understand and judge”, three elements that sadly I find many elected officials and almost all Trump supporters sorely lack.
The problem is that the leadership of our country is moving rapidly towards an educated cadre of people with no common sense and a total unwillingness to even consider facts. Many of them are under the opinion that global warming is not occurring because “it’s raining,” believing that Anchorage gets more rain than Maui “because it’s colder.” They trust in opinion over fact and that, at least in their perspective, opinion is always the winner.
Welcome to a new era…as long as it lasts.